The worldwide PEN centres admirably work: "to promote literature and defend freedom of expression around the world", and their regional centres lead the local way -- unless they don't: as widely noted, things seem to have gone south in Putin-stained Russia; as, for example, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, Russia's PEN Center Fractures Over Creeping Kremlin Control, with notable writers including Boris Akunin, Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, and Vladimir Voinovich abandoning the Русский ПЕН-Центр.
In the openDemocracy piece by Anna Kachurovskaya, Writers against Russia's PEN-center several writers explain the situation and their stands.
Most PEN centres seem to be on considerably more secure footing -- for now.
Whether that lasts ... well, we can hope.
"The sales spree of Please Look after Mom in the U.S. did not spill over to other works," he said, adding that "Korean literature remains unappealing and peripheral at best to American readers."
I had felt miserable about the situation Korean literature faced before The Vegetarian's winning of the Man Booker Prize because despite the efforts made to export Korean literature overseas, its reputation did not increase.
But with The Vegetarian winning the award, I felt hopeful for the future of Korean literature.
It was an opportunity to introduce the value of Korean literature overseas
He also adds some interesting (disturbing ?) comments about the translation of the Han Kang novel:
Deborah Smith's translation boldly reduced, simplified or exaggerated meanings, hence creating or adding different feelings to the text.
"Smith added emotional adverbs in descriptions and amplified the emotional context by making something ordinary more special," he said.
It will be interesting to see whether or not there is The Vegetarian-trickle-down effect; as is, much of the other Korean fiction recently published in translation (and there has been quite a bit) hasn't gotten that much attention (or found that many readers, I fear).
See also the Korean literature under review at the complete review.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Miguel Anxo Fernández's A Niche for Marilyn, recently published by estimable Small Stations Press.
Anxo Fernández writes in Galician, and this 2002 novel was the first in his private detective series featuring Frank Soutelo; interestingly, he chose not to take advantage of local color/exoticism, and instead has Frank work in Raymond Chandler-territory, as the book is set in Los Angeles.
In The Guardian Richard Lea tackles the always interesting phenomenon of writers who catch on more abroad than in domestic markets, in Found in translation: the English-language writers who succeed abroad -- while admirably avoiding two of the most often-cited examples of this phenomenon, Jonathan Coe and Paul Auster.
Some interesting explanations on offer, including the effect of: "the different structures of the publishing industry in the UK and the US" -- which are dominated by a very few conglomerates -- compared to a more diverse publishing culture in continental Europe.
And then there's how Donna Leon sees it:
"I think Europeans read less crap," Leon says, "and most of [the crap] they read, they get from the US.
Since this is true about food and entertainment, why should it not be true about books ?
Europeans, especially Germans, read serious fiction, read it in great numbers, and it is common to hear people speak in social situations seriously and at length about literature."
They've announced the shortlist for the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, a prize: "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader".
Impressively, three of the five finalists are works in (actual) translation -- though none are under review at the complete review.
The winning title will be announced on 23 February.
They've announced the winner of the 2016 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it's Jonathan Wright, for his translation of The Bamboo Stalk, by Saud Alsanousi; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Admirably, this prize lists all: "The books that were entered for the 2016 Prize" -- something that every literary prize should do (otherwise you have no idea what is actually being considered).
There were "19 eligible entries" -- two poetry titles, the rest fiction.
Several of the books are under review at the complete review -- though not nearly as many as I'd like; I hope to get, and get to, a few more.
The titles under review are
I mentioned the initial fuss about Pablo Katchadjian's 2009 remix of a Jorge Luis Borges story when The Guardian first wrote about it, and now they have a follow-up, as Uki Goñi reports that the Case of 'fattened' Jorge Luis Borges story heads to court in Argentina.
The Borges-widow, María Kodama, is apparently intent on seeing this through (and don't forget that in the background lurks the estate agent, Andrew Wylie), and it will be interesting to see how the courts see this intellectual property case.
Meanwhile, Dalkey Archive Press just recently came out with a different Pablo Katchadjian title in translation, the not quite as fun What to Do; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Not many details available yet, but publisher Shinchosha has announced that a new, two-volume novel by Murakami Haruki, 騎士団長殺し, is due out on 24 February.
In the English-language press the title is variously presented as, among other things, 'Murder of the Knight Commander' (The Asahi Shimbun) and 'Killing Commendatore' (Kyodo); no word yet on a US/UK publication date (or title).