Donald Keene, the famed scholar of Japanese literature, called Yasuoka one of the important writers of postwar Japan.
Odds and ends have been translated into English -- most recently the Dalkey Archive Press edition of the collection The Glass Slipper; see their publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
A while back Columbia University Press brought out the collection A View by the Sea; get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
At Totally Dublin Publishing Icon John Calder Interviewed by Kevin Breathnach [via].
Calder thinks Robbe-Grillet is the most underappreciated of the writers that he's published -- and says Aidan Higgins "is a very strange man. A great writer, though."
Many of the titles from his great publishing house are now published as The Calder Collection by Oneworld/Alma.
In The New York Times Magazine this weekend Robert F. Worth profiles prolific French author Gérard de Villiers, The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much [via].
He's one of these authors who is staggeringly popular domestically (for his S.A.S. series; see, for example, the Éditions Gérard de Villiers) -- and completely unknown in English.
(The only one of his books that appears to have been translated is his out of print 'informal biography' of the former Shah of Iran, The Imperial Shah.)
(Updated - 2 February): I spoke too soon (and carelessly); in fact, Pinnacle Books brought out quite a few 'Malko' titles in English in the 1970s, though they are now way out of print.
Still, Amazon lists quite a few: Kill Kissinger (get your copy at Amazon.com) sounds worth hunting down, Malko versus the CIA (get your copy at Amazon.com) is another one of the many blurbed by Harold Robbins ("Tremendous tales of high adventure and espionage"), while with installment number eleven, Hostage in Tokyo (get your copy at Amazon.com) they apparently thought they could do with just that cover and without the Robbins blurb .....
And how about Que viva Guevara (get your copy at Amazon.com) ?
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Rite for a Dead Man by U.R.Ananthamurthy, Samskara.
Ananthamurthy is one of the ten just-announced finalists for the Man Booker International Prize -- see my recent mention -- and it's nice to see him get some international-stage attention.
Though widely recognized as a modern Indian classic, the English translation of Samskara was not widely reviewed back in the day (or now ...).
But it's never too late .....
They announced the winner of this year'sWhitbread Costa Book Award, and, yes, Hilary Mantel has racked up another win, with the Man Booker-winning Bring up the Bodies.
I'm a longtime admirer of Mantel's work, but have stayed away from her latest historical fictions -- and when even Robert McCrum finds (in The Guardian) that this is: "A middlebrow triumph in a distinctly odd middlebrow prize" ... well, it confirms my decision not to be in any rush to get to it.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nele Neuhaus' Snow White must Die -- the fourth in her Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff series, but (sigh) the first (and, at this time, only) one available in English .....
They've announced the longlist for the (Dutch) European Literary Prize, to be awarded for 'the best European novel to appear in Dutch translation' in 2012 (Julian Barnes' Alsof het voorbij is was the winning title last year).
There are several translations from English, but what's striking is how many of these books -- including titles by Alessandro Baricco, Emmanuel Carrère, Mircea Cărtărescu, Julia Franck, Alexis Jenni, Gilles Leroy, and Torgny Lindgren -- have already been translated into Dutch (Dutch !) yet remain unavailable in English .....
(Longlisted titles by Karl Ove Knausgård and Javier Marías will be appearing in English -- but only later this year.)
Among the few non-English titles already longlisted that are already available in English are Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique by Gonҫalo M. Tavares, and Best Translated Book Award-winning Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski.
I'm a sucker for the (creative) use of real figures in fiction (see also the index of Real People in Works of Fiction under review at the complete review), and so something like Martin Page's L'apiculture selon Samuel Beckett (which I assume will be translated as 'Beekeeping with Samuel Beckett') certainly catches my eye; see, for example, the review in Le magazine littéraire.
This is Martin Page -- author of How I became Stupid --, so my hopes aren't too high ... but I am a bit curious.
I'm also surprised the Beckett estate hasn't crushed this (yet ?) .....
It's not really surprising that Timur Vermes' Er ist wieder da ('He's Back') has gotten some traction, even before the translation appears: the basic idea -- Hitler wakes up in 2011 Germany, and even if he can't quite change his old ways, they're seen a bit differently -- is a pretty catchy one.
