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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 May 2012

21 May: Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt-Preis | Writing about ... physics | The Chemistry of Tears review
22 May: Prizes: Prémio Camões - Commonwealth regional winners - Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize | Vlad review
23 May: New Krasznahorkai | Censorship in ... Tunisia | The no-longer-Orange Prize | Twenty-five percent of the adult fiction market
24 May: Korean literature abroad | Istros Books | Indian classics in English | Author-royalties in Israel | Jezebel review
25 May: Polizzotti on Albert Cossery | Rossica Translation Prize | University of Missouri Press closing | Search Sweet Country review
26 May: Franz Kafka Prize | Baha Taher Q & A | Caine Prize discussions | Writers' houses | (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists
27 May: Martin Amis profile | Writing in ... Nigeria | Dublinesque review
28 May: Patrick White at 100 | Amir Hassan Cheheltan profile
29 May: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o lecture | Writing in ... Malta | All Men are Liars review
30 May: Granta goes Bulgarian | Elif Batuman on Pamuk's Museum of Innocence | Sofi Oksanen's new novel | Life is Short and Desire Endless review
31 May: Orange Prize | Krasznahorkai Q & A | The Life of an Unknown Man review

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31 May 2012 - Thursday

Orange Prize | Krasznahorkai Q & A
The Life of an Unknown Man review

       Orange Prize

       They've announced that The Song of Achilles (by Madeline Miller) has won the Is-it-still-called-the-Orange-? Prize [see my previous mention].
       It's not under review at the complete review, but see the publicity pages at Bloomsbury and Ecco, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       As far as the What-will-it-be-called-next-? Orange Prize: what are they going to do about that nice site-URL, www.orangeprize.co.uk ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Krasznahorkai Q & A

       At hlo Gabriella Nagy has a Q & A with Animalinside- and Satantango-author Krasznahorkai László, Towards new unrealities.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Life of an Unknown Man review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andreï Makine's The Life of an Unknown Man.

       Interesting to note that this is the fourth of the novels I've recently reviewed that's a paperback original and book-in-translation appearing in the US this week (or thereabouts) that was previously published in the UK, a year or more ago -- beside this one:        What's up with American publishers and this delayed (re)action with books in translation ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



30 May 2012 - Wednesday

Granta goes Bulgarian | Elif Batuman on Pamuk's Museum of Innocence
Sofi Oksanen's new novel | Life is Short and Desire Endless review

       Granta goes Bulgarian

       Granta goes Bulgarian, with an international edition, Granta България, whose first issue is officially being unveiled today.
       Among those involved in the magazine: The Collector of Worlds-author Ilija Trojanow is the honorary editor, and the editorial board includes Мисия Лондон-author Alek Popov, and Natural Novel-author Georgi Gospodinov.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Elif Batuman on Pamuk's Museum of Innocence

       In the London Review of Books Elif Batuman writes about Orhan Pamuk's newly-opened Museum of Innocence (based, of course, on his novel, The Museum of Innocence).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Sofi Oksanen's new novel

       Helsingin Sanomat reports that Purge-author Sofi Oksanen's new novel, Kun kyyhkyset katosivat ('When the Pigeons Disappeared') is due out in Finland this fall -- and that Record print run planned for Sofi Oksanen's new novel.
       What is a record print run in Finland (with its not much over 5,000,000 inhabitants) ? Apparently 100,000.
       It's being published by Like (as Oksanen split with locally dominant publisher WSOY recently) -- and there's already an official site. The book is apparently the third in a planned tetralogy; Purge was the second volume (and the first hasn't been translated into English yet ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Life is Short and Desire Endless review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Patrick Lapeyre's prix Femina-winning novel, Life is Short and Desire Endless, just out in English translation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



29 May 2012 - Tuesday

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o lecture | Writing in ... Malta | All Men are Liars review

       Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o lecture

       Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o gave a lecture at the University of The Free State a few days ago, and in the Sunday Independent they have an edited version, We have to reconnect with our being.
       I'd suggest, however, that -- if you can stand the dreaded pdf format -- you check out the full lecture -- with the considerably more ... direct title, The Blackness of Black: Africa in the World Today.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Writing in ... Malta

