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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 29 February 2016

21 February: Tsushima Yuko (1947-2016) | Hoopoe (at AUC Press)
22 February: Cré na Cille x 2 | The Yid review
23 February: Festival Neue Literatur | Kasseler Literaturpreis für grotesken Humor | The Blue Room review
24 February: L.A. Times Book Prize finalists | French Voices Awards
25 February: Publishing in ... Cuba | Korean literature abroad | Portraits of Wittgenstein | How to Talk About Places You've Never Been review
26 February: New issue of World Literature Today | Chinese literature abroad | Diagram Prize finalists | Mona Lisa review
27 February: Hungarian literature in ... China | Hanna Dyâb profile | Friedrich Ulfers Prize
28 February: Turkish literature in translation | Karl Dedecius (1921-2016) | The Televangelist review
29 February: Caine Prize for African Writing entries | 'Book Platform'

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29 February 2016 - Monday

Caine Prize for African Writing entries | 'Book Platform'

       Caine Prize for African Writing entries

       The Caine Prize for African Writing, the leading continental short story prize, has announced a Record breaking number of entries for 2016 Prize -- 166 short stories from writers representing 23 African countries (compared to 153 stories form 17 countries last year).
       Caine Prize Director Dr. Lizzy Attree notes:
We are also excited to see an increase in the number of countries represented among the work submitted. Alongside nations with long histories of representation in both our shortlist and the roll call of winners, countries, like Ethiopia, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gambia
       Stories have to be available in English, but can be translations -- but I fear relatively few are (and also that the entries are predominately sub-Saharan African). Still, good to hear they've been able to attract authors from additional countries.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       'Book Platform'

       A lot of national/regional books sites are helpful in providing information about local literatures -- see, for example, the Dutch Foundation for Literature -- but they can be hard to sustain (see the now archive-only Books from Finland).
       Covering a region that is very under-represented -- book- and information-wise -- in English, Book Platform ('Your gateway to book culture in Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine' -- a perfect piss-off-the-Russians-trifecta collective) looked pretty promising, but was apparently a limited-term project: a Final Conference on Self-Evaluation and Sustainability seems to have closed the book on it in 2014; too bad.
       There are national sites covering some of these territories -- see, for example, the Georgian National Book Center --, but there's something to be said for the more comprehensive regional approach, too.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

28 February 2016 - Sunday

Turkish literature in translation | Karl Dedecius (1921-2016)
The Televangelist review

       Turkish literature in translation

       Via Bruce Humes' Ethnic ChinaLit I'm pointed to the Hürriyet Daily News report that Turkish books available in dozens of languages, reporting on the success of the Translation and Publication Grant Program of Turkey (TEDA) program.
       Interesting also to see the actual numbers -- the Graph for TEDA Supports by Languages, as well as the table of Works Subsidized According to Countries. (Obviously, some Turkish works also do get translated without TEDA subsidies -- but likely very few slip through the subsidy-net.)
       Not surprising that translations into German lead the way (258); quite surprising that Bulgarian is a close number two (251 titles); unsurprising -- if disappointing -- that Albanian and Arabic also (easily) beat out English (103).
       See also the Index of Turkish literature under review at the complete review.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Karl Dedecius (1921-2016)

       Leading German translator-from-the-Polish Karl Dedecius has passed away; see, for example, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung obituary by Marta Kijowska.
       They named a translator prize after him, and he translated many of the Polish greats -- and wrote some fine literary essays himself, including a volume Vom Übersetzen (from Suhrkamp, but apparently now out of print; get your copy at Certainly one of the most important figures in spreading the Polish word, especially into German.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Televangelist review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ibrahim Essa's International Prize for Arabic Fiction-shortlisted (in 2013) novel, The Televangelist, one of the first volumes in the American University in Cairo Press' new Hoopoe imprint.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

27 February 2016 - Saturday

Hungarian literature in ... China | Hanna Dyâb profile | Friedrich Ulfers Prize

       Hungarian literature in ... China

       At hlo they have a nice profile of Yu Zemin: the Chinese voice of Hungarian literature.
       Translating Nádas Péter' Parallel Stories -- the first volume of which was named best translated book in 2015 in Taiwan -- as well as authors such as Nádas, Kertész Imre, Esterházy Péter, Krasznahorkai, and Márai Sándor ... well, he's introducing some fine stuff to Chinese readers.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Hanna Dyâb profile

       Hanna Dyâb's D'Alep à Paris is out from Actes Sud (see their publicity page) and in Al-Ahram Weekly David Tresilian profiles this co-translator of the Thousand and One Nights, in The author of the Nights ?
       Some interesting background into the Antoine Galland-translation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Friedrich Ulfers Prize