The Daily Mail had a piece on this a few weeks ago -- Allan Hall's Hitler novel tops German chart -- and now in the Daily Star Yannick Pasquet also writes about this Comic novel imagining Hitler's return is German bestseller.
See also the New Books in Germaninformation page -- and note that English-language rights have been sold, to Maclehose Press/Quercus.
in 2011, there were far fewer books sold in Romania (total sales of €60m) than there were in neighbouring Hungary (total sales of €180m), which has a smaller population.
(I prefer unit-sales comparisons to sales value ones (after all, books might be three times as expensive in Hungary ...), but the difference is big enough to be of concern regardless.)
He also suggests:
It is high time that someone once again took a stand to say that "translations do not make a literary culture," and that they cannot and should not be substituted for freely undertaken original production in the language of this country and in the name of an ethos, which is ours alone.
It is once again time -- even if it is tiresome to repeat history -- for a Mihail Kogălniceanu [the 19th Century liberal politician, prime minister and cultural figure] to speak out against writing that comes to us from Potomac, St Petersburg or Tokyo
Pecican suggests that one: "need look no further than the percentage of editorial production in this country which is actually devoted to Romanian books" -- suggesting it's minimal, though, alas, without offering any hard (or soft or even anecdotal) numbers.
It's a tough balance -- between supporting local culture (good !) and xenophobic nationalism (not so great ...).
Of course greater appreciation/acknowledgement of Romanian literature abroad (and more translations !) would probably help, too ......
They've announced that Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil, has won this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
It's not under review at the complete review (and I don't really see myself getting to it anytime soon), but see the Faber publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Kenyan writers need to position themselves globally, using and re-purposing the aesthetic resources at their disposal to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Some Ugandan women writers like Kyomuhendo, Baingana, Kuguli, and Monica Arac de Nyeko have been fairly successful in this regard.
The future does not belong to the parochial nationalist or the tribalist who votes for his fellow tribesman and certified suspects.
It belongs to those who refuse to take the beaten track, those ready to experiment with language and talk about forbidden themes.
Good to see that the success Ugandan -- and especially Ugandan women -- writers have had is perhaps stoking ambitions elsewhere.
Certainly, Femrite has played a major role in fostering writing in Uganda, and that kind of community/organization is something others might want to try to emulate
This will be enormously expensive, very work intensive, and it will take years, and there is no clear economic objective
I'm looking forward to the books -- though there aren't many specifics yet (and nothing I could find at the Overlook site).
The article does claim: "The plan is to release 10 volumes a year starting in the fall of this year", so I hope things get rolling (and more detailed information becomes available) soon.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tales and Legends of the Orient by Vlas Doroshevich, What the Emperor Cannot Do.
This 1902 collection is apparently now available in English for the first time, in a volume from Glas -- the folks who also were the first to introduce Krzhizhanovsky to English-speaking readers (with Seven Stories).
This is something rather different, but certainly also a nice discovery, deserving a larger audience.
They've announced the ten finalists for the Man Booker International Prize -- the biennial pseudo-Nobel rival (slightly limited in that only authors whose work is "generally available in translation in the English language" are eligible).
Works by six of the ten finalists are under review at the complete review:
The other nominated authors are: U.R.Ananthamurthy [updated: see now also the review of Samskara], Lydia Davis, Marie NDiaye, and Josip Novakovich.
A couple of observations:
- there are no African, no Arabic-writing, no Spanish-writing (or indeed Latin/South American of any sort), no Japanese authors ...
- I remind you that for the 2005 prize Alberto Manguel reported (see also my discussion) that back then: "from the list of first-rate authors we wished to propose we had to delete Peter Handke, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Michel Tournier [...] Pascal Quignard and Christa Wolf -- all of whom have either not been translated into English or were once upon a time translated but have since been allowed to fall out of print".
Sure, NYRB Classics has just brought out Intizar Husain's Basti; sure, I have my ancient copy of Ananthamurthy's (or, as that Oxford University Press edition has it, Anantha Murthy's) Samskara, but seriously folks, have you tried finding English-language editions of their work ?
Even NDiaye's Among family.
I have, and it ain't easy.
