Here's something for writers to look forward to: the Fondation Jan Michalski -- who also run the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, which is: "open to authors from the world over and is intended to contribute to their international recognition" -- are working on a pretty decent-looking writers' retreat/residence, the Maison de l'Ecriture in Montricher, Switzerland.
Friedrich Schmidt has a (German) preview in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
Yale University Press' excellent Margellos World Republic of Letters-series -- see the titles from it under review at the complete review -- now has its own official site.
Publishing Perspectives prints the apparently official press release (though I couldn't find it at either Yale University Press' or the university's website ...) -- and among the plans for the site is 'The Margellos WRL blog', which I look forward to.
But I'm looking forward to the forthcoming titles more ... Manea ! Gombrowicz !
In The Telegraph, 'Head of Books' Gaby Wood has a profile of sometimes Turkish-, sometimes English-writing Elif Shafak.
Among the wild stories:
"It's funny," she goes on, "because this past week, I was reading in the Turkish papers, four trucks full of pirated copies of two of my novels have been confiscated by the police.
Four trucks -- 150,000 copies ! That's why we never know the real numbers."
Amazing that book piracy could be such a big business.
Great to see these -- in beautiful editions from Seagull Books and The Cahiers Series, respectively -- but it's about time his fiction became readily available in the US/UK.
(The Restless Supermarket came out over a decade ago in South Africa and still hasn't appeared in a US or UK edition !)
The Swedish Academy selects who gets the Nobel Prize in literature each fall, but in the spring they award their other literary prize, the nordiska pris (the Nordic Prize, reserved for Scandinavian authors) -- and they've announced that Einar Már Guðmundsson will get it this year.
(It has a solid list of previous winners, including Tomas Tranströmer, who picked it up in 1991, and, for example, Per Olov Enquist, who got it in 2010.)
transcriptclaims he: "is the most widely translated Icelandic author born in the post-war period" and, indeed, several Einar Már Guðmundsson titles have even been translated into English -- but they're not exactly readily available; but try, for example, to get Angels of the Universe from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The rise of 'literary' agents in India continues to be in the (local) news (see also my recent mention), in what's beginning to look like a desperate concerted PR campaign, as now Jaya Bhattacharji Rose reports on their role in How to sell, and buy a book in the Hindustan Times.
So, for example:
"It's healthy for an author to have an agent," says Shruti Debi, head of the Indian office of Aitken Alexander.
"A book is a durable item and writers usually have no parameters of the quality or nature of the deal that they are getting into.
An agent is a sounding board for the author and publisher."
And a sounding board is necessary in an industry that is getting extremely competitive, as author Hari Kunzru notes.
I'm still keeping my fingers unrealistically crossed that the Indian publishing industry manages without them .....
At Teheleka Kiran Nagarkar warns that in India: "National and regional political parties have exploited and honed the business of intolerance into a fine art", in The fine art of Intolerance.
A few decades into Independence, we began to realise the political potential in becoming highly over-sensitive people with extra-thin skins.
Everybody is on the lookout for slights, innuendoes, real or imagined slurs and everybody takes offence if there is a suggestion of malpractice or abuse of power in his or her select field or group.
In the Sydney Morning Herald Craig Munro reviews Nicole Moore's The Censor's Library: Uncovering the Lost History of Australia's Banned Books, which sounds pretty interesting.
See also the University of Queensland Press publicity page; it doesn't appear to be available at the US or UK Amazons yet.
I wouldn't have guessed that Maupassant leads the way -- or that, for example, Georges Simenon only ranks 26th (with 990,000 copies sold -- spread out over some 200 books, that's not a great per-book average ...).
Impressive, on the otehr hand, that Stefan Zweig sells so well (he's 7th).
Almost all these authors are also well-established in English, or at least have a few books in print; René Barjavel (33rd) looks to be the major exception; time for a revival ?
They've announced that Shin Kyung-sook's Please Look After Mom (UK title, sigh: Please Look After Mother) has won the Man Asian Literary Prize.
It wouldn't have been my choice, but at least it will help get more of her fiction translated into English, which I look forward to (pretty much everything that she's written sounds more interesting than this one).
Good timing with the paperback releases, too: the UK edition is just out, the US edition due in two weeks.
They've announced the winners of the Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse 2012 -- the prize(s) of the Leipzig Book Fair, the second most important German book-prize, after the German Book Prize (awarded in the fall, at that other book fair).
Sand by Wolfgang Herrndorf took the fiction prize; see also the Rowohlt foreign rights page.
The translation prize went to Christina Viragh, for her translation of Nádas Péter's Parallel Stories.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Reticence, his 1991 novel that's now finally available in English, from Dalkey Archive Press.
(This is the ninth Toussaint title under review at the complete review.)
So they're holding the India Today Conclave 16 - 17 March -- theme: 'Ideate Debate Celebrate The Asian Century' ('ideate' ? seriously ?) -- and among those invited is Salman Rushdie, whose talk is titled: I am What I am and That's All That I am.
