The Festival Neue Literatur, presenting: "New Writing from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S." (with two author each) runs 22 to 24 February in New York city.
Things start off tomorrow already, as Carol Brown Janeway will be honored with the first Friedrich Ulfers Prize, awarded: "for exemplary work in the promotion of German-language literature in the U.S.".
Given her work both as an editor/publisher and translator, she certainly seems a deserving winner.
They've announced the 15 schönsten Bücher Österreichs 2012 -- the fifteen most beautiful Austrian books, 2012; click on the picture and then on the titles to see the fifteen winning titles.
They were selected from 224 submissions.
Female Royals are "persons but they are supra-personal, carriers of a blood line: at the most basic, they are breeding stock, collections of organs."
And one has to appreciate this comparison:
The author compared the Royals to pandas.
"Our current royal family doesn't have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment.
"But aren't they interesting ?
Aren't they nice to look at ?
Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it's still a cage."
I am all for releasing them into the wild, de-titled and de-loused .....
(Updated): And you can read (or listen to !) Mantel's entire lecture, Royal Bodies, here.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andrea Hirata's Indonesian bestseller, The Rainbow Troops.
This 2005 novel has actually been available in English for quite a while -- just not very readily available (i.e. hardly at all outside the South East Asian area).
But Farrar, Straus & Giroux picked up the American rights and now it is readily available -- though it will be a tall order for English-language sales to equal Indonesian ones.
This is the biggest big-publisher translation-from-the-Indonesian to get published in the US since the works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and it'll be interesting to see how it does (and whether it does well enough for them to commit to the next volumes in the tetralogy).
I do remind you that the estimable Modern Library of Indonesia from Lontar makes quite a few other works of Indonesian literature available (several are under review at the complete review, and I'm slowly making my way through more).
In The Guardian they have Ian McEwan: when faith in fiction falters -- and how it is restored (also sold to and made available at The New Republic, where it's more succinctly titled: When I Stop Believing in Fiction).
The comparison to religious belief makes me uneasy -- fiction and the fiction that is religion are two entirely different things, as is 'belief' in them -- and I'm always amazed that anyone (much less a fiction-writer) could harbor the slightest doubt about the primacy and validity of fiction, but it's good to see that, after toying a bit with his readers, McEwan does acknowledge it as "the one true faith".
During a publicity meeting we attended with one of the largest papers in the UK, we were told that it's the books by British and US authors they were interested in, not books in translation.
The level of ignorance and unjustified fear among book reviewers towards literature and non-fiction in translation is staggering.
By comparison, bloggers are far more welcoming and open to accepting books in translation for reviews or features.
Hesperus Press that had the lucky foresight to acquire it.
Lucky because the success of THYOM, which has sold close to £1.5m through the tills since its publication in July, helped Hesperus see a 900% rise in sales in 2012.
I'm not a huge fan of the book, but, hey, if it subsidizes their other good work, I'm all for it .....
The closing date for entries is 1st October 2013 and any work of more than 2000 words written or published during the previous 12 months is eligible.
Entries must be original or translations into Cornish.
Wikipedia has Cornish at 3,500 total speakers, so your odds look pretty good.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Didier Daeninckx's A Very Profitable War, now out in the US from Melville House.
I think it's great that they've brought this out -- but Daeninckx is a prolific author, and it would be great if some of his more recent stuff (he's written dozens of books since this 1984 (!) novel) got translated .....
I mentioned the turmoil at leading German literary publishing house Suhrkamp a couple of months ago, and the case came to court of Wednesday.
The verdict ?
A continuance, until September -- just the kind of non-resolution this case doesn't need.
At DeutscheWelle Sonya Angelica Diehn and Petra Lambeck summarize things, in Legal battle threatens cultural institution.
I don't think they're quite right -- though this is the way it's being portrayed in the German press, too -- when they claim:
The conflict, on some level, boils down to whether book publishing as a cultural institution can survive in today's market-driven economy.
Unfortunately, under the ... leadership of Ulla Unseld-Berkéwicz, Suhrkamp isn't quite the Suhrkamp of old (of Peter Suhrkamp and Siegfried Unseld), the exodus of authors and editors over the past decade (and an oddly handled move from longtime headquarters in Frankfurt to Berlin) hollowing out the hallowed institution.
