The -- now IMPAC-less (they pulled their sponsorship) -- International Dublin Literary Award, the €100,000 prize which has "libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world" ("in 118 cities and 44 countries", this time around) nominate novels: "first published in English between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014" (and, if translated, "first published in a language other than English between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2014"), has now announced the 160 nominated titles for the 2016 prize.
Almost a third -- 53 titles -- are translations, from an impressive 19 languages.
And yet the nominations also expose the weakness of the system: yes, there are translations from the Georgian (White Lama, by Merab Ratishvili; see the prize page) which you can't even find on Amazon.co.uk (and which was of course nominated by a Georgian library), and from the Malay (two, even -- both, unsurprisingly nominated by the National Library of Malaysia, but, hey at least The Michelangelo Code (seriously ? this is what they nominate ?) is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk), and the Serbian (three, even -- but, of course, all nominated by the Serbian and Montenegrin nominating libraries ...).
But translations from the Arabic ?
Translations from the Chinese ?
Translations from the Korean ?
Translations from the Japanese ?
Hey ! One.
Yes, unsurprisingly these languages are those of countries not well-represented among the nominating libraries (though there is a Chinese library -- which admirably did not go all ridiculously nationalist, as so many other libraries did, and chose not to nominate a Chinese title).
Still, this has been a problem with the prize for many, many years and you would have thought they would have tried to do something about it by now.
So the 160 titles are, as usual, a very , very mixed bag -- I'm shocked by some of the nominated titles, but there's certainly some decent stuff here, too.
There are also some conspicuous absences, including titles by Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Twenty of the titles (and 17 of the 53 translations) are under review at the complete review:
Not many of these I'd really like to see take the prize, but it's good that deserving books that didn't get enough attention when they came out -- notably the Verhulst and the Echenoz -- might get a bit more notice, or that the Coovadia might now attract some US/UK publisher ....
The shortlist -- "up to a maximum of ten titles" -- will be announced 12 April 2016, and the winner will be announced on 9 June.
The Swiss Book Prize -- which should be the Swiss German Book Prize, since it is for a German-language Swiss book -- has announced its 2015 winner, and it is Eins im Andern, by Monique Schwitter; see also the (English) author information-page at publisher Droschl.
One of her earlier titles, Goldfish Memory, is actually available in English -- Parthian Books admirably brought it our earlier this year; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I published my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy a year ago, and at the time expressed the ambition (and hope and expectation) that I would sell fifty copies in the first year; amazingly, the book has sold exactly fifty copies in that time (28 print copies and 22 e-editions).
I also predicted that if/when John E. Woods' translation of Zettel's Traum (Bottom's Dream) comes out I would shift another hundred copies; I wonder how close to that mark I will be.
The great Peter Weiss would have turned ninety-nine today.
Playwright (Marat/Sade, etc.), novelist (The Aesthetics of Resistance, etc.), painter, he's faded quite a bit from view.
Sure, his plays are still occasionally revived -- they're playing The Investigation at Cleveland's Cesear's Forum right now -- and, for example, Melville House recently brought his Leavetaking back into print, but on the whole he -- meaning, specifically: his work -- doesn't get near as much attention as he still deserves (and over a decade on they still haven't managed to get around to publishing translations of the second and third volumes of The Aesthetics of Resistance ...).
I published my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) a year ago -- indeed, as it turns out, Amazon lists the publication date as 8 November.
So this is also the first anniversary of that undertaking, falling exactly to the day a year before the Weiss-centennial -- and I'm wondering whether I should take that as a sign that I should prepare something Weiss-related for next year's celebrations .....
I'm not a huge fan of biography, and the Schmidt-book isn't really that -- Schmidt was such a book-person that any work about him naturally focuses almost entirely on his books (the ones he wrote and read (and translated)).
Still, the only two people I have ever seriously considered writing biographies of are Peter Weiss and Paul Feyerabend (because both their personal and intellectual/creative life-stories are interesting, and because their writings -- across the board -- have been among the most influential on me), and I must say I am tempted -- certainly to do something in Weiss' honor, and specifically to do something ... bigger.
(There isn't much Weiss-biography out there; aside from Jochen Vogt's slim rororo monograph (1987) -- a useful overview, but never meant to be much more -- Jens-Fietje Dwars' Und dennoch Hoffnung (2007) seems to have been the only attempt so far.)
Well, I'll think it over .....
The Finlandia-palkinto is the leading Finnish literary prize (and pays €30,000 to the winner) and, as Yle reports, Seasoned novelists contend for 2015 Finlandia Literary Prize.
Among the finalists is previous winner Kari Hotakainen -- I believe the only one who has has a work translated into English (The Human Part); I still don't understand why more of his work (including his previous Finlandia-winning title) hasn't been translated into English yet.
Another finalist is Markku Pääskynen, with Sielut; I am not entirely reassured by the promise that: "Despite the bleak theme the novel isn't entirely steeped in despair" (only mostly ?).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Spiró György's big, impressive historical novel, Captivity, just out from Restless Books.
Spiró is in the US promoting the book, and I hope it finds the audience (and critical response) it deserves -- certainly one of this year's major translations.
And Spiró is clearly an author who deserves some US/UK attention: he is perhaps even better known as a playwright -- his Helló, dr. Mengele ! was named play-of-the-year in Hungary recently -- and several of his plays have been translated in English collections, but he's clearly a talented novelist as well.
Another day, another French literary prize: yesterday they announced the winners of the prix Médicis -- a threefer (fiction, non, and translated fiction).
Goncourt-finalist Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice, by Nathalie Azoulai took the fiction prize (six votes to three), and certainly sounds intriguing.
