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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 September 2012

1 September: Amit Chaudhuri on Indian English writing | Indian Nobel campaign | In Time's Rift review
2 September: E-book reviews | English writing in ... Sri Lanka | September issues | Deon Meyer Q & A
3 September: Reading in ... South Africa | Reading in ... India | The Quarterly Conversation - Fall issue | Blindly review
4 September: Prizes: Premio FIL de Literatura - Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist - Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature shortlist | Literaturkanon | Granta abroad
5 September: Prix Goncourt longlist | Syed Mustafa Siraj (1930-2012) | Chinese literature abroad | Bookselling in ... Israel | Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle review
6 September: International Literature Festival Berlin | Swiss Book Prize shortlist | Wellcome Trust Book Prize longlist
7 September: Horacio Vázquez-Rial (1947-2012) | Livraria Suburbano Convicto | The Cocktail Waitress review
8 September: Iranian fiction in ... Israel | Translation in ... Viet Nam | Philip Roth in legacy-controlling mode
9 September: Young Blood gets Wole Soyinka Prize | Jo Nesbø profile | Howard Jacobson Q & A | The Thursday Night Men review
10 September: Literary festival previews | Palanca Awards for Literature recap | Malayalam Science Literature Awards | Les Murray as anthologist | Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth review

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10 September 2012 - Monday

Literary festival previews | Palanca Awards for Literature recap
Malayalam Science Literature Awards | Les Murray as anthologist
Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth review

       Literary festival previews

       In the Jalarta Globe Nico Novito promises that Come October, Literary Heaven in Ubud, as he previews the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which runs 3-7 October.
       Meanwhile, in The Sun they report that GCLF: Soyinka, Amadi lead books of the festival, previewing the Garden City Literary Festival that will be held in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 15-20 October.

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

       Palanca Awards for Literature recap

       They held the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature last week, the Philippnes' 'most prestigious and longest-running literary contest', and while the official site doesn't have the results yet (sigh ...), you can find all the winners here, for example. (They only hand out the 'grand prizes', for best novel (one in English, one in Tagalog) every three years, so we have to wait another two until that one is awarded again.)
       Now Alfred A. Yuson also offers a recap, Reliving the tradition: The 62nd Palanca Awards, in The Philippine Star -- quoting that:
For this year's Palanca Awards, we received a total number of 1,077 entries in 20 categories. 57 judges awarded prizes to 59 winning works from 58 authors, 29 of whom are former winners, and an equal number of 29 who are new winners.
       Sounds like there's some literary enthusiasm there .....

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

       Malayalam Science Literature Awards

       AS IBN live reports, in the Indian state of Kerala Science Literature Awards announced.
       While I think it's fiction that should be getting pretty much all the attention, I grant that it's pretty nice that there's local support for local science writing too -- the ₹25,000 prize-money isn't a fortune (less than US $500), but it's not bad, and the recognition has to count for something, too.

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

       Les Murray as anthologist

       In this month's issue of Quadrant, Alan Gould considers Les Murray, Anthologist.
       Quite a few of Murray's works are under review at the complete review; see our Les Murray-page.

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

       Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Catalan author Salvador Espriu's classic (and often re-worked) Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth, just out from Dalkey Archive Press.

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

9 September 2012 - Sunday

Young Blood gets Wole Soyinka Prize | Jo Nesbø profile
Howard Jacobson Q & A | The Thursday Night Men review

       Young Blood gets Wole Soyinka Prize

       They've apparently announced the title that has won this year's Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa (though not yet at that official site, last I checked ...), and as Ozolua Uhakheme reports in The Nation South African wins Soyinka Literary Prize (because apparently they think it's not the book that wins the prize, and it doesn't matter what the author's name is, it's where s/he comes from that is the only thing that's of any importance ...).
       So Young Blood, by Sifiso Mzobe (not that they manage to spell his name right, either ...), took the prize.
       It's not readily available at the Amazons, but see, for example, the NB publicity page. And after also winning last year's Sunday Times Literary Prize for fiction you figure someone has got to pick this up for the US/UK markets ... right ?

       (Updated - 15 September): See now also newspaper reports of the prize ceremony, Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature: Another South African writer shines by Henry Akubuiro in The Sun and Crowning of Mzobe as Africa's literary king by Anote Ajeluoro in The Guardian (Nigeria).

