They handed out the 2016 Icelandic Literature Prizes on Wednesday, with The Greenhouse-author Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir winning the fiction prize, for Ör; see, for example, the Benedikt publicity page.
See also the Félag íslenskra bókaútgefenda press release, which includes the other shortlisted titles, as well as Vala Hafstað's report in Icelandic Review, Icelandic Literary Awards Presented.
The winners each receive ISK 1 million -- though that's only the equivalent of US$8,800.
They've announced the longlist for the 2017 International Dylan Thomas Prize, "Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under" (so maybe 'English-language' (rather than 'International') Dylan Thomas Prize would be more appropriate ...).
The twelve-title strong longlist consists of: "six novels, four short story collections, and two volumes of poetry".
None of the titles are under review at the complete review at this time.
The shortlist will be announced "at the end of March", and the winner on 10 May.
On the one hand: yay, translation ! on the other: you have to wonder about a report on a national literary award headlined: Turkish translation of Shahnameh wins Iran's Book of the Year Award, as the Tehran Times has it, slightly misleadingly, in covering one of the major Iranian literary awards (President Hassan Rouhani was there, so, yeah, it's a pretty big deal).
There are, of course, many category winners, of which this translation was one -- it's not like it was the winner.
But it's interesting to see how this is highlighted.
And only way down the line do they mention what won novel of the year -- surely one of the major categories.
And that does get two (short paragraphs); still, it certainly feels ... relegated, despite being (yet another ...) novel set "during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war" (they also usually have a more dramatic name for that conflict).
But the novel-winner seems worth noting: the prize went to Mohammad Reza Bayrami, for his لم یزرع ('Barren'; see also the publisher's publicity page).
Sound familiar ?
It should: I mentioned it winning a prestigious Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award just over a month ago, and that's a pretty impressive double.
Maybe an author -- and book -- worth looking out for ?
It's not like he's entirely unknown unpublished in English: Mazda have brought out two volumes, The Tales of Sabalan (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and The Eagles of Hill 60 (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
And he's apparently represented by Gazelle International, if publishers are interested .....
Книжная Капелла, newly opened in St. Petersburg, is certainly an ...impressive-looking private library, a cathedral (of some sorts) of books.
It's also one that charges an entrance fee: 'Стоимость разового посещения — 7 000 рублей'.
Yes, 7,000 rubles for a single (four-hour) visit -- that's almost US$120.
Sure, cheaper than a visit to the local bordello, but right up there with a first-rate meal.
(By comparison, an annual Апостола Книги-card is a bargain 230,000 rubles -- not even US$4,000.)
There are corporate packages available too !
Yes, it's run by a publishing house (Альфарет), for whom it's apparently also a showroom (they specialize in: "reprints and facsimiles of Russian and international masterpieces"), but still, you have to wonder about the business model here.
(While it's kind of fun to imagine they mean and do all this for the love of books -- and believe that there are actually readers out there willing (and able ...) to pay for the privilege --, I'm afraid there's a distinct whiff of something rather different to this set-up.)
See also Alexandra Guzeva's report at RBTH, 5 million for a book: Russia's most expensive library opens in Petersburg.
Tzvetan Todorov has passed away; see, for example, Sewell Chan's obituary in The New York Times.
None of his work is under review at the complete review yet, but The Conquest of America (get your copy at Amazon.com) certainly impressed me, back in the day.
And maybe The Inner Enemies of Democracy is something to look at now ? (See the Polity publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
For a time he was also half of one of the more impressive literary/intellectual power-couples, married to novelist Nancy Huston (Fault Lines, etc.).
They've announced the longlist for the 2017 Stella Prize -- the A$50,000 "literary award that celebrates Australian women's writing".
I haven't seen any of these, and most don't seem to have been published in the US yet; one hopes this will help bring them to the attention of publishers (and readers) abroad as well.
The shortlist will be announced 8 March, the winner on 18 April.
They've announced the 2017 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants -- for 15 projects, in 13 different languages, each one subsidized to the tune of US$3,870.
Quite a few of these don't have publishers yet, but one hopes this will help a few more find their way into print -- certainly some interesting-sounding stuff.
Among the works of greatest interest to me: Ithaca Forever by Luigi Malerba (tr. Douglas Grant Heise), There's a Carnival Today by Indra Bahadur Rai (tr. Manjushree Thapa), and Felix Austria by Sophia Andrukhovych (tr. Vitaly Chernetsky) -- which I told you more than a year ago: "looks like the sort of thing that might eventually get translated into English"; see also the book's official site.
Recall also that this fund was founded by Michael Henry Heim and Priscilla Heim -- and that you can read more about the translator in the very nice (and under-appreciated) Open Letter volume on Michael Henry Heim & A Life in Translation: The Man Between.
"Murakami Industries" (...) has always had an interest in cultivating and protecting his reputation in the West as carefully as possible.
This has meant a consistent presentation as a capital-N Novelist, which has meant a de-emphasis, not to say suppression, of the less literary side of his work: travel books about countries like Greece, Turkey, Australia, Laos, Scotland, and Ireland (those last two toured specifically to pursue his interest in whisky), anthology after anthology of columns on various everyday subjects, and a collection of his recollections from the 1980s
And all that jazz.
Kind of disappointing -- as is the constant cutting of his work in English translation (most egregiously in one of the few translated non-fiction works, Underground) -- but not entirely surprising.
Maybe eventually .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of another dark Frédéric Dard novel, The Executioner Weeps, forthcoming from Pushkin Press (and bless them for bringing these Dards out at a steady clip !).
