It was big new a few weeks ago when word came that, as for example Publishers Weekly reported, Andrew Wylie Merges Agency With Carmen Balcells, as leading international 'literary' agent Andrew Wylie (The Wylie Agency) joined forces with dominant Spanish-market figure Carmen Balcells -- promising, as El País put it, una nueva superagencia literaria, Balcells & Wylie.
(Apparently all is forgiven for Wylie's ... 'poaching', let's call it, of Roberto Bolaño (or at least his estate -- Wylie sure knows how to handle those widows (see also the ultimate widow, María Kodama, another Wylie client ...) from Balcells a couple of years back.)
(I'm not sure how much to read into the fact that Carmen Balcells Agencia Literaria S.A. does not appear to have had any real public web-presence, the Wylie agency's is about as basic as it gets, and there does not yet appear to be any 'Balcells & Wylie' web-presence.
So much for the internet age ......)
In The New York Times today Rachel Donadio reports on the merger in her profile of Balcells, After Years of Solitude, Spanish Literary Champion Takes Partner.
This hook-up certainly bolsters Wylie's estate-heavy list -- much easier to deal with than living authors, presumably.
They've announced the shortlists for the 2014 PEN Literary Awards (with the winners to be announced 30 July).
Not many books from many categories under review at the complete review, but David Colmer's translation of Hugo Claus' Even Now -- in the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation category -- is.
The PEN Translation Prize category finds three New York Review Books among the finalists (well done !) -- but only Yale University Press' edition of Jeffrey Gray's translation of Rodrigo Rey Rosa's The African Shore -- a Best Translated Book finalist -- is under review.
The Encore Award is a nice idea -- "The Encore Award literary prize celebrates the achievement of outstanding second novels" -- and they've announced that this year the £10,000 prize goes to All the Birds, Singing, Evie Wyld's second.
Get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In the Boston Review Leland de la Durantaye looks at the recent Yale University Press edition of C.K.Scott Moncrieff's translation of Proust's Swann's Way, annotated by William C. Carter, in Style Over Substance.
See also the Yale University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Based on current numbers acquired from Nielsen BookScan, the publishing industry's not-quite-reliable point-of-sale database, sales for The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair in the U.S. (including e-books) look to be around thirteen thousand -- not great, especially considering the enormous run.
I agree with Gregory that the novel is written for European sensibilities -- especially re. America -- and that's not what Americans are looking for:
The French, Dicker seems to think, are too French for themselves; meanwhile, Americans can't get enough of Frenchness.
A French writer trying to be more American just doesn't export well.
And she pegs the book pretty well, noting it's (dubious) readability:
That said, I read the thing -- which is heftier than a suburban county phone book -- in two days.
Not that I could answer many questions about its mechanics now, or even just hours after putting it down.
It's the sort of novel you recommend to a grieving friend or coworker out on jury duty -- somebody with temporarily disabled critical faculties trying to forget who or where they are.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of William McIlvanney's 1977 Laidlaw, re-issued in the UK last year by Canongate, and now out in a new US edition from Europa Editions.
Not sure I'd go as far as Laura Wilson did in The Guardian -- "If you only read one crime novel this year, this should be it" -- but, yeah, this is the real deal.
Over the weekend they announced the winner of this year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize ("for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language") -- and Susan Wicks won for her translation of Valérie Rouzeauís Talking Vrouz.
See also the Arc publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Lizok's Bookshelf of course reported on the announcement of the finalists for Russia's (horribly titled but prestigious and remunerative) Большая книга ('Big Book') prize when it was made, more than two weeks ago; Russia Beyond the Headlines now follow up, as Georgy Manaev reports on the shortlist, in The Russian novel returns: Solovki prison, the defense industry, and an agronomist called Gogol.
(But there's apparently a lot of time left until they choose a winning title .....)
Svetlana Alexievich -- author of Voices from Chernobyl -- was, you might recall, very considered to be very much in the Nobel Prize-mix last year, and her shortlisted book has been racking up the prizes and critical praise throughout Europe; amazingly, her agent's site lists it being published in four countries, with rights sold in another ten, but nothing doing yet in the English-speaking world.
How is this possible ?
Vladimir Sorokin also has a book on the shortlist, as do Zakhar Prilepin and Vladimir Sharov (whose Before and During Dedalus recently brought out (see their publicity page) and which I look forward to getting to soon).