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

       Jo Nesbø profile

       In the Independent on Sunday James Kidd profiles Jo Nesbo: 'A Norwegian killed a lot of other Norwegians. How proud can you be about that ?'
       I can't believe The Bat will already be out shortly in the UK (pre-order your copy at -- I'm just set to get to Phantom, due out shortly in the US (pre-order your copy at .....

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

       Howard Jacobson Q & A

       In The Observer Elizabeth Day has a Q & A with Howard Jacobson: 'I write fiction. The others write crap'.
       Gotta like that attitude ......
       Also amusing:
Do you see a similar disconnect between your reputation and who you really are ?

I did at one point. Early on, people thought I was louche and wild and provocative. Now I worry that I've over-mellowed ... I'm tame now, aren't I ? I'm just a National Treasure. People want to pat me.

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

       The Thursday Night Men review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tonino Benacquista's The Thursday Night Men.
       I remind you that the original French title was the more appropriate Homo erectus; the Spanish went with that as well, but the Italians also wimped out and chose the American-style alternative.

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

8 September 2012 - Saturday

Iranian fiction in ... Israel | Translation in ... Viet Nam
Philip Roth in legacy-controlling mode

       Iranian fiction in ... Israel

       In Al Monitor Elad Zeret reports Persian and Hebrew books to bridge between Iran and Israel, which sounds like a great idea.
       Unfortunately, for now, it looks like a small, one-way street -- but still with a pretty good start by translator Orly Noy:
The two books translated by Noy -- My Uncle Napoleon (by Iraj Pezeshkzad) and The Colonel (by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi) -- were just recently published by Am Oved.
       (I don't have My Uncle Napoleon under review, but I have read it, and it's a (comic) classic (get your copy at or
       So I hope there's some Iranian publisher translating Amos Oz, etc. .....

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

       Translation in ... Viet Nam

       As the Viet Nam Writers Association plans to launch a translation center to help promote Vietnamese literature abroad, VNS' Culture Vulture has a Q & A with critic and translator Pham Xuan Nguyen 'about translating literature from and into Vietnamese'
       He notes:
Translating literature needs three types of people: translators, editors and critics. At present we are lacking editors and critics.

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

       Philip Roth in legacy-controlling mode

       Philip Roth sure as hell appears to be trying to make sure that he's the one who decides exactly what his legacy looks like.
       First came the news that he's given his seal of approval to yet another 'official biographer' (it didn't work out with the last one ...), some guy named Blake Bailey, who's done this kind of thing before. Approved as biographer: there's a double-edged sword if ever there was one. As the ArtsBeat post by Charles McGrath has it, Philip Roth to Cooperate With New Biographer -- and, sure, any biographer wants as much access to (and 'coöperation' from ...) his subject(-matter) as possible, but how reliable can someone like Roth -- a lifelong reshaper of (mostly his own) facts-into-fiction -- possibly be expected to be ?
       Now Roth has posted An Open Letter to Wikipedia at The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog, 'explaining' that
I am Philip Roth. I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel "The Human Stain." The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip -- there is no truth in it at all.
       I have to wonder what possessed him -- for someone who has (apparently) shown no interest in Wikipedia pages on his work previously, not even bothering to look at them. Looks a lot like a very vigorous effort at legacy-shaping -- and surely a really bad sign for a would-be biographer ('would-be' because I'll believe it when (i.e. if) I see the book -- "The project will take him 8 to 10 years to complete, he estimated, and he plans shortly to send out a proposal to book publishers", sheesh ...).
       Sure, you can argue that Roth is just trying to set the record straight -- begging still the question: why now (the Broyard-mention has been included on the Wikipedia page since at least 2005 (see here, last paragraph)), as well as: to what end ?
       I am amused to see that Roth had to resort to an 'open letter' to Wikipedia -- but fully agree with the Wikipedia Administrator that: "I, Roth, was not a credible source". Authors may not be the last people to trust re. their own books, but they certainly aren't very high up on the list; I'm disappointed that they have found this open letter sufficient that it has led them change the page entirely to his wishes.
       (I also note that Roth did not contact Wikipedia directly but did so through an "interlocutor" -- and surely it's a safe rule of thumb that if you employ an 'interlocutor' (speak: lawyer, 'literary' agent (and guess whose Roth's is ...), etc.) to get something like this done for you you're acting like an asshole and probably have something to hide.)
       Roth spins a plausible sort of story in his open letter -- but given that he's a professional story-spinner ... well, again, his is not the first person's testimony I would want to rely on, in this or any matter having to do with his fiction.
       More importantly: why does anyone care -- Broyard ? Tumin ? what does it matter ? It's a novel -- and it's the novel that counts. The fiction Roth created, however he created it .....
       Meanwhile, at Slate's browbeat-weblog Jonah Weiner weighs in, wondering Philip Roth Taught a Course at Bard; Did It Inspire The Human Stain ?
       I look forward to the day when we can all stop wondering and focus on the book, and treat it like it should be treated: a novel, a work of fiction .....

