Pushkin Press' edition of Gerard Reve's The Evenings came out in the UK a couple of months ago, and is now -- today ! -- finally available in the US (so get your copy at at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or wherever you can).
In The Atlantic James Reith has a nice piece on Why It Took So Long to Translate a Dutch Classic -- which includes an interesting bit on Lydia Davis' (!) having had a go at translating it (which I had not known about).
They've announced the longlist for the Wellcome Book Prize -- awarded for books (fiction or non) that: "have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness".
Astonishingly, one of the longlisted titles is under review at the complete review (not surprisingly, the one translated work on the longlist ...): Maylis de Kerangal's Mend the Living (US title: The Heart).
Next to websites that change the URLs of their pages (curse them all), perhaps the most annoying thing I have to deal with in reporting literary news is (ever-)changing literary-prize names as sponsors abandon one after another.
The Americans are surprisingly stable -- Pulitzer ! National Book Award ! National Book Critics Circle awards ! -- but the British have the damnedest time holding onto sponsors -- and the days of simple augmentation (Booker to Man Booker) are long gone.
Today's sponsor drop: what used to be the Orange Prize is no longer named after whatever the latest sponsor was -- yes, they bailed on the prize -- and so this prize is looking for a new sponsor.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Boualem Sansal's 2084: The End of the World, out this week in English from Europa Editions.
With its Orwellian echoes and not-too-thinly-veiled criticism of Islam, this book got a lot of attention in Europe (and won the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française), and it'll be interesting to see how US/UK audiences take to it.
The Friedrich Ulfers Prize honors: "a leading publisher, writer, critic, translator, or scholar who has championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States", and they've announced that New Directions' Barbara Epler will get this year's prize, at this year's Festival Neue Literatur (theme: 'Queer as Volk', running 2 to 5 March); no word yet at the official site, but see, for example, the mention at Shelf Awareness.
There's an impressive list of previous winners, and Epler is certainly a deserving winner, too.
There are seven César Aira titles under review at the complete review (e.g. How I became a Nun) but as I've mentioned, I'm way behind on my coverage, as New Directions have been bringing out a nice, steady flow of his work the past few years (not quite keeping up with his amazing productivity, but still).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Viktor Shklovsky's The Hamburg Score, forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press.
Dalkey Archive Press has brought out quite a few Shklovsky titles, and it's great to see they're keeping them coming: also up this year is Life of a Bishop's Assistant; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
This story regularly pops up, but it's still fun being reminded of it, about why: 'The Gadfly, an English-language book barely known in the West became a sensation behind the Iron Curtain', as Benjamin Ramm chronicles in The Irish novel that seduced the USSR at the BBC.
That would be Ethel Voynich's 1897 novel, one of those books that was much more successful in translation than in the original.
(You can find it relatively easily on the internet, and Amazon offers any number of essentially self- (as opposed to, in this case, reputably) published editions for sale.)
For older takes on this, see The gadfly and the spy in The Spectator (1968), or The Russian Best-Seller: The Gadfly [mostly paywalled, I'm afraid] by Anne Fremantle in History Today (1975)
My review of Pierre Senges' Fragments of Lichtenberg has been up since the fall of 2015, but it apparently took a while for the finishing touches to be put on the English version -- but now it's finally truly available, as today is apparently the official publication day (and I have seen a finished copy and can confirm it exists -- and tell you that it looks mighty fine indeed).
With Senges' The Major Refutation also just out -- see the Contra Mundum publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- here's an author well worth checking out.
(I should be getting to The Major Refutation fairly soon, too.)
Oulipo-author Harry Mathews has passed away; see, for example, the mention at The Paris Review's blog (and at least it's good to hear that there's a "novel he just finished, The Solitary Twin"; I look forward to seeing that).
Obviously, I was a big fan, and quite a bit of his work is under review at the complete review:
At Parsagon they list the Top Ten Translations from Persian in 2016 -- and it's good to see that there are at least ten titles to select (though they're not necessarily circulating widely -- I haven't seen a one of these).
An interesting variety; I hope to get to some of them eventually.
(Meanwhile, see those Persian books under review at the complete review.)
A translator in medieval China complained of budget cuts for the work of translation: "In earlier days, a hundred translators worked together, in one large room, to translate a text.
This number is now reduced to forty."
The English translation of Gerard Reve's The Evenings finally came out in the UK a couple of months ago, and now it's ready to drop n the US (31 January, apparently) -- and it's good to see some preview coverage, as Nina Siegal reports in The New York Times that 'The Evenings,' a Dutch Classic, Arrives in English. It Only Took 70 Years.
The piece seems to have caused a nice bump in the Amazon pre-orders ('Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111 in Books', last I checked, hot damn), which is certainly good -- it deserves the attention and the readers.
However, the big question is that why we can't sell these precious pieces of literature properly.
With the growing influence of Internet and trend of social media, the habit of book-reading is simply vanishing, and these books have found a permanent place on footpaths only.