A pretty interesting selection of books.
Okay, the last time -- the only other time -- a Michel Déon title was published in English translation, back in 1989, The New York Times Book Reviewtook notice too; still, neat to see that The Foundling Boy (which I haven't seen yet !) gets the full Diane Johnson-treatment in yesterday's issue.
(I noted a couple of years back that it's amazing how under-appreciated (and -translated) he is in the US; I'm still not sure that official site (where his name loses the accent ...) is the ticket .....)
I was also amused by Johnson's observation:
The Foundling Boy may win new readers for books translated from French, of which too few are published.
Agreed -- but I note also that, as Chad Post recently noted in providing the preliminary 2014 numbers on new-translations-into-English(-in-the-US) at the Three Percent database, translations from the French crush the competition -- 93 counted, versus 50 for runner up from-the-German, and 48 from Spanish .....
So, yeah, much too little translated from the French is published -- but that ain't nothing compared to some (many ... most ... all) other languages.
(Translations from the languages of India, anyone ?
From the Thai ?
I'm looking forward to seeing the Déon, which is out in Julian Evans' translation from Gallic Books; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Premio Gregor von Rezzori, a leading Italian prize for the best translated work of fiction -- won last year by the just-announced winner of this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award ... -- has been announced;
not at the official site, last I checked (because ... of course ...) but the papers have it as Naissance d'un pont by Maylis de Kerangal beating out Tom McCarthy's C, Georgi Gospodinov's forthcoming-from-Open-Letter Physics of Sorrow, and something by Dave Eggers, among others.
Naissance d'un pont -- which also picked up two big French prizes, the prix Médicis and the prix Franz Hessel -- is actually due out in English this fall from Talonbooks, as Birth of a Bridge; see also the Verticales publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Commonwealth prizes used to feature book-length entries but have now been sadly reduced to a story award, fine for what it is, no doubt, but still considerably less substantial than the much-missed novel and first-novel prizes of yore.
They've now announced the winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Letís Tell This Story Properly, by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.
She's had a good past year or so -- her novel, The Kintu Sagawon the Kwani ? Manuscript Project.
The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, a €25,000 award for "a collection of short stories published for the first time, in English anywhere in the world" (translations are eligible) admirably reveals its longlist of submitted/eligible titles (as every literary prize should !) -- and now they've announced their six-title shortlist.
Translations did not fare well -- none made the cut -- and none of the finalists are under review at the complete review.
Melville House has just brought out Mariusz Szczygieł's Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and at English PEN they now have an excerpt from a similar collection by Szczygieł, Playing Vietnamese, 'on the strange case of a Vietnamese literary prodigy in the Czech Republic who proved that fact is stranger than fiction'.
Of course, readers of the Literary Saloon are already familiar with this unusual case, since I mentioned it on these pages over four years ago .....
The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two Jerry Pinto titles:
His prize-winning (The Hindu Literary Prize, 2012; the Crossword Book Award, 2013) Em and the Big Hoom, now also available in the UK and US
His study of Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb
Helen who ? you ask.
Well, Merchant-Ivory devoted a documentary to her -- Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls -- and in The Caravan Manil Suri admits he: 'had always wanted to dance like Helen', in My Life As A Cabaret Dancer, so .....
Em and the Big Hoom, on the other hand, is fiction -- the US edition coming with blurbs by Booker-winners Salman Rushdie and Kiran Desai, and a review by Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times finding: "There may not be such a thing as a perfect book, yet Jerry Pinto comes heartbreakingly close", so .....
(Interestingly, in the UK this just came out in hardback; the US publisher went with the paperback original format.)
How many more Noble Prizes for Literature could China be winning if only their writers could get more international audiences through translation ?
Sic, and sigh .....
Though good for Olivia Milburn for pointing out:
As for Nobel Prizes waiting to be won, Milburn finds the fixation "deeply disturbing, and probably as damaging for Chinese literature as the quest for Best Foreign Film has been to large sections of the Chinese film industry."
Milburn mentions another trend where well known Chinese novels have been translated into English and appear in abridged versions, a process she calls "horrifying".
She cited Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem and Jin Yong's The Deer and the Cauldron as two recent examples.
"If these book were available translated into English in full with an extra abridged version, that would be one thing," she argued.
"But the decision to simply publish short versions is (in my opinion) shocking.
If the publishers of these translations thought that the historical details were too difficult for English readers, they should have arranged to translate a different type of book."
The idea of an 'extra' (i.e. separate) abridged version is, of course, fantastical; still, the problem of such shameful large-scale editorial interference is one that is far too little mentioned and discussed, with publishers generally fairly reluctant to even admit to what is, sadly, a widespread practice.
At the Global Market Forum and elsewhere at Book Expo America a couple of weeks ago it was good to see quite a bit of translation-related activity -- a whole day of panels, and then on BEA-floor itself a 'Translation Market' ghetto corner, with its very own stage devoted to translation-related presentations.
I got to enjoy some of these, and it was quite interesting; embarrassingly, I couldn't be bothered didn't write up any of the events at the time -- but fortunately at Publishing Perspectives Saskia Vogel now offers a look at the several of the panels I did attend, in Yawn No More: Americans and the Market for Foreign Fiction, giving a solid overview of many of the main participants and points.
(That (and everything else) said, I still think it's way too early to suggest the yawning is over .....)
Meanwhile, at Russia Beyond the Headlines Anna Sergeeva and Georgy Manaev offer a Book Expo America Review: Bringing unsung Russian authors into the light, as they: 'asked publishers and translators to share their impressions of Russiaís participation at BEA'.
Evgenia Peretz's article in Vanity Fair, It's Tartt -- But Is It Art ? -- using Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel as a case-study, as: "the polarized responses to The Goldfinch lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide ?" -- has been much discussed and commented upon already (now even rating a mention at Time, for example).
I mention it because -- well, you can find a lot of links to a lot of those reviews at the complete review review-page; it's enjoyably absurd; and it gets lots of great/absurd quotes, from Jonathan Galassi helpfully weighing in (no bother that he: "hasn't yet read The Goldfinch" ...) to Lev Grossman suggesting:
A critic like [James] Wood -- whom I admire probably as much or more than any other book reviewer working -- doesn't have the critical language you need to praise a book like The Goldfinch.
The kinds of things that the book does particularly well donít lend themselves to literary analysis ....
What makes Peretzís article worth discussing is its near-perfect embodiment of a widespread and pernicious attitude: She consistently treats other peopleís views as self-evidently the product of bad faith.
(Sidenote: Evgenia Peretz is the daughter of the former owner and editor in chief of The New Republic, Marty.)
The FIFA World Cup Brazil™ begins tomorrow, and lasts until 13 July -- a month that will keep football ("soccer") fans busy and presumably less-focused on literary matters.
Nevertheless, some sites do make an effort to make a connection.
Yes, all sorts of football-related books are being published (I'll pass, for now, thanks), but other online distractions include:
At Scottish Booktrust Danny Scott offers A Booklover's Guide to World Cup 2014, matching the competing nations/teams with "great books in translation from each of the countries competing at Brazil 2014" (they're not all fiction -- and they're not all translations)
More ambitiously, Three Percent has launched a World Cup of Literature, pitting books (fiction) from each competing country against each other, following the group format from the actual World Cup (albeit not having everyone 'play' everyone in each group).
They apparently did make an effort: "in some quasi-logical way, to tie each book to its countryís actual team" -- though I'm looking forward to hearing some of those explanations: flyweight Australia is represented by heavyweight Barley Patch by Gerald Murnane, one of the great works of fiction in English of the past decade (surely a Tim Winton title should have gotten the call), way too many countries are represented by dead authors, and some choices seem just cruel
(South Korea is represented by a novel whose main character is a sleeper-spy from North Korea (what are they suggesting ?); Belgium by a novel featuring a hell of a lot of alcoholic excess (and titled The Misfortunates ?!??); Ivory Coast by a novel -- very good though it is -- about child soldiers ? what the hell is the subtext there ?)
At the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy weblog Eben Shapiro has a Q & A with Jill Schoolman -- founder of Archipelago Books, which is currently enjoying some success with those Karl Ove Knausgaard books (admirably getting on board with Karl Ove already with A Time for Everything before taking the My Struggle-plunge).
A decent number of Archipelago titles are under review at the complete review -- but this is definitely one of those publishers I can't get enough of.
Good stuff (and some fine recommendations from Jill in the Q & A).