One of the recent French re-issues of this had one of the worst cover-images I've ever come across -- though it touches on some of what's in the novel (tears; a violin -- though not one that gets played with a knife ...):
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Senegalese Novel by Sembene Ousmane, The Last of the Empire.
I can see that this is a book of (and past) its time, but I'm still surprised by how unmentioned/discussed it goes; if I was surprised yesterday at how many reviews I found for Amélie Nothomb's play, Human Rites, I was disappointed by how little I found for this.
Come on people -- it was Sembene Ousmane !
Or do folks only care about his movies ?
(Or was it too topically-hot, and too obvious in its attack on a (then still-)living legend ?)
(Of course that cover didn't help; I like simple covers, but .....)
The great Alasdair Gray is featured in the Winter 2016 issue of The Paris Review, with a (not yet fully freely available) 'The Art of Fiction ' Q & A, and at The Paris Review's the Daily Caitlin Love also offers a brief look -- with examples ! -- at his paintings, in Drawing and Imagining -- always worth a look.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's play, Human Rites.
That's the twentieth Nothomb title under review at the complete review, as I am getting close to plugging the (older) backlist holes (Attentat next !).
It's also one with surprisingly many English-language reviews -- albeit for the stage-production, rather than the print version.
Always interesting to see what foreign literature is subsidized elsewhere, and in Germany Litprom -- supporting African, Asian, Latin American, and Arabic literature -- have announced their most recent subsidies -- though it's a poor show of a press release, tucked away at the official site.
Boersenblatt has the same (limited) news: Zuschüsse für zehn Titel -- subsidies for ten translations.
No titles are mentioned, so it's not clear what the subsidized titles are, but the authors are noted (because apparently it matters who wrote it, rather than what they wrote ...), and three Syrian works are being subsidized, along with an Alejandro Zambra story-collection, a 'rediscovered' Samuel Selvon novel, and novels by Meja Mwangi (nice !), Mia Couto, and 'an Indian novel' by Karan Mahajan.
A decent spread of titles.
The Bangkok City Library (no official site ?) is, amazingly, apparently opening early, the big project due to be finished two months early and opening next month; see Supoj Wancharoen's Bangkok Post report, Ambitious library to carry capital's literary ambitions.
Sounds/looks promising ("The library could potentially be kept open 24 hours a day if there is enough demand for it" !).
At least for the most part - I'm not sure about some of the priorities ...:
Entering the first floor, visitors will be greeted with a large portrait of the late King.
There are sculptures containing Rama IX's remarks about the importance of reading and curiosity in pursuit of knowledge.
As, for example, Olivia Ho reports in the Straits Times, there's a New movement to get Singaporeans to buy local books -- a campaign that: "will feature a weekend of islandwide literary activities" from 24 to 26 February, #BuySingLit.
I'm not really sure why they need/use the 'hashtag' abbreviation, but this effort to get readers to 'Buy Local, Read Our World' seems like a decent idea.
Yokoyama Hideo's Six Four, already out in the UK, is due out in the US next week, and in The New York Times Motoko Rich profiles the author, in A Japanese Crime Thriller in Which Crime Is the Least of It.
Among the titbits of interest: Farrar, Straus and Giroux: "is planning an initial print run of 11,000 hardcover copies" (hey ! that sounds almost ... believable !).
And for those who think writing is an easy life:
He rented a 110-square-foot studio apartment and wrote for more than 20 hours a day, imbibing energy drinks to keep awake and popping sleeping pills when he needed to nap.
"I just stayed in that apartment, writing on three hours of sleep a night," he said.
"It was a big science experiment."
The punishing schedule caught up with him, and in 2003, Mr. Yokoyama had a heart attack.
As he gradually recovered and returned to writing, he could not even remember Mikami's name.
But long bouts tending his garden helped refresh him, and three years later, he finished the novel.
Books in translation increasingly dominate Israel's best-seller list, and some see a serious threat to Hebrew-language writers in the trend.
Books in translation dominating US/UK bestseller lists is hard to imagine -- it's a story if/when any break into the top ten -- but in many countries translations do often dominate them.
With only one out of this week's top ten fiction titles an originally-written-in-Hebrew title, one can see that they might be concerned locally -- though I'm not sure one can go so far as to say:
But the very survival of Israeli literature and the Hebrew language itself, is under threat if Israeli book buyers do not buy Hebrew books written in Hebrew, a category known in Israel as sifrut makor, and instead flock to international titles.
(Well, obviously book buyers have to buy some -- but do they have to be the most popular (i.e. make the bestseller lists) ?)
Good to hear that they'll be exploring this more closely in the coming weeks:
In coming months, The Forward will speak to players in Israel's literary scene for ideas on how both Israeli and diaspora readers can support the continued vibrancy of Hebrew literature at this critical moment, in Israel and abroad.
(Ironically, of course, translations-from-Hebrew -- at least into the major European languages -- remain very popular; I suspect that, on a per capita basis, Hebrew is second only to Icelandic as far as translations into English go.)
Indian-American author Bharati Mukherjee has passed away; see, for example, the obituary by William Grimes in The New York Times.
Her The Middleman won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction; see the Grove Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com.
World Literature Today has announced that they've launched a: "fully bilingual, quarterly online publication", Latin American Literature Today, and the first issue looks great: check it out in either the English or Spanish version.
(And wouldn't it be cool if they kept launching other local Literature Todays ... ?)
They announced the category winners a couple of weeks ago, and now they've announced the overall winner, the Whitbread Costa Book of the Year -- and it goes to Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, which had been the 'Novel'-category winner; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) .
The win is well-timed for the US release of the book -- last week.
See also the Faber publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.