Translating literature is challenging, Bannanje Govindacharya, scholar, said on Sunday.
He was releasing the Sanskrit version of Parva, a novel originally written in Kannada by S.L. Bhyrappa.
Parva (ಪರ್ವ) has been translated into a number of languages -- including English (get your copy at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or, in India, Flipkart) -- but to find a contemporary work translated into ... Sanskrit is unusual.
Even odder -- or, perhaps, making the selection not that surprising ? -- is that the novel is a retelling of that great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata.
Which would at least, one imagine, make some of the translation choices that had to be made somewhat easier .....
The Jakarta Globe reports on Using Technology to Preserve Indonesia's Literary History, looking into some of the efforts of the admirable Lontar Foundation in spreading the word about Indonesian literature (and many of the words of that literature itself, as they publish an excellent series of books in translation, several of which are under review at the complete review).
So, for example:
While Lontar is currently looking for professional translators and editors willing to volunteer to pore over projects at a highly reduced pay rate, the foundation is also in search of literature-lovers looking to help get the word out about Indonesian writers through Wikipedia, which over the years has gone from being an object of ridicule to a sought-after source of reliable information.
(Yeah, that 'at a highly reduced pay rate' is rough .....)
As part of the project, the foundation is recruiting volunteers to help write biographies of Indonesian writers, poets and playwrights for Wikipedia.
Lontar will provide prospective volunteers with a two-hour training session, access to research materials and support on how to properly write and contribute articles to Wikipedia in both Indonesian and English.
AS RIA Novosti reports, Soviet Sci-Fi Legend Strugatsky Dies at 79.
He outlived his brother by quite a bit, but is now also dead.
The only Strugatsky-brother title under review at the complete review is Roadside Picnic, but I do hope to get to more eventually.
(And I'd love to see more be translated and available in English .....)
At Eurozine Mario Vargas Llosa "discusses the relative merits of 'high' and 'mass' culture in the contemporary world and defends the ideas explored in his recent book La civilización del espectáculo" with Gilles Lipovetsky in "Proust is important for everyone" in a translation of a piece previously published in Letras Libres
Patrick White admirably used his Nobel winnings to endow the Patrick White Literary Award, and as Susan Wyndham reports in Religion shapes winner's prose in the Sydney Morning Herald Amanda Lohrey has taken this year's prize.
In The Guardian James Campbell 'finds clarity and lyricism in the work of a difficult artist', in Ian Hamilton Finlay: the concrete poet as avant gardener.
Among the first used books I recall buying in my teens (at the long-lost Barnes & Noble Sales Annex on 18th and Fifth, across the street from the flagship store) was the New Directions 22 annual, with his 'Wooden Fish' on the cover; it made a big impression on me (and I still have it).
See also the Tate Ian Hamilton Finlay page -- and, of course, the Little Sparta site.
At Publishing Perspectives Daniel Kalder writes about Fighting to Build "Brand Bulgaria" in Literature as he profiles the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation -- unusual, as he notes, in being: "a private organization dedicated to promoting a national literature".
Despite some untypical (for Kalder) nonsense -- "Today Milan Kundera dominates our perceptions of Czech literature" (huh ??!? now-French-writing Kundera dominates our perceptions of Czech literature today ? maybe in the 1970s, but now ?) -- it's fairly interesting, as are the efforts by the Kostova foundation.
And Bulgarian literature is certainly under-represented in (English) translation.
Though I remain surprised that no US/UK publisher has picked up Alek Popov yet -- Мисия Лондон, Черната Кутия .....
Last night they announced the winners of the (American) National Book Awards (not to be confused with the (Specsavers) National Book Awards -- which are, after all, in an entirely different class as the "Oscars of the publishing industry" ...)).
The fiction prize went to The Round House, by Louise Erdrich; get your copy at Amazon.com; no UK edition yet, apparently).
The non- prize went to Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Yet another article that finds: 'Mo Yan's Nobel prize has sparked a global wave of interest in Chinese literature and the foreign book market is hungry for China-themed publications', as Mei Jia and Wang Kaihao report in The story gets better for publishers, in China Daily.
Some interesting general numbers, including that:
China's publishing industry is now eight times larger than it was in 2002.
The income derived from books and press publications was 1.45 trillion yuan ($232 billion) in 2011, accounting for 60 percent of the culture industry's total earnings.