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

7 September 2012 - Friday

Horacio Vázquez-Rial (1947-2012) | Livraria Suburbano Convicto
The Cocktail Waitress review

       Horacio Vázquez-Rial (1947-2012)

       Argentine-born author Horacio Vázquez-Rial has passed away; see, for example, the EFE report at the Latin American Herald Tribune, Spain's Great Forgotten Writer Horacio Vazquez-Rial Dies.
       See also his official site -- and note also that he worked as a translator, and his list of translations impressively ranges from D.W.Winnicott to V.S.Naipaul to Ring Lardner (though admittedly that 'Susan Sonntag' mention does not look good ...).
       Only Triste's History appears to be available in English -- get your copy from or -- from readers international (and I'm so pleased to see they're still around, with a website that almost makes this one look ... up-to-date).

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

       Livraria Suburbano Convicto

       At Thiago Borges profiles Livraria Suburbano Convicto (which is a hell of a name for a bookstore), 'Brazil's only bookstore specializing in marginal literature', in Brazil: Writers from the outskirts of São Paulo take center stage.
       It is certainly admirable in its way:
Marginal literature is a literary movement made up of writers from the popular classes, people who live on the margins of society and write about the daily life of poverty and crime they see outside their windows.
       But, as someone whose entire literary philosophy is diametrically opposed to the 'write-what-you-know' school of writing (the last thing I want to read about is what anybody sees outside their windows -- for god's sake, if I had any patience for that I might think non-fiction was worth anyone's while ...) I have to admit that this isn't really my kind of thing.
       More power (and cash) to those writers, yes -- but move on, folks.

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

       The Cocktail Waitress review

       One of the highlights of the fall publishing season is Hard Case Crime having found and now published James M. Cain's last novel, and a review of that much-anticipated title, The Cocktail Waitress, is the most recent addition to the complete review

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

6 September 2012 - Thursday

International Literature Festival Berlin | Swiss Book Prize shortlist
Wellcome Trust Book Prize longlist

       International Literature Festival Berlin

       The International Literature Festival Berlin runs through 16 September. With its impressive list of participants there's a lot that's of interest there.

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

       Swiss Book Prize shortlist

       Via love german books I see that the five-title-strong shortlist for the Swiss Book Prize has been announced.
       This is, of course, the German Swiss book prize, which apparently ignores what's written in French, Italian, and Romansh; still, it at least gives some sense of what's being written in Switzerland. The 76 titles submitted for the prize were seven more than last year -- and the forty-five publishers submitting titles five more than last year.

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

       Wellcome Trust Book Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize -- which: "celebrates medicine in literature" (and is worth £25,000).
       Admirably: "Books published in English translation are eligible"; interestingly (and oddly) none of the fourteen longlisted titles appears to be a translation. Are there so few books-in-translation that 'celebrate medicine in literature' ? Apparently so .....

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

5 September 2012 - Wednesday

Prix Goncourt longlist | Syed Mustafa Siraj (1930-2012)
Chinese literature abroad | Bookselling in ... Israel
Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle review

       Prix Goncourt longlist

       The French literary prize season now also starts to get rolling, beginning with the announcement of the première sélection pour le prix Goncourt 2012.
       Among the authors with books in the running who have previously had books translated into English are Tierno Monénembo, Mathias Énard, Linda Lê, and Vassilis Alexakis; apparently the failure of Olivier Adam's Les Lisières (see the Flammarion publicity page, get your copy at to make this longlist is the (relatively) big surprise.

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

       Syed Mustafa Siraj (1930-2012)

       Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty just had a Q & A with Bengali author Syed Mustafa Siraj in The Hindu, So says Siraj, and his collection Die, said the Tree and other stories is just out from Katha (see their publicity page), but now, as Ziya Us Salam reports, this Voice of the 'other' India falls silent, as he's died; see also the Times of India report, Literary world to miss its bohemian genius.
       Very little is available in English, but The Colonel Investigates seems to be available at -- as well as at Flipkart.

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

       Chinese literature abroad

       Yet more complaining about how, as Xu Ming puts it in the Global Times, the Journey West proves difficult for Chinese literature.
       They just held the Beijing International Book Fair -- and:
But going through the exhibition hall reveals that stands of foreign publishers like Penguin were crowded, while stands for Chinese publishers were desolate.
       Looking for excuses as to why Chinese literature hasn't boomed abroad, they come up with all the usual nonsense too:
Chinese literature also suffers from prejudice caused by the discrepancy in culture and politics.

"It is widely accepted bias in the West that Chinese writers cannot create great literature because of a lack of freedom," Jin Renshun, a writer from Jilin Province, told the Global Times.

"They like literature that touch upon controversial politics in China. Subversive writers are preferred."

Such preference prevents Chinese literature from being recognized and understood.
       That must be it !

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

       Bookselling in ... Israel

       So now they've passed -- at least in a 'first reading' in the Knesset (so it's not the law of the land yet) -- a 'Law for the Protection of Literature and Authors' in Israel -- and guess what ! not everybody is happy about it !
       As Zvi Zrahiya and Adi Dovrat-Meseritz report in Haaretz, Publishers say book legislation is unfair.
       Since some of the publishers aren't just in bed with one of the two dominant book-chains but actually have ownership stakes -- notably Kinneret Zmora-Bitan -- that's a bit ... rich. As are their complaints:
Kinneret Zmora-Bitan said it supported the law in principle, but wants to remove three sections that harm competition between stores -- and harm consumers. One bans bookstores from favoring any specific publisher.

A second clause bans publishers from pushing sales via the book stores, and a third bars publishers from refusing to sell books to stores.
       Sound like pretty sensible, competition-enhancing (and hence consumer-serving) clauses to me .....

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

       Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Stuart P. Green on Theft Law in the Information Age, in Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle.

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

4 September 2012 - Tuesday

Prizes: Premio FIL de Literatura - Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist
Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature shortlist
Literaturkanon | Granta abroad

       Prize: Premio FIL de Literatura

       They've announced that Alfredo Bryce Echenique is this year's winner of the FIL Literary Prize -- "presented in recognition for lifetime achievement in any literary genre" (and worth US $150,000 -- yet another Spanish-language literary prize that belongs on the Wikipedia List of the world's richest literary prizes ... [updated: and, indeed, it has now been added]). With previous winners that include local favorites Augusto Monterroso, Juan Goytisolo, and António Lobo Antunes it looks like it can be taken pretty seriously.
       A World for Julius is probably the best-known-available-in-English book by Bryce Echenique (get your copy at or -- but, honestly, aren't you more curious about Tarzan's Tonsillitis (get your copy at or ?
       See also the report in the Latin American Herald Tribune, Peru's Bryce Echenique Wins Mexican Literature Prize.

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

       Prize: Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist

       They've announced the Shortlist of 10 for the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2012.
       This prize rotates through four different genres from year to year, but this year it's the one that counts: the prose fiction prize.
       This initial shortlist (apparently a shorter one is due soon) was drawn from 214 entries -- substantially more than, oh, say, the Man Booker Prize .....

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

       Prizes: Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature shortlist

       They've narrowed down the contenders for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa -- a pan-African prize which they try to sell a bit too hard as 'Africa's Nobel' (and whose US $20,000 prize is decent, but not even in the Nigeria Prize for Literature ballpark ...) -- and announced the three-title-strong shortlist (warning ! dreaded pdf format !). (They announced this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't see it mentioned anywhere .....)
       The three books are:
  • Roses and Bullets by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo
  • The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt
  • Young Blood by Sifiso Mzobe

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


       The German weekly Die Zeit has been running a series on a post-war literay canon of European literature, naming some 70 novels -- ten for each post-war decade -- that they think belong. Iris Radisch explains the exercise in Europas Weltliteratur, and the novels are listed -- annoyingly over six pages, rather than in one simple, neat list ... -- here.
       For a German-heavy list there are some striking omissions -- led by Peter Weiss' epochal The Aesthetics of Resistance, though I'd also make a strong case for Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries. (The very few British selections are predictable, and the absence of other titles suggests they really don't get English lit at all.)
       Still, I'm surprised by how many of these I've read (a quick count suggests over fifty of the seventy), and quite a few are under review at the complete review (predictably, I read most of the older ones long before I started the site):        At The Economist's Prospero weblog A.C. discusses this and other lists, in The summer harvest of "best books" rankings.