As you may recall, Rushdie was also recently invited to the Jaipur Literature Festival but then stayed away -- because of all sorts of threats (some real, some not) and protests; see, for example, one of my previous mentions.
So now he's headed back to India -- and of course it's way too much to hope for that he'd actually be welcomed by one and all and that those who take issue with him and his writing would simply engage in debate with him about these matters.
No, one-time cricket great and now political panderer Imran Khan -- scheduled to give the closing gala keynote address, Captain Pakistan: The Ultimate Test -- feels he can't even attend an event at which Rushdie is present.
See, for example, Andrew Buncombe's report in The Independent, Imran Khan cancels Delhi appearance after learning Salman Rushdie was also invited (apparently Khan: "could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie, who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe").
Mind you, we're talking about an event at which Henry Kissinger is speaking -- he's giving the opening gala keynote address, The Making of an Asian Century -- and no one seems to have a problem with that .....
I say: the more the merrier, be they war-criminals or sportsmen-turned-politicians.
Talk it up !
Talk it out !
Hell, ideate, if you have to (or know what that involves ...).
Clearly, Rushdie remains a hot-button issue -- but surely the fact that someone like Kissinger can show up to something like this and no one bats an eye, but Rushdie's presence is enough to lead a supposedly leading national statesman to scurry off claiming hurt and outrage is a sign of just how badly off the rails this debate has gone.
(Which is why everyone should get together and talk things out, rather than posture .....)
Publishing Hungary, a government programme aimed at popularizing Hungarian literature and publishing works in foreign languages, has been launched.
They also note that the defunct Hungarian Book Foundation has now been replaced by an Office for the Support of Books and Translations -- which: "will probably be able to announce their first round of applications for translation grants in April 2012 (15 million forints -- 51 thousand euros), followed by a second round in the second part of the year".
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dutch author Nescio's Amsterdam Stories, a slim volume from New York Review Books that introduces the author to English-speaking readers (not that there's too much else of his left to translate ...).
Created by publisher Seix Barral in 1961, the awarding of the Formentor was interrupted in 1967 and resumed only last year.
It certainly had a good track record for its short initial run: Prix Formentor winners included Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Jorge Semprum, and Witold Gombrowicz.
(Last year Carlos Fuentes got it.)
In all honesty, I turned to translation to make an extra buck.
Publishing, especially the independent nonprofit kind, is notorious for its low salaries.
I astutely chose to supplement my income by diving into a field that is even less lucrative. My strengths never did lie in math.
The crisis is really with the Muslim literary canon.
I know there will be some who will say: "We don't do literature, it's lying".
Of course, lying should not be a priority, but I won't blame Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer for misguiding Muslim youth.
It's not their fault. It's mine. I don't mind the responsibility.
I -- and you, fellow writers or would-be writers -- should be turning out books instead of fewer-than-a-thousand-word quips.
In The European Alexander Görlach has a Q & A with Martin Walser, in which they discuss 'the role of faith, the false promise of atheism, and the writings of Franz Kafka', "We Cannot Retreat To Atheism" [via].
One aim is to get more than 100 Finnish books translated into German in 2014, and thereafter to put out about 70 books a year in German, which is nearly 50 per cent more than is happening now.
Interesting also that:
The threshold for Finland was not very high, because Finnish literature has already achieved a considerable foothold in Germany.
At present Germany is the most important country of export for Finnish literature, and having a book translated into German leads to translations into other languages as well.
(One would expect/hope English to be the language of choice, but given US/UK attitudes towards writing in translation ... maybe not.)
Sad to hear that Austrian publisher Wieser Verlag has had to declare bankruptcy; see, for example, the (German) report by Bernhard Fliehe in the Salzburger Nachrichten, Wieser Verlag ist pleite.
In their 24-year-history they published about 1000 titles, with total sales of 1,300,000 copies.
A very impressive list, too -- check out that official site -- and especially strong in eastern European fiction.
I missed this when it came out a couple of weeks back, but in The Prague Post Stephan Delbos has an Interview: Ivan Klíma.
Fairly informative -- though it's disappointing to hear:
TPP: Do you read the work of younger Czech writers?
IK: I'm not so interested in younger writers.
My colleagues are in their fifties, and I mostly read their work in manuscripts.
When I read something written by younger writers, I don't find it's on the highest level.
Often it's very well written but more or less about nothing. It lacks a great subject.
(The only Klíma-title under review at the complete review is the completely unrepresentative Between Security and Insecurity, though I am a fan of his fiction -- and would love to see Moje šílené století ('My Crazy Century') get translated, the book about which he notes: " I've signed contracts for Spanish translations and Chinese translations, but the most important is English, which hasn't happened yet"; see also the Nakladatelství Academia publicity page for the first volume (there's now also a second).)
In The Reporter Tibebeselassie Tigabu has a Q & A with Ethiopian poet Ephrem Seyoum, discussing When poetry meets the digital age.
In this case 'digital' mainly refers to sound recordings of the poetry being performed (with musical accompaniment).
This appears to be an example of an older work (poetry-music video !):
Gotta love that pulsing-heart frame, even if you don't understand the words .....