       Translator Burton Pike picked up this year's Friedrich Ulfers Prize at the opening ceremony of the Festival Neue Literatur on Thursday, and at Publishing Perspectives they now print his acceptance speech, Burton Pike on the 'Rhythm' of Translation, as well as Shelley Frisch's laudatio.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

26 February 2016 - Friday

New issue of World Literature Today | Chinese literature abroad
Diagram Prize finalists | Mona Lisa review

       New issue of World Literature Today

       The March/April issue of World Literature Today is now available online -- with a focus on 'International Comics'.
       Of particular interest, of course: the regular WLT Book Reviews section -- which also features reviews of many comics-books this time around.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Chinese literature abroad

       At Shanghai Daily Yao Minji reports that Chinese literature gets the cold shoulder abroad, as: "Chinese novels seem to have trouble attracting Western readers".
       The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin: "has sold over 110,000 English-translated copies since it was published in the US in November 2014" -- but:
It's a rare success story in a global market where Chinese authors are unknown, and even in cases where their books are translated, readership interest is wan.
       Good to see the focus of the piece is not entirely on the English-language market, noting, fore example, that: "Even Mo Yan is not selling so well in Germany".
       And interesting to hear:
She noted that there are about 50 different prizes and scholarships for translators who turn English texts into German, but not a single one for Chinese translation.
       The piece also concludes with a longer Q & A with Dave Haysom of Paper Republic.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Diagram Prize finalists

       At The Bookseller Natasha Onwuemezi reports they've announced the seven finalists, as: Diagram Prize: Oddest Book Titles of the Year battle it out.
       Yes, titles such as Too Naked for the Nazis (see the publisher's publicity page) and Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy (see the review in the invaluable Bryn Mawr Classical Review) ... but, alas, none yet under review at the complete review.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Mona Lisa review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alexander Lernet-Holenia's small art-(semi-)historical tale about Leonardo's Mona Lisa, out in a nice little edition from Pushkin Press.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

25 February 2016 - Thursday

Publishing in ... Cuba | Korean literature abroad | Portraits of Wittgenstein
How to Talk About Places You've Never Been review

       Publishing in ... Cuba

       At DeutscheWelle Holger Heimann reports on How Cuban bookworms are benefitting from political openness.
       Progress is still slow going for now -- as, amazingly, for example:
Often it is the most elementary thing that is lacking: There simply is not enough paper.
       But apparently (though I'd really like to see some hard(er) data on this ...):
Nowhere else in Latin America and the Caribbean do people read as many books as they do here -- despite the fact that they are not widely available.
       I'm curious as to what will happen in a more open market.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Korean literature abroad

       In The Korea Times Kim Ji-soo reports that K-literature: ready, set, go -- with Han Kang (The Vegetarian, etc.) the latest local author whose books are supposedly: "gaining traction in the British and North American literature market".
       The piece heads in a typical direction:
Another undeniable aspect of the resurgent interest via Han's novels is that it amps up the anticipation that a Korean author will earn more global recognition including the Nobel Prize for literature.
       Still, good that there's domestic enthusiasm -- success abroad seen as a bright spot: "against the general decline in Korean literature domestically after controversies over plagiarism and drops in readership" -- and it's certainly good to see that there's a decent flow of books-in-translation currently making it into English -- let's hope that continues.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Portraits of Wittgenstein

       A revised and updated edition of Portraits of Wittgenstein (eds. Ian Ground, F.A. Flowers III) recently came out from Bloomsbury, and it looks like quite the impressive two-volume set (so also the price: US$430.00/£250.00) -- and in the Times Literary Supplement Tim Crane reviews it (and/or discusses Wittgenstein, at considerable length)-- suggesting:
It is a wonderful project -- endlessly fascinating for philosophers, but it will also appeal to anyone with the most casual interest in twentieth-century intellectual history. This is the work everyone who is interested in Wittgenstein the man needs.
       I have to say, I am intrigued (and apparently I need it -- you, too, presumably ...).
       See also the Bloomsbury publicity page, and get your copy at or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       How to Talk About Places You've Never Been review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pierre Bayard On the Importance of Armchair Travel, in How to Talk About Places You've Never Been.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

24 February 2016 - Wednesday

L.A. Times Book Prize finalists | French Voices Awards

       L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the L.A. Times Book Prizes, in ten categories.
       Two of the fiction finalists are under review at the complete review: The Story of My Teeth (by Valeria Luiselli) and The Beautiful Bureaucrat (by Helen Phillips).
       The winners will be announced 9 April.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       French Voices Awards