(As opposed to Handke or Wolf, for example -- both in print and in used bookstores.)
So, "Generally available" in English .....
- the criteria was apparently 'at least three works available in English', but even then some of these look very, very thin (in terms of body-of-work available (and especially readily available ...) in English) -- though that said, I do like the international spread on offer
- the official site has okay biographical blurbs but doesn't even provide something as basic as bibliographical (at least available-in-English) information -- pathetic
In his report in The Guardian Richard Lea reports:
Parks was also relaxed about the challenge of comparing bodies of work that are so various, saying that the judges only considered authors who have published at least three works of fiction in English.
"You get enough of an idea from three novels," he said. "Three great books is a major achievement."
Three works of fiction is different from three novels -- and several authors seem to fall short of the three-novel mark: has Lydia Davis written three novels (The End of the Story is the only one I can think of) ? Josip Novakovich (April Fool's Day and ... ?) ?
And, as noted, some of the authors' (fictional) œuvre appear rather thin (yes, I have problems with Marilynne Robinson getting an author-prize for her limited fictional output).
What really shocked me, too, was the admission:
Tim Parks, said he was delighted with the list: "Ten wonderful authors, nine of whom I didn't know before I started reading for this prize.
There were lots of surprises for all of us."
Given how much Parks writes about international fiction I can't believe he (and all the judges) weren't already familiar with all these writers -- though I suppose it depends on what you mean with 'familiar'.
(For the sake of comparison: yes, I'm relatively well-read by most criteria (though I would have hoped Parks would easily have me beat [but I guess if you spend your time readingFifty Shades of Shit ...]), and the only author among these ten I'd say I'm not 'familiar' with is Novakovich -- and I've read some of his stories as well (though not in ages); all the others I've read books by -- and, indeed, have books of theirs essentially within arm's reach (including Anantha Murthy's Samskara, which I've been meaning to post a review of for ages [updated: and now have])).
I would have thought familiarity with these authors would have been a starting point -- rather than ignorance of nine out of ten
I also agree with Chad Post's post about the ridiculous tone the official press release takes, that "perhaps only two of the writers can be said to have a wide international profile":.
(Robinson has a wider international profile than Stamm, Yan, or Sorokin ?
In what universe, other than the Anglo-centric one ?)
Sure, they're probably right that: "Anyone who could have guessed even five of the 10 novelists who have just been revealed as the finalists for the fifth Man Booker International Prize deserves a mass cap-doffing from the wider reading public" -- since it's such a subjective exercise.
It's not a terrible list -- they're, by and large, fine authors -- but it's certainly not my kind of list -- not least because of a definite short-story bias (I'm a novel guy, through and through).
So who are the contenders ?
Well, it all depends on the judges.
If you're asking me: Robinson and Davis haven't written enough big fiction for my taste; Stamm is too much of a one-trick pony; Yan, Sorokin, and NDiaye are too limited, and Novakovich doesn't belong on the list.
Ananthamurthy remains a wild card -- I simply haven't seen enough of his work -- but otherwise I'd see it as a contest between Husain and Appelfeld.
Keret and Alfon's new cultural initiative is meant to change the way we relate to literature.
They are attempting to create a new artistic format to combine video, text, and audio, and transform the short story.
They hope that their effort will result in a dramatic transformation, much like the way the music video changed how we relate to music.
To which I can only say: god help us all.
What the hell is wrong with plain old written-word literature ?
What need for distracting (and limiting) bells and whistles ?
(I'm game for bells and whistles, but only if they expand on the story, not this kind of shit.)
The project is called Storyvid.io (again: god help us all) -- with the tagline: "when was the last time you've watched a story ? - Storyvid: launching Literature into the 21st century."
First of all, aren't they a bit late with the launch (surely we're well into the 21st century already ...) ?
Secondly: I don't want to watch stories -- I actually like reading them.
(And: if this the best they can do ... well, damn, that's weak.
But then again, I don't get comic books -- pardon me, 'graphic novels' -- either: they seem to me a simplification and limitation of the reading experience.)
The Jaipur Literature Festival, which starts today, has more than a fair share of heavyweight authors, controversies, media coverage and more than 100,000 visitors.
