Oxford cleverly has contenders compete for its Professor of Poetry position -- every five years, nowadays -- making for a lot of press coverage and public debate; it makes you wonder why universities don't do this with more positions.
(Also impressive: that there's pretty bitter competition for this post -- which pays all of: "£12,000 per annum plus £40 for each Creweian Oration" .....)
They've now announced the results of the voting (yes, alumni vote for the winner !) for Geoffrey Hill's successor and as, for example, Alison Flood reports in The Guardian, Simon Armitage wins Oxford professor of poetry election -- his 1,221 beating out Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka (920) and A.E.Stallings (918).
Zon Pann Pwint reports in The Myanmar Times that 'critics agree that finding a good Myanmar writer of science fiction is pretty much a hunt for The Invisible Man', in Ray guns and robots a light-year too far for Myanmar writers.
The problem doesn't so much seem to be finding a good writer of science fiction as finding any: it doesn't seem to go beyond a bit of dabbling here and there.
English PEN have announced the latest set of 'PEN Translates award' winners; see the full list at PEN Translates spells more support for independent publishers (as they've now upped the turnover threshold, making some larger publishers also eligible); the award is in the form of a grant to help cover translation costs.
Lots of familiar names here -- hey, a new Daniel Pennac ! Yuri Herrera ! Juan Pablo Villalobos ! -- but the obvious standout is Rafael Chirbes On the Edge, which was very widely hailed when it came out in Spain; see the Anagrama foreign rights page.
Also of note: Clemens Meyer's In the Rock -- I've read the German (but haven't managed to write a review yet), and it is an impressive work (but probably also a pretty hard sell); see the S.Fischer foreign rights page.
Jean Vautrin (who also worked under his real name, Jean Herman) won the prix Goncourt (1989) and, aside from his fiction -- especially his thrillers -- was also a successful film director (hey, Farewell, Friend (1968) co-starred Alain Delon and Charles Bronson; The Sunday of Life is based on the Raymond Queneau novel).
Not accomplishment enough for the English-speaking media (even the news agencies ...) to note his passing, apparently.
But he dead; see, for example, the report in Libération.
The Voice of the People is apparently the only one of his books to make it into English; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Surprising -- and those thrillers might be worth another look for some enterprising US/UK publisher .....
Not really a surprising conclusion, but always good to see some awareness and discussion, as IANS reports Translations boosts reach for regional literature.
And I appreciate the translators' ... forthrightness, even if it sends slightly mixed message:
One almost always fails but must try.
Otherwise it means giving in to parochialism and particularism in a world that is in desperate need of more understanding.
And, sadly, there are also the usual complaints:
The translators, however, lamented at their works not being recognised on a larger scale in the Indian book scene.
The translators were also upset with their efforts not being adequately marketed.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Suzanne Leblanc's The Thought House of Philippa, just out in English from BookThug.
This novel is inspired/framed by the Wittgenstein house; among the surprisingly popular books (as measured by how many people purchase it via the Amazon links) at this site is (or was .... it's now sadly out of print) Bernhard Leitner's beautiful The Wittgenstein House, so I'm curious to see whether this will also attract much interest.
The Prémio Camões is the biggest Portuguese-language author prize (like the Premio Cervantes for Spanish-writing authors), and they've announced that Hélia Correia has won this year's €100,000 prize; see, for example, the report in Público.
Apparently none of her work has been translated into English yet .....
They've announced that Harvest, by Jim Crace, has won this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (also worth €100,000).
The only Crace title under review at the complete review is Six (published in the US as Genesis); get your copy of Harvest at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
'Guest of Honour'-status at the Frankfurt Book Fair is usually a pretty big deal and, at the least, means a flood of books in translation from the country at the center of things (think Turkey, South Korea, and Iceland, in recent years).
This year's guest of honour is Indonesia, and we already knew Netherland/Flanders was set for 2016 and Georgia for 2018.
Now finally the 2017 gap has been filled too, with the announcement that: Frankfurt to host La Grande Nation.
That would be France, apparently of course.
And while French literature may not seem to need the additional spotlight as much as some of these other countries -- translations from the French continue to lead the way of all languages into English --, forcing them to strut their stuff on the international stage might well be invigorating.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a new translation (by Marie-Thérèse Noiset) of Jules Verne's The Self-Propelled Island, just out from the University of Nebraska Press.
This was long overdue: as Arthur B. Evans noted back in 1992, when someone published the very old version yet again:
To summarize, a revised and more accurate English translation of Verne's L'Ile à hélice would have been genuinely welcome and would have done honor to any publisher.
In contrast, this book brings shame: it represents a commercialized resurrection of a translator's travesty, and it aptly demonstrates how an industry's profit motive can sometimes overpower its sense of literary integrity.
The University of Nebraska Press has now stepped up -- but Noiset isn't entirely true to the Verneian spirit either in her translation, admitting in her Translator's Note: "the narration has been translated into the past tense" (while Verne wrote it in the present tense).
You can sort of understand the reasons for the shift -- and yet .....
(Personally, I think there's a lot to be said for the feel of greater immediacy the present tense gives (or would give) this story .....)
Wikipedia is apparently a very popular online resource -- and a fairly extensive one ("4,893,476 articles in English" alone, at last count (more by the time you check, no doubt ...)).
Over the years, there have been many attempts -- or stories about attempts -- to publish print editions of Wikipedia:
- A "printed work could be ready from mid-2006", founder Jimmy Wales suggested back in 2005 (apparently the idea was to make it: "available in print for readers in the developing world" ...).