Meanwhile, the ratio of imported to exported titles has become more balanced -- from 15-to-1 in 2002 to 2.1-to-1 in 2011, according to the GAPP, and the number of titles available in the mainstream Western market has risen dramatically.
They've announced that Vladimir Makanin has been awarded the 2012 European Prize for Literature (not to be confused with the multi-author European Union Prize for Literature ...).
"Solzhenitsyn meets Kafka in two novellas of surreal bleakness that mark Makanin's U.S. debut" saidPublishers Weekly about Escape Hatch back in 1996 (get your copy at Amazon.co.uk; it seems to be out of print in the US), but he doesn't seem to have really caught on in English.
Though The Loss did appear in Northwestern University Press' excellent 'Writings from an Unbound Europe'-series; get your copy at Amazon.com.
They've announced the winners of the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award winners, one each in English and French in seven different categories.
Much as I like the abbreviation for this award as the 'GGs', they might be taking this a bit too far when they write:
So they announced the longlist for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award yesterday: 154 books, including 43 by American authors and 42 translated out of 19 different languages (but none from the Chinese ? none from the Arabic ? none from the Russian ? only one from Japanese ? seriously ? out of 154 books ?).
See the full list here -- unfortunately not presented as a simple list, but rather with cover-pictures, etc.
(I'd be more impressed if they didn't misspell some of the author name -- 'Delphime de Vigan' ? 'Horatio Castellanos Moya' ? again: seriously ? the names are printed on the god damn covers, guys .....)
As usual, it's a very, very mixed bag; as usual, too, far too many of the nominating libraries prove to be outrageously nationalistic (surely the most obvious step this prize should have taken long ago: no nominations of home-country authors permitted).
Quite a few of these titles are under review at the complete review:
As love german books notes, they've announced that the Swiss Book Prize (which is, of course, merely the Swiss German Book Prize -- French, Italian, etc. works not welcome) has gone to the essay-collection, Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost, by Peter von Matt; see also the Hanser publicity page.
It beat out 75 other entries, and while it's disappointing to see that non beats out fiction (and also that they're lumped together here ...), von Matt is certainly a fine writer.
They're announcing the longlist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award today; look for it at the new official site(though neither much of the site nor any of the longlist was available yet, last time I checked); [updated] you can now find the longlist here; I'll have my comments tomorrow.
As always, a few Irish papers get to jump gun, and so there's already a bit of information about the longlist -- including that it consists of 154 titles, of which 43 are American, 22 British, 12 Canadian, and 8 Irish novels.
No word yet on how many books in translation made the cut [updated: apparently 42, translated from 19 languages].
For these early reports, see, for example, Impac book award longlist revealed in the Irish Herald, and Eileen Battersby reporting that A record eight Irish writers feature on Impac longlist in the Irish Times.
And, please, commentators and journalists, do not make the mistake the Irish Herald report makes (and dozens of others invariably do, every year) and claim that the IMPAC is: "the world's richest literary prize".
Not even close.
(See the Wikipedia List of the world's richest literary prizes for the many other book prizes ahead of it on the list .....)
As I mentioned last week, On Black Sisters' Street, by Chika Unigwe, was awarded this year's Nigeria Prize for Literature (get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- and now Vanguard has a Q & A with her.
This year's Singapore Writers Festivals was intellectually stimulating and creatively designed, with new issues and ideas that are sure to open up new literary possibilities both in Singapore and overseas.
On the table are proposals like expanding the judging pool beyond just writers who judge in their own genre to include well-known cultural figures of all types, and limiting for the first time who may submit award entries.
(Now, any publisher can submit as many books as it wants in any category as long as the author is an American citizen.)
Limiting the number of books that can be submitted ??!?
I have a suggestion: how about some transparency ?
Reveal what books have been submitted and are being considered -- not just the very few finalists.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ragna Sigurðardóttir's The Perfect Landscape -- another Icelandic novel from AmazonCrossing.
Interesting to see, too: full-page ads for AmazonCrossing in the November issues of both The Atlantic and Harper's -- both highlighting three titles (Pull Yourself Together by Thomas Glavinic and The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko in both; this title in Harper's and Perihan Magden's Escape in The Atlantic).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Szentkuthy Miklós' 1939 Marginalia on Casanova, the first volume in his St. Orpheus Breviary, finally available in English, from Contra Mundum Press.