It's also always interesting to see what foreign fiction is prized abroad: the Femina, announced on Wednesday, went to Thirst, by Kerry Hudson, narrowly (6-5) beating out Martin Amis' The Zone of Interest, but the Médicis wasn't nearly as Anglophone: the French translation of Turkish author Hakan Günday's Daha took the prize -- with little English-language competition from the remaining finalistes; see also the Galaade publicity page.
Günday has seemed an up-and-coming (on the international scene) Turkish author for a while now; I'm surprised ther haven't been any US/UK translations yet.
(Well, you know, relatively surprised .....)
See also this Time Out (Istanbul)Q & A with him.
At Slate Katy Waldman has a Q & A with Philip Pullman, as it's the twentieth anniversary of his Northern Lights (published in the US as The Golden Compass), the first in his His Dark Materials-trilogy.
The Spanish Ministry of Culture awards the Premio Cervantes, the most prestigious Spanish(-language) author prize; they also award a Premio Nacional de Letras Españolas -- a national Spanish career-prize, honouring a Spanish national (but not necessarily Spanish-language-writing) author, and they've announced that (mainly) Catalan-writing Majorcan author Carme Riera has taken the €40,000 2015 prize.
The prize has a solid list of previous winners.
The big-two French literary prizes were announced on Tuesday -- see my previous mention -- but that still leaves a second tier of prizes to name their winners, with the Femina next up: they've announced their fiction, non, and translated fiction awards.
La Cache, by Christophe Boltanski, took the fiction prize, while Kerry Hudson's Thirst narrowly (6-5) beat out Martin Amis' The Zone of Interest.
The two biggest annual French literary prizes were announced yesterday, with Boussole (by Mathias Enard) winning the prix Goncourt, and D'après une histoire vraie (by Delphine de Vigan -- in her fifth try at the prize) winning the prix Renaudot.
The Goncourt is sort of France's 'book of the year'-award, of similar above-all-the-others-standing as the Man Booker Prize -- but comes with a small asterisk, as authors can only win the prize once (theoretically -- Romain Gary proved otherwise, but it's unlikely to happen again), so many of the best books of the year aren't even considered for the prize (and so, for example, Michel Houellebecq's Submission wasn't even eligible for consideration for this year's prize, since he's already won it).
See also the Actes Sud publicity page for Boussole; Open Letter (US) and Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK) have brought out previous titles of his; several of Vigan's titles are also available in English.
They've announced that The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (by Susan Pedersen) has won the US$75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature.
See also the Oxford University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced that the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction goes to Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman.
(The UK edition is subtitled The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently; in the US -- where the title is printed as NeuroTribes -- they go with: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.)
See the publicity pages at Allen & Unwin and Avery, or get your copy at or Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The prize pays out £20,000.
They've announced this year's winners of the Daesan Literary Awards -- "the largest set of literary prizes at present given in Korea", with category-winners collecting ₩50,000,000 (just over $44,000; see also Rumy Doo's report in The Korea Herald, Mah, Hwang win Daesan literary awards.
Hwang Jung-eun's 계속해보겠습니다 ('Let Me Continue'; see also the Changbi publicity page) took the fiction prize -- "a story of persistence through life's hardships for one's loved ones".
The German translation of Jung Young-moon's Vaseline-Buddha (see the Droschl publicity page) won for best translation; that title isn't available in English yet, but Deep Vellum is bringing it out next summer -- pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Meanwhile, a collection his stories, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, is available in Dalkey Archive Press' Library of Korean Literature series; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gene Kritsky's book on Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt, The Tears of Re, just out from Oxford University Press.
This is the second bee-related title I've reviewed in little over a year -- and the previous one, Mark L. Winston's Bee Time, just won the Canadian non-fiction (English-language category) Governor General's Literary Award.
Disappointingly, only a smattering of his works are readily available in modern editions -- but at least Pushkin Press has a few, including a just recently discovered one, Late Fame, just out in the UK; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; I haven't seen a copy yet, but hope to get my hands on the German original soon.
English PEN has announced their translation-supporting grants, four 'PEN Promotes' grants (which presumably pay for some promotion) and sixteen 'PEN Translates' grants (with Human Acts by Han Kang doubling up (or down), getting both).
Some big names in the translation-grant category, including Lydie Salvayre's prix Goncourt winner, while the most intriguing title is Khomeiny, Sade and Me (though, sadly, it appears this is a non-fiction title -- see translator Charlotte Coombe's overview).
A lot of good things to look forward to, in any case.
As longtime readers know, I am a great admirer of the great Harry Mulisch, so the announcement of the publication of a previously unpublished work of his is big news around here.
De ontdekking van Moskou ('The discovery of Moscow') -- see the De Bezige Bij publicity page -- is an old effort that they 've dug up.
Whether they should have is, of course, a different question: in his review in de Volkskrant Arjan Peters outright calls it 'een onleesbare roman' ('an unreadable novel'), and even in a more favorably inclined review in Het Parool Arie Storm admits that there are parts that are 'eigenlijk gewoon niet zo goed' ('really just not very good').
Far too little of his work has been published in English -- yes, quite a bit, but far from enough -- but, yeah, maybe this isn't the first one that publishers should turn to if they're thinking of bringing more of it out in the US/UK.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nakamura Fuminori's The Gun, coming in January from Soho Crime.
This is the fourth Nakamura under review at the complete review -- and of particular interest, because it was his (2003) debut.
Definitely a raw effort, but already all the Nakamura-markings -- and there's no doubt that he's among the most interesting crime-writers (in the broadest sense of the term) being translated from the Japanese at this time.