       In the Times of Malta they consider Transcending Malta's literary limitations -- arguing:
What is missing is the mentality to strike out and find the markets that transcend our geographical limitations. The pity lies in the lack of importance culture seems to be given by administrations that might pay lip service to the need to expand this country's literary horizons but do not put their money and resources where their mouth is.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       All Men are Liars review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alberto Manguel's All Men are Liars, now also out in a US edition.
       Having just reviewed Enrique Vila-Matas' Dublinesque, I was amused to find a small Vila-Matas cameo in this book (which also features a narrator named 'Alberto Manguel') .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



28 May 2012 - Monday

Patrick White at 100 | Amir Hassan Cheheltan profile

       Patrick White at 100

       Nobel laureate Patrick White would have turned 100 today -- and it's disappointing to see that there's not more coverage of the great writer to commemorate the occasion.
       In The Australian Peter Craven does have a nice piece, Coloured by the literary richness of White (I'm not sure how accessible this piece is/remains), but beyond that there's little more -- just stuff like: 'Eileen Battersby ponders novelist Patrick White to artist Sidney Nolan' in From here ... to there in the Irish Times, for example.
       A few weeks back Jane Sullivan did find Minds shaped by the styles of White -- but that also came with the depressing parenthetical observation:
One sobering statistic: The Tree of Man has sold only 464 copies this century.
       There are fifteen White titles under review at the complete review (see the author page for links), and The Tree of Man is pretty much the only major work not covered: I've been saving that because I can't bear the thought of there not being some additional work by White left for me to read (though with the posthumous The Hanging Garden now out (in the UK and Australia ... get your copy at Amazon.co.uk) I should really take the plunge).
       ABC Arts does have an interesting-looking video, Patrick White: Will They Read Me When Iím Dead ? up.

       Centenary occasion or not, White is always worth your while -- if you haven't read anything by him, I strongly recommend you give him a try.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Amir Hassan Cheheltan profile

       At Qantara.de Stefan Buchen has an interesting profile of The Loyal Dissident -- Iranian Writer Amir Hassan Cheheltan.
       The only one of his works under review at the complete review is his آمریکایی کُشی در تهران.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



27 May 2012 - Sunday

Martin Amis profile | Writing in ... Nigeria | Dublinesque review

       Martin Amis profile

       In The Telegraph Mick Brown profiles Martin Amis: over-60 and under-appreciated, as the Lionel Asbo-publicity machine gets rolling (look for some fun, outlandish Amis pronouncements as it progresses and he finds (or his publishers complain) he isn't getting enough attention; for anyone to think this guy is 'under-appreciated' ... surely there's no writer whose every fart gets as much attention as his do).
       I am looking forward to Lionel Asbo, which sounds ... intriguing; it's due out in the UK shortly -- get your copy at Amazon.co.uk -- and in the US in August (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Writing in ... Nigeria

       Both parts of Tony Afejuku's 'Language, Literature and Decolonization of Nigeria's Political Culture' are now available in Vanguard -- parts one and two.
       Afejuku thinks:
Of course, because "huge" Nigeria has no singular language that is our official language, we cannot speak in terms of a Nigerian national culture, strictly speaking, in the same way that Russians, for example, can speak of a Russian national culture.

This is the reason why Wale Okediran, a Yoruba, has not or cannot write his stories, novels and essays in Yoruba. To pass as a Nigerian writer, to pass as a national writer writing about a national culture, he must write in English language, the colonizer's language. Yet Wale Okediran must attempt to de-colonize in his writings Nigeria's political culture. Okediran's problem is the problem of all Nigerian's writers, distinguished and un-distinguished.
       Sure, one can't speak of a national Nigerian culture in the same way one can speak of a national Russian one -- but do you really have/want to ? And I certainly disagree that Wale Okediran (et al.) can't write in Yoruba and still 'pass as a Nigerian writer'. I realize there are difficulties in writing (and trying to publish ...) in languages other than English in Nigeria -- and many other countries --, but I think the market and possibilities are growing; I wish/hope more give it a try .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Dublinesque review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Enrique Vila-Matas' new novel, Dublinesque.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



26 May 2012 - Saturday

Franz Kafka Prize | Baha Taher Q & A | Caine Prize discussions
Writers' houses | (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists

       Franz Kafka Prize

       The Franz Kafka Prize, which got a lot of attention a few years back when the winner went on to win the Nobel in the same year in two successive years, has announced that the Ceny Franze Kafky 2012 goes to Daniela Hodrová; see also the report at literalab, as well as the Daniela Hodrová pages at the useful Czech Literature Portal.
       Hodrová had a couple of works translated into a variety of European languages about twenty years ago, but for the past decade she seems to pretty much only be getting translated into Bulgarian (really). Jantar Publishing did recently bring out her Prague, I see a city... (described as: "Originally commissioned for a French series of alternative guidebooks", and only clocking in at 106 pages) -- get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- but she's clearly not nearly as well-known as the previous winners of this prize (who include Philip Roth, Murakami Haruki, Peter Handke, and, last year, John Banville).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Baha Taher Q & A

       At Qantara.de Karen Krüger has a Q & A with Egyptian writer Baha Taher, "Modern Egypt was built on the shoulders of intellectuals" [German original], specifically about the current elections.
       The only Taher title under review at the complete review is As Doha Said.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Caine Prize discussions

       Disappointingly, the recent announcement of the finalists for this year's Caine Prize for African Writing has also led to a variety of dirty laundry and accusations being aired: at Pambazuka Sokari Ekine reports on The Caine Prize and literary tensions.

       ('Biyi Bandele's Burma Boy -- mentioned in the plagiarism claims -- is under review at the complete review, but I have not had a chance to compare it to the story in question.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Writers' houses

       In The Telegraph Philip Hensher wonders: Supporters bid to preserve Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's home, but do we read too much into writers' houses ?
       (The easy answer: of course we do. My advice, always: ignore the authors and everything about them; the work is all that counts and matters.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists

       The shortlists for the (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards have been announced; the winners get A$80,000 -- tax-free (which apparently isn't the case for other literary awards down under, as the Miles Franklin-folk have recently complained; see, for example, Susan Wyndham's report, Trust pushes for $50,000 Miles Franklin prize to be declared tax free in the Sydney Morning Herald).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



25 May 2012 - Friday

Polizzotti on Albert Cossery | Rossica Translation Prize
University of Missouri Press closing | Search Sweet Country review

       Polizzotti on Albert Cossery

       Mark Polizzotti -- translator of Flaubert's Bouvard and Pécuchet and works by Jean Echenoz, among others -- considers Extreme Indolence: On the Fiction of Albert Cossery in The Nation.
       Polizzotti thinks:
If ever there was a writer who deserved the judgment "You've read one, you've read 'em all," itís Cossery.
       I'd argue that he's still (mostly) worthwhile; see the Cossery titles under review at the complete review (the same ones Polizzotti discusses):
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Rossica Translation Prize

       They've announced that the Rossica Translation Prize 2012 goes to John Elsworth, for his translation of Petersburg by Andrei Bely.
       Pushkin Press brought this out -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       There have been several translations of this work; I've only read the Robert A. Maguire and John E. Malmstad one from Indiana University Press (see their publicity page), but Penguin Classics also has one, by David McDuff (see their publicity page).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       University of Missouri Press closing

       In the Columbia Daily Tribune Janese Silvey reports that University of Missouri Press is closing [via]; no press release or notification at the official site, or the university site yet, last I checked .....
       Only one University of Missouri Press title is under review at the complete review -- Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America by Gail Pool -- but it's a shame they're shutting down.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Search Sweet Country review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kojo Laing's Search Sweet Country.
       The new version of the 'Heinemann African Writers Series' brought this out in a new edition recently (interestingly, the books wasn't published in the original AWS, but rather landed with more commercial publishers); McSweeney's is now bringing out the US edition.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



24 May 2012 - Thursday

Korean literature abroad | Istros Books | Indian classics in English
Author-royalties in Israel | Jezebel review

       Korean literature abroad

       In The Korea Herald Claire Lee reports that KLTI to select 15 authors for global launch, as:
The Korea Literature Translate Institute announced on Tuesday they will select 15 local writers and support them with publishing their works overseas.

The 300 million-won ($257,000) project consists of translating excerpts from the selected writer's works of fiction and sending them to literary agencies in foreign countries, especially the U.S. The institute is to announce the selected writers by the end of this year.
       The six-member committee that will select the writers "consists of literary critics, scholars and publishers"; it'll be interesting to see who they come up with.
       Also of interest:
The institute also announced that they'll support translation of Koreaís genre function, including crime, SF and mystery. Kim said American publisher AmazonCrossing is particularly interested in Korea's genre fiction.
       Good for AmazonCrossing -- way too little genre fiction is available in translation, especially from Korea, and I'd love to see some of this stuff.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Istros Books

       Another specialist publisher I'm glad to hear about: Istros Books -- who focus: "on quality literature in translation from South-East Europe".
       At The Economist's Eastern approaches weblog they introduce several of their writers, in A literary awakening in Montenegro -- I'm not entirely sure about Andrej Nikolaidis' The Coming, described as a: "detective novel meets Dan Brown mixed with the tale of Sabbatai Zevi", but I am kind of curious; see also their publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       The other title that's mentioned is Hansen's Children by Ognjen Spahić; see also the publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Indian classics in English

       In The Hindu Sohini Chakravorty reports on Revisiting Indian classics, as Indian readers are apparently turning to many Indian classics -- in English translation:
Author and blogger Arnab Ray explains the trend and says, "Our generation spends a lot of time on the Net reading almost exclusively English. This has made many of us increasingly more confident and comfortable reading in English as opposed to in our mother tongues. I think it is more a matter of familiarity with the English script that pushes us to translations of works written in Indian languages. Because of the number of Indian languages we have, the regional market is fragmented and translation to English consolidates that."
       It would be great if the original versions were circulating more widely, too, but I certainly can't complain about more becoming available in English.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Author-royalties in Israel

       In Israel the widely-perceived threat to the health of the publishing industry is not an online-behemoth such as Amazon.com, but rather two market-dominating book chains, and as Maya Sela reports in Haaretz, 'Oz, Grossman, 270 others sign letter urging Culture Minister Limor Livnat to press passage of 'Book Bill'', in Authors demand protection from royalty-cutting book chains, as:
The writers said the intense competition between the two largest bookstore chains, Tzomet Books and Steimatzky, is endangering the viability of many publishers and severely reducing author royalties.
       Ah, yes, book pricing apparently remains difficult to get right anywhere in the world .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Jezebel review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Irène Némirovsky's Jezebel, now also available in the US in Sandra Smith's translation that came out in the UK in 2010.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



23 May 2012 - Wednesday

New Krasznahorkai | Censorship in ... Tunisia
The no-longer-Orange Prize | Twenty-five percent of the adult fiction market

       New Krasznahorkai

       At hlo Lajos Jánossy reviews Krasznahorkai László's just-out-in-Hungarian Nem kérdez, nem válaszol ('Doesn't Ask, Doesn't Answer'; see also the Magvető publicity page).
       Apparently:
The writerís voice is the same that we are familiar with from his other books: the voice of the narrator of his prose, a passionate, insistent and resonant voice; a single, long monologue, so to say, an incessant linguistic action, or in other words, as the writer himself describes his art: a holy mass.
       Ah, well, for now you'll just have to make due with Satantango.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Censorship in ... Tunisia

       At Tunisia Live Farah Samti reports that Literary Censorship Persists in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia; apparently (and I suppose hardly surprisingly): "Now, it is a religion-based type of censorship".
       It's also not of the entirely straightforward sort:
Abdessatar Zaafrani, a Tunisian lawyer, says that Tunisia never had a specific censorship law. "The most common way of forcing censorship is hiding behind excuses that the book could disturb public order, or that it is against our culture and faith," he explained, elaborating that, "the judiciary system plays a crucial role when it comes to literary censorship.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The no-longer-Orange Prize

       Say what you will about American literary prizes, but at least they manage to maintain their identities and keep their names straight -- Pulitzers, National Book Awards, National Book Critics Circle Awards: there's no sponsorship-messing with those brands (presumably, of course, because they're such small beer that they hardly seem worth sponsoring to anybody, and presumably also since the idea that literature could be a marketing-angle probably seems laughable to any American corporate entity). (Okay, the National Book Awards did go through that ill-advised 'The American Book Awards'-phase (28 prizes in 16 separate categories !) during the 1980s -- but who remembers the eighties ... ?)
       Compare that to the UK, where the Booker became the Man Booker, the Whitbred Awards became the Costa Whitbread Book Awards -- and now we're going to have to call it the no-longer-Orange Prize since they've announced:
we can now confirm that 2012 will be the final year of Orange's association
       Of course, they could always keep the name (does anyone really associate it with this Orange company anyway ?) -- but presumably they're eager to sell out to the highest bidder and will accept whatever new name is foisted on them.