The one thing it lacks, surprisingly, is profitability.
In the last six years, the festival has seen 100% increase in attendance every year -- starting with 7,000 people in 2006 and 125,000 last year.
But the festival has so far been unable to generate enough revenue to cover its costs.
Profit is a bit much to expect, especially at open-door Jaipur, as:
Since its ethos lies in making itself accessible to as many people as possible, the festival is not ticketed and visitors are allowed free entry.
This leaves sponsorship as the only source of revenue and in India where supporting the arts is seen as a charitable decision and not an investment one, it has been struggling to get companies to come on board
Interestingly, aparently: "only aspect of literary festivals that is profitable is the bookstore in the venue" -- though with unpredictable successes and failures.
It warms my heart that the discerning Indian audience proved discerning:
And very often, their predictions of which books will sell go awry.
"Last year, we managed to get Oprah's authorized biography the morning she was here.
And despite the fact that thousands of people turned up to see her, no one bought her book," says Malhotra.
They've announced a new British literary prize, The Goldsmiths Prize -- meant to recognize: "Fiction at its most novel" (yeah, there's a great start ...):
The annual prize of £10,000 will go to a book that is genuinely novel, and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best.
It is limited to UK and Irish writers, and in addition the books must be published by a UK-based publisher, which rather limits the competition and the ambition of the prize; still, a fun idea, and with a judging panel consisting of Nicola Barker, Jonathan Derbyshire, Gabriel Josipovici, and Tim Parnell there should be a decent shortlist emerging here.
In the Global Times Lu Qianwen reports that Hong Kong is Small in area, large in literature.
Like Taiwanese literature, it's distinctive from mainland Chinese writing -- and apparently, for example:
"Compared to Taiwan literature, which is more influenced by traditional Chinese culture, HK literature is more influenced by British writing and more international," said Qiu Huadong, deputy chief editor of People's Literature, a leading literature magazine in China.
A creeping homogenization is developing in prose fiction, a kind of generic international content and style that transcends national borders.
Among the possible consequences:
But what if writers and readers no longer think that the surface of a literary text conceals layered depths that the translator must labor to transmit ?
What if translation is no longer thought of as an art but as piece-work ?
This isn't a new concern, of course.
For example, in his pieces at The New York Review of Books weblog Tim Parks has pointed to this phenomenon -- of an increasingly English-language (and especially American-culture) dominated world literature -- see, for example, his The Dull New Global Novel.
It's obviously a concern -- though I think there are still counteracting forces at work in many other languages/cultures.
Though of course often that isn't the stuff that gets translated into English .....
See also Chad Post's mention at Three Percent, Intriguing Questions about Translation and Culture.
Not only is the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography admirable for being a prize for ... bibliography (who doesn't love bibliography ?), they laudably make the list of the submitted books available for all to see -- even as they they're still soliciting submissions (you have until the end of April).
That's how transparently prizes should be run (yes, I'm looking at you, Man Booker Prize, (American) National Book Award, Pulitzers, etc. etc. ...).
As if this prize weren't already wonderful enough: yes, they won't consider books in translation -- but they do it one better and will consider the books in the original foreign language !
The RSS and BJP opposed the participation of seven Pakistani authors in the five-day festival that begins on January 24.
Muslim clerics, meanwhile, demanded that the four authors who read from Salman Rushdie’s controversial book Satanic Verses last year be banned from the event.
They've announced the longlist for STEFGPBSSA -- the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award --, a £30,000 short story prize.
The shortlist will be announced 24 February, the winner named on 22 March.
Once you've reached out so many people it's just pointless saying that my language is grammatically incorrect.
Even children like my writing.
Pointless indeed, apparently.
(I note also that, month in and month out, the three reviews of his books available at the complete review -- see, for example, One night @ the call center -- are among the most popular at the site.
(I'd review the others, too, but haven't been able to get my hands on them.))
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Kawabata Yasunari's Thousand Cranes.
I was surprised to learn that this was one of only two of Kawabata's works to be published in the US before he won the Nobel Prize in 1968 (the other was Snow Country).
(A collection of stories in translation, The Izu Dancer, was also published before then, but only in Japan.)