Nevertheless, Barlach is seen as the bad guy here by authors and cultural commentators alike, in what seems to boil down to a choice between bad and worse.
For some German reports about the recent court (non-)decision, see, for example, Nichts ist vorbei am Aschermittwoch by Sandra Kegel in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Gericht vertagt Entscheidung über Suhrkamp-Verlag in Die Zeit.
Legal scholar and philosopher Ronald Dworkin has passed away; see, for example, Godfrey Hodgson's obituary in The Guardian, and see some of his pieces at The New York Review of Books, for which he often wrote.
The only Dworkin title under review at the complete review is Is Democracy Possible Here ? -- though I should be getting to Justice for Hedgehogs eventually.
(Some two decades ago -- in the pre-Internet age -- I wrote to him, disagreeing with the arguments in one of his books; I appreciated that he took the time to reply (thoughtfully).)
They've announced the 2013 Caine Prize judging panel -- and, at the same time, also revealed that:
This year 96 qualifying stories have been submitted to the judges from 16 African countries.
While restricted to stories (of between ca. 3000 and 10,000 words) published in English, they do accept stories in translation -- and so it's a bit disappointing that there were only entries from 16 countries (I remind you that Wikipedia reports there are "54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries")" in Africa ...).
In the past 20 years or so, we only had two kind of poems: the traditional kind and the modern kind. Now we have a lot poems written in new styles and new forms. ... We have prose poems, conceptual; our current poetry scene is very vibrant and diverse.
The Hatchet Job of the Year Award -- awarded for: "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months" -- has been announced (though not at the official site, last I checked); see, for example, Alison Flood's report in The Guardian, Hatchet Job of the Year goes to assault on Rachel Cusk.
You can read Camilla Long's winning review of Rachel Cusk's Aftermath -- originally published in the Sunday Times -- here.
Literature in Indian languages is vibrant, thriving and more interlinked than is evident, say literary figures.
Interesting also that some are willing to go this far:
Like the case of Benyamin, a popular writer settled in Bahrain, who said at a session that if his books in Malayalam sold thousands of copies, why should he bother about getting them published in English.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ajneya (Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan's) 1961 Hindi novel, To Each his Stranger.
I recently bought this, used (for $6.00) -- and was a bit shocked to find a personal dedication in it, Ajneya having signed the book for another author (whose name I recognized, too).
I know people have to cull their book collections (I know I should ...), but to deaccession a work with a personal dedication .....
(Also: surely they could have done better, too -- if I picked it up for $6.00, I'd be surprised it they got $1.00 for it, and it is a first edition (of the revised 1982 second edition) in good condition (and, as noted, signed) -- surely worth something (more) to someone.)
Nationalism rears its always ugly head again, as Azerbaijani author Əkrəm Əylisli (Akram Aylisli) published a novel -- Daş yuxular ('Stone Dreams') -- that some locals have taken (great) offense to because they think he's way too soft on/forgiving of their favorite neighborhood and historical arch-enemy/convenient whipping-boy, Armenia.
Published in Russian translation -- read it for yourself -- in Дружба народов (yes, 'Friendship of the People'-magazine ...) in December, the ugliness has been stirred up for a while now, and now has begun to come to a boil.
At this point, Əylisli has been deprived -- by presidential decree ! -- of his honorary title of People's Writer of Azerbaijan ("as a person, staining this title") and the writer's pension he's been getting from the government since 2002 has been cancelled.
Əylisli's son, a customs official, has apparently been 'asked' to resign.
A production of one of Əylisli's plays has been cancelled.
A parliamentarian has suggested stripping him of his citizenship.
And now they've started burning his novels in protest.
(Yeah, it's always a great sign -- constructive dialogue in its purest form ! -- when they start with the book-bonfires .....)
Oh, yes: and it's been reported that a ... generous offer has been made by Hafiz Hajiyev: 10,000 AZN to anyone who would cut off Akram Aylisli's ear.
Hafiz who ?
Apparently he's the head of the: "pro-government party Modern Musavat" .....
(And, no, he apparently hasn't been arrested or charged for his illegal-even-in-Azerbaijan offer.)
At Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Daisy Sindelar offers a good overview, noting that In Azerbaijan, Anger At An Author, But Not Necessarily At His Argument
In CRS, at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting Maharram Zeynalov also has a good overview, in Azerbaijani Writer Accused Over "Disloyal" Novel -- with hair-raising observations such as that his wife has also been fired from her job:
"They sacked my wife in a very strange way -- they accused her of having books by Armenian authors in her library.
Where else should they have been ?
And anyway, they were talking about books that weren't by Armenian authors," he said.
For an example of the official 'arguments' contra Daş yuxular, see, for example, the head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Social and Political Department Ali Hasanov's remarks, asking vital questions such as:
How can one flatter other people and slander his own people to present himself as the bearer of human values ?
There's been limited international outrage about this to date, but that can't last long (I hope).
When I was translating Kinkakuji (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion as it is known in the West), I had at hand the English translation -- very meticulous, authorized by Mishima himself.
Everything was impeccably correct -- and yet still something was amiss.
You see, Mishima is not a clever author, most of his ideas about life and society would leave you uninterested.
Neither is he an especially gifted builder of plots.
The story isn't his forte. With Mishima, the nuances are more important than the ideas he advances; Shade means so much more than Light.
But his narration is so elegant, his style so powerful, that it makes up for the banalities and showing-off.
There is plenty of shallowness in Mishima's works, but strangely it only increases the impression of genuineness and beauty.
It turns into a melody that I can always hear when I am reading Mishima.
In the English translation this melody was silent.
(For those of you keeping track, that's Ivan Morris who fell flat -- and I note that in his 1959 review of the translation in The New York Times Book Review Donald Keene seems to go out of his way not to address questions of the quality of the translation (not least by completely ignoring Morris' contribution -- but noting: "A fine introduction by Nancy Wilson Ross adds much to an American's enjoyment of the book" .....))
Japanese consumers still seem dead set against adopting e-books, showing less interest in them than even the print-worshipping French
Given that Japan is the country where the ケータイ小説 -- the cell-phone novel -- first took off, it doesn't seem like the issue is e-reading per se: they appear more than happy to read certain kinds of texts on certain kinds of electronic devices.
Indeed, maybe the success of cell-phone novels -- which pre-date dedicated e-readers and the explosion of e-books in the US and elsewhere -- is one of the reasons development has followed a different arc in Japan.
Fitzpatrick also suggests:
Japan has also been slow in getting the machinery of Japanese e-books whirring.
There are just 40,000 titles available in most digital bookstores.
"Publishers are indifferent to, or even hate, digital things.
Mainly because of excessive commitment to traditional print book distribution," explains Mr. Kamata.
But surely one of the great and amazing things about e-books is that the format allows writers (and readers) to circumvent traditional (i.e. hide- (and paper-)bound) publishing -- consider just the explosion of available-in-electronic-form texts in China, Viet Nam, the Arabic world, and elsewhere.
I.e., I think it's a bit more complicated .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's Journal d'Hirondelle.
I'm trying to fill in the gaps in the Nothomb-coverage at the complete review; this is the fifteenth of her works under review, but I still have a few more to get to.
In The Philippine Star Butch Dalisay writes about being At the literary table at this year's Taboan -- the Philippine Literary Festival.
Among much else, he notes:
Small as it is, Philippine literary society is indeed ruled in a way by cliques, barkadas, orthodoxies, and prescriptions.
In some cases, these institutions and conventions may have made it difficult for new, alternative, and dissident voices to emerge and be heard.
I myself will indefensibly admit to being part of this ruling elite -- I suppose by default, being the director of an institute of creative writing, a professor of literature, and a member of an NCCA committee that gives out grants.
I’ve done well by the system (Silliman workshop, CW degree and MFA, Palancas, etc.) and the system, I think, has also done well by me.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Murray Bail's The Voyage.
First published in Australia last year, it is now out in the UK too, from MacLehose Press -- and is due out in French translation, from Actes Sud, in April.
As to a US publication date -- or even publisher -- I haven't heard of any.
I would have thought that Bail deserved better -- and he's not entirely unknown in the US, after all.
And this is a book about which, for example, Peter Craven wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: "We won't see a finer piece of fiction in the longest while."