       Thirteen books were selected for the French Voices Awards, and they've now announced the Grand Prize-winner too, which will be awarded 29 February
       The Grand Prize goes to The Lights of Pointe-Noire, by Alain Mabanckou, in Helen Stevenson's translation. This already came out in the UK last year (from Serpent's Tail; see their publicity page, or get your copy at, and is due out soon in the US from The New Press (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at
       Several Mabanckou titles are under review at the complete review (Broken Glass, etc.), and I'm looking forward to seeing this one as well.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

23 February 2016 - Tuesday

Festival Neue Literatur | Kasseler Literaturpreis für grotesken Humor
The Blue Room review

       Festival Neue Literatur

       The Festival Neue Literatur -- "New Writing from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S" -- runs 25 through 28 February this year in New York City.
       This year's theme is: 'Seriously Funny', and the festival is curated by Ross Benjamin.
       With events such as There's Something About Translation ... -- with Daniel Kehlmann, Natasha Wimmer, Álvaro Enrigue, and Ann Goldstein -- ... definitely worth your while.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Kasseler Literaturpreis für grotesken Humor

       Wolf Haas (The Weather Fifteen Years Ago, and the Brenner novels that Melville House has published in translation) has picked up this year's Kassel literary prize for grotesque humor (whose prvious winners include Trobadora Beatrice-author Irmtraud Morgner).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Blue Room review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's The Blue Room, in a new translation by Linda Coverdale.
       (It was also made into a movie released in 2014, directed by Mathieu Amalric.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

22 February 2016 - Monday

Cré na Cille x 2 | The Yid review

       Cré na Cille x 2

       Last year Yale University Press, in their wonderful Margellos World Republic of Letters-series, brought out a translation of Máirtín Ó Cadhain's 1949 Irish novel, Cré na Cille, in Alan Titley's translation, as The Dirty Dust.
       This year they're publishing the same book, in Liam Mac Con Iomaire and Tim Robinson's translation, as Graveyard Clay; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or
       It's fairly rare for a previously untranslated work to be offered in two different translations in such quick succession -- and especially by the same publisher. (Yale University Press did offer Witold Gombrowicz's Trans-Atlantyk in Carolyn French and Nina Karsov's translation, and then again, more recently, 'An Alternate Translation' by Danuta Borchardt (see their publicity page), but waited quite a few more years between versions that time around.)
       I just got my copy of Graveyard Clay and am curious as to how it compares. In his Introductory Note, Liam Mac Con Iomaire notes that there have been other (unpublished) translations, too, including Joan Trodden Keefe's ("available for circulation in university libraries on microfiche but has not been in general circulation"). As to Titley's, he writes:
Initial enthusiasm regarding access to the narrative may ultimately be tempered by a more guarded analysis of the translation's "free-wheeling" nature in general and a markedly creative interpretation of the text's "rich and savage demotic base" in particular.
       I'm looking forward to comparing the translations. I'm also curious whether the appearance of Graveyard Clay will affect how The Dirty Dust is judged in this year's Best Translated Book Award. (As a re-translation, Graveyard Clay will not be eligible for the award next year -- but The Dirty Dust is this time around. Will the judges compare it to the Graveyard Clay-version (and possibly find it wanting) ? I would have thought it a longlist shoo-in before the appearance of Graveyard Clay; now, maybe not so much .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Yid review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Paul Goldberg's new novel, The Yid, which has been getting a fair amount of attention.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

21 February 2016 - Sunday

Tsushima Yuko (1947-2016) | Hoopoe (at AUC Press)

       Tsushima Yuko (1947-2016)

       As, for example, The Japan Times reports, Lung cancer claims author Yuko Tsushima, daughter of Osamu Dazai, at 68.
       Quite a few of her works have been translated into English -- though most as now out of print Kodansha paperbacks (I have a few of these ...). But you can probably get The Shooting Gallery (see the New Directions publicity page, and get your copy at or or Laughing Wolf (see the Center for Japanese Studies publicity page, and get your copy at or
       Foumiko Kometani begins her review of The Shooting Gallery in The New York Times Book Review: "Yuko Tsushima is one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation".
       And Tsushima's own words, in the Chicago Tribune, are recommended.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Hoopoe (at AUC Press)

       Covering a fair amount of Arabic fiction at the complete review, it's no surprise that I often turn to titles from the wonderful American University in Cairo Press -- more than 70 of their books are currently under review at the site. They're wonderful books -- and generally nicely produced, too, even if their paperbacks are a bit heavy-duty in production-value, compared to US/UK norms.
       Now it looks like they're going for something a bit more commercial: Look Out For The Hoopoe, they've announced, with the first titles in their new paperback imprint due out shortly; see also the report in The Bookseller. (I just got copies of the first titles, and they look great.)
       (The official website isn't quite there yet, last I checked, but presumably will go live shortly.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

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