Hey, whatever works.
Though that accompanying picture is one sad image.
In Le Figaro they have their annual feature of the best-selling novelists -- not individual titles, but all an author's novels -- in France in 2016, in Mohammed Aissaoui's report Et les plus gros vendeurs de romans en 2016 sont ....
(I've reported on this in previous years but not last year, when the piece was (and remains) paywalled.)
A new twist this year: they don't restrict the list to French authors, as they have in previous years; surprisingly, the list is nevertheless not dominated by translated-from-the-English authors, with Anna Todd (an author I can not recall every having consciously heard of, though presumably I've seen stories about her success [updated: and will you look at that, a story about her success story just went up at the New York Post]) the best-ranked one, at third, and Harlan Coben coming in fifth.
Little surprise that Guillaume Musso came out tops -- by a mile -- as he has every year since 2011, but at least Elena Ferrante did come in ninth, a spot (and almost 15,000 copies sold) ahead of Mary Higgins Clark, while Stephen King only came in fourteenth (which was, at least, a spot ahead of Danielle Steel).
Runner-up to Musso was Michel Bussi (though with 1,135,300 copies sold, compared to Musso's 1,833,300, he was handily beaten); each has had a couple of titles translated into English.
I can't in good faith point you to any of Musso's titles, but, hey, Bussi's After the Crash just came out in paperback in the US, and Marilyn Stasio called it: "very, very French" in The New York Times Book Review ...; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jela Krečič's None Like Her.
This is one of the first in the first trio of books in Peter Owen's World Series-series, devoted to Slovenia (and published in association with Istros Books); the second trio is from Spain.
And not that it should matter in the least -- but, hey, anything to get more attention for a book, right ? --: Krečič's husband is one of the few Slovenians you may actually have heard of -- Slavoj Žižek.
At The New Yorker Alejandro Chacoff profiles A Cup of Rage-author Raduan Nassar, in Why Brazil's Greatest Writer Stopped Writing.
Great to hear from the man himself, and the (two) books are definitely significant ones, well worth reading (now that they are finally available in English ...) -- but 'Brazil's Greatest Writer' ?
That's quite a(n over)statement, or at least one open to some (I would suggest: a lot of) debate.
The 'Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival' is apparently underway, today through the 24th; there is an official "Facebook' page, but that appears to be about it (and, no, I won't link to that -- Facebook ? seriously ?).
In the Myanmar Times Nandar Aung previewed it, in Nobel Myanmar Literary Festival on the way -- noting that among the plans:
As part of the festival, organisers will collect the 100 most-read local books over the past 100 years and make a list for interested readers.
Count me interested; I hope they make it widely available (i.e. not just on the 'Facebook').
The archives -- of the Nobel Prize deliberations from fifty years earlier, the official waiting period -- were opened at the beginning of the year, and newspaper reports already provided most of this information (which I summarized for you more than two weeks ago), but now the official Nobel site has finally posted their overview, Candidates for the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature.
(The dateline on this is 4 January, but, strangely, it was not posted until yesterday.)
Nothing really new here, but a useful overview.
The 'Deutscher Krimi Preis' is all prestige, no cash, but with a solid, serious jury it is well-respected (and claims to be the oldest German mystery-book prize -- at a not very old 33 ...), and they've now announced the winners (and the two runners-up) in the two categories.
The best German mystery category was won by Die Mauer ('The Wall'), by Max Annas (see, for example, the Rowohlt publicity page).
Neither it, nor any other book by him -- or indeed the two runners-up -- appears to have been translated into English.
The international mystery category was won by a translation from the English -- indeed, the top three titles were all translated from the English, and two of them by the same translator (Peter Torberg) at that -- The Heavenly Table, by Donald Ray Pollock (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Books by Liza Cody and Garry Disher came in second and third.
The American University in Cairo Press launched their hoopoe-imprint last year, and among their first titles was Ibrahim Essa's The Televangelist.
I see now that a film version has come out -- listed as 'Mawlana' at IMDb -- the Arabic title, مولانا, transliterated.
But apparently it's being called 'The Preacher' in English, with AUC Press unable to make the film-book connection very clear -- a shame, given the (small, but still) advantages of movie tie-in PR.
So, for example, The Hollywood Reporter's (positive) review refers only to: "Issa's 2012 novel Mawlana/Our Master" -- spelling the author's last name differently than the publisher did, and providing a different English title (i.e. anyone asking for this in a US/UK bookstore is unlikely to be handed a copy of The Televangelist).
The review in Variety also spells the author's name differently, referring (only) to "journalist-novelist Ibrahim Eissa's bestselling book"; again, there's no way to make the leap from this to The Televangelist.
A shame -- a small but missed opportunity.
(This is the first I've heard of the film -- made aware of it through Hani Mustafa's less enthusiastic review in Al-Ahram Weekly (where the title of the novel is at least give as The Televangelist, even if the author's name is spelled: 'Ibrahim Eissa').)