       As to these Orange people, Benedicte Page reports in The Bookseller, in Orange to cease sponsorship of Fiction Prize:
The mobile services company, which has been the award's sponsor since the prize was first set up 17 years ago, is to focus on its film industry sponsorship going forward.
       Sounds a lot more expensive -- but presumably the rewards of literary sponsorship were simply too meagre to continue to justify.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Twenty-five percent of the adult fiction market

       I've paid little attention to the 'Fifty Shades'-phenomenon -- E.L.James' soft-porn success story that has gotten enough attention everywhere else -- but its success now makes even me stop and wonder (and howl in baffled disappointment at what this world has come to) as in Publishers Weekly they report Fifty Shades Trilogy Tops 10 Million Sold, as:
Anthony Chrico, president of Knopf Doubleday, said the division has been reprinting the books "on a weekly basis since publication" with, he added, certain daily reprints of over 950,000 copies.
       Chrico adds:
BookScan data indicates that the trilogy has captured twenty-five percent of the adult fiction market in recent weeks.
       These are jaw-dropping, mind-numbing statistics. I suppose it's good to see a book generate this unheard level of interest and find so many readers; if a book can take off like this in 2012, well, publishing surely ain't entirely dead ..... And yet, and yet .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



22 May 2012 - Tuesday

Prizes: Prémio Camões - Commonwealth regional winners
Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize | Vlad review

       Prize: Prémio Camões

       They've announced that Brazilian author Dalton Trevisan has won this year's Prémio Camões, the leading Portuguese-language author prize (and worth €100,000); see, for example, the report at the Portuguese-American Journal.
       Knopf actually brought out his The Vampire Of Curitiba a while back (1972 ...) -- and it was reviewed in, among other places, The New York Times Book Review (as well as, for example, Kirkus Reviews); you can try to get a copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. That appears to be it, however, as far as translations into English go -- I wonder whether the Camões nod, forty years on, will get him a second look .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prize: Commonwealth regional winners

       They've announced the regional winners for the Commonwealth Book Prize (which is now (only) a first book prize) and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize; the only title under review at the complete review is Shehan Karunatilaka's Chinaman, now out in the US as The Legend of Pradeep Mathew.
       They report that, impressively, there was: "a pool of 2200 entries" for the story prizes.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prize: Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize

       They've announced that Burton Pike has won this year's Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize -- a US$10,000 award for the best translation of a German literary work into English --, for his translation of Gerhard Meier's Isle of the Dead.
       Admirably, and essentially (I'm looking at you, Man Booker folk ...), the names of all the submitted titles are available online; there appear to be 29 titles that were in the running (almost a quarter of them -- seven -- from Seagull Books, a publisher based in India ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Vlad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Carlos Fuentes' Vlad, forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



21 May 2012 - Monday

Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt-Preis | Writing about ... physics
The Chemistry of Tears review

       Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt-Preis

       The Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt-Preis -- a €15,000 German translation prize -- has been awarded to Frank Heibert, translator of Don DeLillo's Underworld, as well as books by Mark Twain, Tobias Wolff, and Richard Ford; see, for example, the report in the Berliner Morgenpost (yes, sigh, nothing at the official site yet, last I checked ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Writing about ... physics

       The Nullius in verba considers Physics's PR problem: Moving beyond string theory and multiple universes, as:
The problem is that most of the popular physics that the public enjoys constitutes perhaps 10% of the research that physicists worldwide are engaged in. Again, count the number of physics books in your local bookstore, and you will notice that about 90% of them cover quantum mechanics, cosmology, particle physics and "theories of everything". You would be hard-pressed to find volumes on condensed matter physics, biophysics, the physics of "soft" matter like liquids and non-linear dynamics. And yes, these are bonafide fields of physics that have engaged physics's best minds for decades and which are as exciting as any other field of science.
       Of course, other sciences have similar issues.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Chemistry of Tears review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Peter Carey's new novel, The Chemistry of Tears.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



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