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

       Granta abroad

       In The New York Times Larry Rohter looks at how literary magazine Granta is going international, in Literature in Any Language: Journal Takes That Literally.

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

3 September 2012 - Monday

Reading in ... South Africa | Reading in ... India
The Quarterly Conversation - Fall issue | Blindly review

       Reading in ... South Africa

       It's National Book Week in South Africa (sorry, there doesn't seem to be any link to any central site ...) and in The Times (South Africa) Siphiwo Mahala suggests We are what we write -- and that:
Book Week offers literary enthusiasts a glorious opportunity, without being prompted by controversy and sensationalism, to interrogate the trajectory of our literary architecture with a view to shaping its growth.
       Mahala notes that there is much that is very positive going on in South Africa -- but also that there is something of a disconnect:
The establishment of new literary journals, blogs, online discussion forums and other electronic media, the proliferation of book fairs and literary festivals, the emergence of new publishers and the publication of hordes of new authors bear testimony to a thriving literary landscape.

Sadly, our burgeoning literary output has not translated into a sizeable increase in consumption.
       Ah, yes ... consumption. Where are the readers ? (Note, of course, that this is a lament and complaint that is hardly unique to South Africa; see also the next item .....)

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

       Reading in ... India

       Okay, this is a headline that I could probably dig up every other day, in a different newspaper in a different nation each time: yes, it's that old standard, Critics regret death of reading habit.
       This report happens to be by Aloke Chatterjee, in the Hindustan Times.
       Part of the fun in pointing to these pieces is that they are also reliably full of silly quotes -- and this one starts out with a beauty:
Literary stalwarts regretted the diminishing habit of buying and reading books, a fact reflected in the lack of values among the youth of today.
       The kids of today ! A line that never gets tired, generation after generation after generation .....
       Here too we find insights such as:
Vajpayee regretted, that the reading public has failed to develop a resistentative taste with the result, that globally, pygmies were at the top everywhere.
       Blame the reading (and/or non-reading) public, that's the ticket !

       On the other hand, there are some publishing successes -- books people buy and read ! -- in India which maybe make you wonder: in The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose reports on the Metro Reads phenomenon (I've mentioned that new Penguin Books (India) imprint before, too), in Easy urban reads.
       The piece is a bit ... breathless ("It now boasts of its own logo !") -- and it's not exactly reassuring to read:
With a target audience of 18-35 year olds, it does tend to blur the lines between young adult and trade fiction, and yet, it has created a neat little identity of its own.

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

       The Quarterly Conversation - Fall issue

       Issue 29 of The Quarterly Conversation is now available -- a great batch of Labor Day holiday reading.

       Besides some reviews and a bit by Enrique Vila-Matas, there are several pieces that are part of a 'Harry Mathews Symposium'. I'm a big Mathews fan (see also the complete review Harry Mathews page) -- and while I almost never go to author readings with books to get signed, I did bring my copy of the omnibus edition Ed Park describes in his piece (get your (used) copy at (though Dalkey Archive Press now has reissued the novels in nice, shiny separate volumes, too)) to a Mathews/Oulipo event and had him sign it, many, many years ago.

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

       Blindly review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Claudio Magris' novel, Blindly, just out in Yale University Press' great Margellos World Republic of Letters series (though it was already published in a Canadian edition in 2010, by Hamish Hamilton).
       I'm surprised by the lack of pre-publication reviews -- and the lack of Canadian coverage when it came out there. A perennial Nobel Prize-contender, Magris hasn't made a huge splash in English, but he is fairly well-known, and this is quite an impressive work.
       (It is, however, the sort of book I'm tempted to write three reviews about, there's so much to be said about it, and different aspects of it.)