- In 2008 Bertelsmann recognized that printing the whole damn thing was maybe not: "a good project for the German book trade", but they were considering a best-of encyclopaedia: "made up of 50,000 of the most-searched terms on the German language edition of Wikipedia" (without explaining how they expected to fit 50,000 articles in one volume of 992 pages ...)
I have not printed out all of the books for this exhibition, nor do I personally have any intention of doing so -- unless someone paid the $500,000 to fabricate a full set.
There are 106 volumes in the exhibition
Harry Rowohlt, one of Germany's most renowned -- and visible, though for other reasons -- translators has passed away; see, for example, the report at DeutscheWelle.
He translated a lot -- most famously, Winnie-the-Pooh, but also: many books by Flann O'Brien, Padgett Powell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ken Bruen, among others, as well as odds and ends by everyone from Ian McEwan to Donald Barthelme and Susan Sontag.
They've announced that James Fenton will receive this year's PEN Pinter Prize (on 6 October).
His writing -- even beyond his fine poetry -- is certainly of interest; see also, for example, his Q & A with The Paris Review.
They've announced that The Ten Thousand Things, by John Spurling, has won this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (for novels: "set at least 60 years ago", and, sigh, written in English); see, for example, the BBC report.
It beat out novels by Martin Amis, Kamila Shamsie, and Damon Galgut, among others -- some pretty solid competition.
See the Overlook publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
At ChinaDaily Xu Jing reports that a 'Golden age' dawns for Chinese web-writers as Chinese Internet literature apparently continues to flourish.
I particularly like the categorization of writers ("into five levels by their income and number of fans"): poor guy, low rank god, middle class god, super god, and platinum/Supreme God writers -- at the top level apparently the title is even capitalized (well, at least in translation: it doesn't really work that way in Chinese).
The big question -- and I'm surprised this isn't asked much more frequently and widely -- is: why China, and why not elsewhere ?
I recently got a copy of Michel Hockx' Internet Literature in China (see the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and expect to get to it soon.
It is certainly an interesting (and under-explored) phenomenon.
I've lost count of how often I've said it, but if your measure of success is nabbing a Nobel, you're doing it wrong.
Alas, it remains seen as national validation -- and, even worse, folks have it all wrong.
The latest example ?
Our literature has moved toward generalization, and there are very few young poets and writers who pay attention to daily issues.
If this trend continues, we will tend to the popular literature and will lose our chance of winning the Nobel Literature for Iran in other years, too.
Sure, translation is key -- but Iran is actually not too badly served internationally, and it would be hard to believe that Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (The Colonel, etc.) and Shahrnush Parsipur (Women without Men) aren't in the Nobel-running more often than not.
(Pro-tip, if Iran wants more general literary international recognition: join the conventions ! (the copyright ones, Berne and UCC ... come on, guys, just do it ...).
And stop with the censorship nonsense.)
(As to the Nobel, I remind you -- and them: it's not just you -- the Dutch haven't ever won one either.)
They've announced the winner of this year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and it is ... this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize-winning translation by Susan Bernofsky of Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days; see the publicity pages at New Directions and Portobello, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(This title not making the Best Translated Book Award longlist this year is increasingly looking like quite the oversight .....)
They've announced the longlists for the FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards, including in the fiction category; among the ten selected titles are: Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga and The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud.
The 'Emerging' part of the award doesn't refer to the artists or their work, but rather to their nationalities, as it is limited to "passport holders of emerging nations".
The list of nominees was impressive, too -- though I do wonder about 'Anonymous (Casey B Dolan)' .....
The finalists will be announced 7 August, the winners on 5 October.
At Grantland Michael Weinreb has a profile of Michael Crichton, with a focus on his becoming a writer and the early pseudonymous work (like Drug of Choice).
I wonder why there hasn't been a proper biography yet -- a lot of material there.
German science fiction author Wolfgang Jeschke has passed away; see, for example, the (German) notice in Die Welt.
The rare German science fiction author actually published in English translation -- The Cusanus Game ! -- he was named 'Best Author' at the European Science Fiction Society Awards just last year.
They've announced the shortlist for the 2015 Europese Literatuurprijs, the Dutch best translated (European) book award, with a good-looking list that includes Rafael Chirbes' On the Shore (due out in English early next year; see also the Anagrama foreign rights page), Mikhail Shishkin's (or, Dutch style: Sjisjkin's) Maidenhair, as well as books by Jenny Erpenbeck, António Lobo Antunes, and Yasmina Reza.
They had the first vote to winnow down the Premio Strega to five finalist (and they will, surely, eventually be posting the results here ...).
Elena Ferrante's The Story of the Lost Child -- forthcoming from Europa editions; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- made the cut, but was only the third-highest vote-getter, with 140, considerably behind top vote-getter La ferocia by Nicola Lagioia; see the Books in Italy information page for some English-language information.
The second vote, for the winner, will be held 2 July.
They've announced that Leonardo Padura Fuentes will receive this year's (now) Princess of Asturias Award for Literature (it used to be 'prince' but they made that guy king, so now its under the auspices of the 'princess').
They award these in a variety of categories including sport (the Gasol brothers taking the prize this year), but the literary prize has a decent track record (though 2011 -- Leonard Cohen -- was a bit iffy ...) -- and they have given it to Augusto Monterroso (2000), Álvaro Mutis (1999), and Miguel Delibes (1982), among many other worthies, so, yeah, okay.
Quite a few Padura works are under review at the complete review: