The Siegfried Lenz Preis is pretty new -- this is only the second time they've handed out the well-endowed (at €50,000) prize, with Amos Oz picking up the inaugural one last year -- and it's not really clear how it is meant to stand out in the already fairly crowded international-author-prize field (beyond that the writing of the winner should, inter alia, be in the spirit of Lenz's work ...).
Anyway, they've now announced that Julian Barnes will get this year's prize (on 11 November -- this is a German prize; they announce the winners way beforehand ...)
This is one of those rare prizes where works are under review at the complete review not only by the winner (England, England and more than half a dozen more) but also by the author the award is named after (A Minute's Silence/Stella).
Nigerian author Elechi Amadi has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in Vanguard and Punch.
None of his work is under review at the complete review but he's significant enough that he rated a (very brief) mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
His work seems to have largely fallen out of fashion and print in the US/UK; The Concubine seems to be your best bet for a book to get your hands on; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced that this year's Georg-Büchner Prize -- the leading German author award -- will go to Marcel Beyer (on 5 November, since they always announce these things way in advance); see also the DeutscheWelle report, Top German literature prize goes to Marcel Beyer.
Several of his novel have been translated into English, but seem to have fallen out of print very quickly; The Karnau Tapes is probably the most intriguing/accessible of these; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk..
French science fiction author Maurice Dantec has passed away; see, for example, the Le Mondeobituary (where they note he was born in Grenoble, "dans une famille communiste").
His Babylon Babies had the distinction of being US-published by Semiotext(e) and was made into a movie by Mathieu Kassovitz -- starring ... well, Vin Diesel ... (yeah, so much for that ...).
They'll only announce their big ' Grand Prix du Roman' in the fall, but the Académie française has been busy with their award deliberations, and have now ... spewed forth their 'palmarès' -- no less than '65 distinctions'.
The full list is only available in the dreaded pdf format (because god forbid anyone should actually have ready, easy access to it ...), but, for example, Livres Hebdosummarize the big winners.
Okay, big(gest) winner Matsumura Takeshi -- who takes home €30,000 -- probably isn't a household name (despite being: "l'un des plus grands lexicographes du français"), but a few better-known names also were honored, including Michel del Castillo, Christian Bobin, and Bernard Noël.
And there's also lucky Jacques Lecomte, winner of the Grand Prix Moron.
(Hey, for €5,000, who wouldn't put that on their CV ?)
At Parade Ann Patchett and friends came up with a list of The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years.
The most significant limitation is buried in the explanation -- "we defaulted to books written in English" -- which certainly narrows things down (and makes the selection rather more uninteresting).
Oddly, however, a work in translation did sneak its way onto the list -- Elie Wiesel's Night, the English version of which hasn't just been translated once from the French (and there's a Yiddish pre-history to it too ...) but twice (as prominently noted on the new Hill and Wang edition; see their publicity page).
Not quite sure why it gets the special consideration .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Guenter Lewy on Book Censorship in Nazi Germany, in Harmful and Undesirable, just out from Oxford University Press.
Not really relevant to the book per se but certainly impressive: author Lewy was born in 1923, so pretty impressive that he's publishing something like this in 2016 -- and, sure, they're all his historian-buddies, but what a list of blurbers: Fritz Stern, Saul Friedlander, and Walter Laqueur.
David Jones' In Parenthesis is a truly great work (a rare "A" rated one at the complete review) but doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves; a new opera-version from the Welsh National Opera might help change that.
(Of course, considering the it premiered over a month ago and this is the first I'm hearing of it ... maybe not.)
You'll be able to watch it online at The Opera Platform starting next month (for six months) -- I'll definitely check it out.
In The Guardian Owen Sheers now has a nice piece on In Parenthesis: in praise of the Somme's forgotten poet.
They've announced the (South African) Sunday Times Literary Awards, and at the Books Live weblog Jennifer has the news: Hunger Eats a Man, by Nkosinathi Sithole, has won the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.
See also the Penguin Books South Africa publicity page for the book.
As longtime readers know, I've often lamented how little of Jia Pingwa's work has been translated into English.
Ruined City, in Howard Goldblatt's translation, did come out earlier this year -- albeit to far too little notice, so far -- but fortunately there's more coming soon -- and with The Jia Pingwa Project: Sample Translations of Four Novels that Nick Stember introduces at his site, there's good potential for even more.
Stember is doing a sample translation of one novel, and coördinating and editing sample translations and readers reports of three more -- with copies expected to be online by September.
One hopes they'll attract the interest that any writing by Jia should (i.e. a lot) and that he'll finally start getting the recognition he deserves abroad.
They've announced that Carolin Emcke will get the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade this year (officially, at the end of the Frankfurt Book Fair, on 23 October).
(Svetlana Alexievich won this on 2013, Orhan Pamuk in 2005, Susan Sontag in 2003, Chinua Achebe in 2002, etc.)
There was a time in her youth when she came to question this all-consuming investment; she wondered if to live for nothing else besides literature wasn't its own kind of idolatry.
"I thought it was wrong," she told me, at last raising her cup of long cold tea to her lips.
At this point, I don't think it's wrong.“
Her new collection (alas, *only* non-fiction), Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, is due out shortly; see the HMH publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In The Bookseller Katherine Cowdrey reports that Storytel buys Swedish publisher Norstedts for £12.5m and sure, there are a lot of local factors (Norstedts wasn't an independent, but rather a subsidiary of troubled Kooperativa Förbundet, who apparently were ... eager for the cash) but still ... venerable Norstedts ("Sweden's oldest publishing house, founded in 1823") sold to an outfit that: "är en digital abonnemangstjänst som strömmar ljudböcker till din mobiltelefon" ?!??
Yes, their turnover is higher than Norstedts' ... but, hell, I would have figured the prime real estate (that is one nice headquarters) alone would have been worth more than £12,500,000 .....
After a while when it looked like print was re-asserting itself over e-formats, this is some cold shower -- a sign of things to come ?
The Michel Houellebecq exhibit Rester vivant opens at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris tomorrow and certainly sounds ... interesting.
Fiachra Gibbons has a preview for AFP:
The show spread over 18 rooms of the Palais de Tokyo gallery reveals not just Houellebecq the accomplished photographer-poet and cynical social commentator, but Houellebecq the dog lover, maker of lesbian soft porn films and disappointed romantic in love with the landscapes of rural France.
And if that's not enough for you:
The show even includes a half-built red-brick reliquary for the writer's bones.
Hard to pass up, if you're in the neighborhood.
The show runs through 11 September.
Quite a few Houellebecq titles are under review at the complete review, including his most recent novel, Submission.
The University of Malta (or, as it is more appealingly called in Maltese, L-Università ta' Malta) has launched a 'Diploma in Maltese Literature' (meaning, apparently, that there previously was not the possibility to get a degree in Maltese Literature ...); apparently it's still something to only be studied under the cover of night, as it turns out it is An evening Diploma in Maltese Literature.
(I have no idea what the difference between 'daytime' and 'evening' diplomas might be ......)
At Malta Today Teodor Reljic has a Q & A with the head of the department responsible for the diploma.
Despite my conviction that Maltese literature is certainly deserving of greater study (and a wider readership), I am not sure I am reassured by statements such as:
In setting up this Diploma, we have simply followed upon this growing cultural and professional milieu, a move that has taken us well beyond the traditional scholastic approach to literature.
So my answer to your first question would be that this Diploma is viable because it lays claim to a domain of literary production and performance that is both vibrant and long-standing.
(The only translated-from-the-Maltese title under review at the complete review is Oliver Friggieri's Children Come by Ship.)