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

2 September 2012 - Sunday

E-book reviews | English writing in ... Sri Lanka
September issues | Deon Meyer Q & A

       E-book reviews

       They announced this a couple of weeks ago, and presumably the San Francisco Chronicle is only the first of what will be many outlets offering some variation on The E-Reader: reviews of e-books.
       As John McMurtrie explains there:
Without diminishing The Chronicle's longtime coverage of print books, we feel it's important to recognize new formats in book publishing. And so today the Books section inaugurates the E-Reader, a monthly column devoted to e-books. Many print books, of course, are simultaneously published electronically, but the column will focus on titles that are available solely as e-books.
       Liz Colville is handling the duties (like mystery or other genre-review sections in newspapers, they've oddly decided one reviewer can handle the entire e-variety ...), and here's her column this week: Reviews of e-books, Sept. 2.

       (I still struggle mightily with writing reviews based on e-formatted books; I recently did review one title but it was a painful experience; the total number of titles reviewed at the complete review based on e-formatted texts can still (just) be counted on one hand. What I would give for everything to be printed and available in mass-market paperback size, sigh ......)

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

       English writing in ... Sri Lanka

       In The Nation (Sri Lanka) Vihanga Perera considers English writing (and fiction in general) in Sri Lanka, in Unsold books, noting that:
The reality is that in Sri Lanka we do not have a vibrant literary traffic for Lankan authors' English writing. Except for a very limited number who have a cultivated nag to 'check out' the work of Lankan writers who hit the market, our writing in English has little movement at all.
       I love these articles for observations such as:
With state-of-the-art publication coming in our post off-set era, literary produce has become more an object of technology than what it has been up to the late-1980s. Exotic covers, content, marketing lines, writer thumbnails, sassy blurbs, gloss sheens, embossed fonts all become a part of literary transmission which is more market-strategy than literature.
       (Though really, once you refer to (or consider) anything as: 'literary produce' you might as well just hang it up right then and there.)

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

       September issues

       Among September issues of online publications now available online are Words without Borders' September 2012: Writing from the Silk Road issue, featuring: "work from Central Asia, Georgia, and China" (the former two woefully underrepresented any- and every-where), and the September issue of Open Letters Monthly.

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

       Deon Meyer Q & A

       In The Observer Alison Flood has a (disappointingly brief) Q & A with Deon Meyer: 'South Africa just isn't as sexy as Scandinavia'.
       I recently posted a review of his new novel, Seven Days, just out (more or less) in the US and UK.

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

1 September 2012 - Saturday

Amit Chaudhuri on Indian English writing | Indian Nobel campaign
In Time's Rift review

       Amit Chaudhuri on Indian English writing

       In The Caravan Amit Chaudhuri considers 'what counts for an indigenous tradition of Indian English writing ?' in The Sideways Movement (with a focus on Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's poetry).
       Among the interesting observations:
Midnight's Children was published to a neglectful silence in Britain, and then, after winning the Booker Prize, was almost immediately reassessed as having given, in the words of the New York Times reviewer, a "voice" to a "continent". Rushdie's novel should have been placed in the unique line of Indian cross-cultural works that Mehrotra was arguing for in his essay. Instead, Midnight's Children was appropriated by a powerful new discourse, postcolonialism; applauded for its 'difference' from 'well-made' English novels; congratulated for 'writing back' to the Empire and making English an Indian language -- while Rushdie cooperated with this large-scale makeover.

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

       Indian Nobel campaign

       Oh, this is so sad: The Indian Express reports that Man starts Nobel prize campaign for Indian writers, as:
A national fellow at the Indian Institute of Advances Studies in Shimla, Rajvinder Singh has initiated a campaign 'From patience to perseverance: Nobel for India, 2013' as he feels that Indian writers are not given the recognition they deserve.
       Nationalism is noxious under the best of circumstances, but when it comes to this sort of thing .....
       Most pathetically, this guy argues:
Through the yearly Nobel Prize for Literature, best writers from all languages of the world are being felicitated for their outstanding works. But for almost a century competent Indian writers have been left out.
       Can you believe it ?!?? Competent writers have been 'left out'. Because apparently it shouldn't be about excellence, but rather simply about ... competence, and about every nation having a turn ..... (And, yes, I realize you can argue that it doesn't look like it's always been about excellence at the Swedish Academy, but still .....)

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

       In Time's Rift review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of poet Ernst Meister's collection, In Time's Rift, now out from Wave Books.

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

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