They've handed out the Akutagawa and Naoki prizes again, as they do every six months, and, as Daisuke Kikuchi reports in The Japan Times, First-time writer awarded prestigious Akutagawa Prize.
That's Numata Shinsuke [沼田真佑], who won the Akutagawa Prize for his novel 'Eiri,' [影裏].
Satō Shōgo [佐藤正午] won the Naoki Prize for his novel, 'Tsuki no Michikake' [月の満ち欠け] ('The Waxing and Waning of the Moon').
As a debut author, it's not surprising that Numata is unknown in English; Satō, on the other hand, has been a prolific and successful author -- but is as yet untranslated into English.
See also the Books from Japan page on Satō, which also introduces two of his (other) titles.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Taiwanese author Wu He's Remains of Life, recently out in English from Columbia University Press.
It's a significant text; as translator Michael Berry notes in his Introduction: "Upon its publication in Taiwan, the novel won virtually every major national literary award".
The July issue of Asymptote is now available online and, as usual, there's a lot here to keep you busy for the next few days -- "never-before-published writing from 27 countries and 21 languages in one issue".
Impressive, top (Karin Boye !) to bottom -- definitely recommended.
Yes, Judges announced for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, with Lisa Appignanesi chairing, and Michael Hofmann, Hari Kunzru, Tim Martin, and Helen Oyeyemi making up the rest of the judging panel.
The longlist will be announced in March 2018, the shortlist in April, the winner in May.
(That's as specific as they've gotten so far.)
Anne Golon, the French author of the immensely popular Angélique-series -- reportedly selling over 150 million copies worldwide -- has passed away; see, for example, the report in Le Figaro.
The series never seemed to achieve quite the same popularity in English as it did elsewhere -- perhaps because the books, with which her husband Serge helped her with the research, were bizarrely ascribed to 'Sergeanne Golon'.
As explained in an article in Le Monde a few years ago:
Mais lorsque le premier tome d'Angélique, marquise des Anges sort, en 1957, il semble impensable que le nom d'une femme apparaisse seul en couverture.
L'éditeur américain propose alors une étrange solution, signer les romans «Sergeanne Golon».
«On m'a expliqué que le nom d'un homme ferait plus sérieux. Les journalistes ne pouvaient pas croire qu'une femme puisse être un auteur.»
But in France (and elsewhere) most everything soon came out as by 'Anne Golon' -- except in English, where 'Sergeanne' remained popular .....
Get your copy of the first volume at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Shibasaki Tomoka's 2014 Akutagawa Prize-winning novel, Spring Garden, out in the UK from Pushkin Press and due out in the US in November.
In The Guardian they get quite a selection of authors -- including Margaret Drabble, Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan, and Joyce Carol Oates -- to opine on Which is the greatest Jane Austen novel ?
Conveniently, there's no consensus .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Antonio Muñoz Molina's Like a Fading Shadow, coming out this week in the US from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and later this year in the UK.
This is yet another work of fiction which closely follows historical events -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin, James Earl Ray, on the run, in this case (with bonus points for Adolfo Bioy Casares and Juan Carlos Onetti cameos (yeah, not in the Ray sections ...)) -- and much as I enjoy adding to the Real People in Works of Fiction-index, I am tiring some of all this (semi-)historical fiction (but it's hard to get away from -- pretty much every other book I pick up seems to involve some ...).
They've announced that this year's winner of the Hawthornden prize is Mothering Sunday, by Graham Swift.
The Hawthornden prize is among England's oldest, and has an impressive list of very varied winning titles -- among those under review at the complete review are: David Jones' In Parenthesis (1938), Geoffrey Hill's King Log (1969), and Hilary Mantel's An Experiment in Love (1996).
It is also rather low-publicity, without an official site -- and not much internet-notice -- to the extent that The Guardian's report on this year's prize, by one of the five judges, Hermione Lee, is headlined: Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday wins fiction’s most secretive prize.
Like many writers, Peter Handke also has an illustrative itch, and there's an exhibit of his collected drawings, 2007-2017, on now in Berlin, at the Galerie Klaus Gerrit Friese -- with images available on that page.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prizes are a book award that honors books that: "that have led readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view", and aside from honoring a work of fiction and one of non each year, they also award a 'Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award', an author-award that, they've announced, this year will go to Colm Toíbín.
"If I were to put my money on it, I would say the story is not exactly what it seems," she said.
"It doesn't mean it's completely forgery," she added.
Perhaps, she speculated, the stories could be the work of a defector -- in her experience, most North Koreans have trouble recognizing the regime's internal contradictions until they've spent a significant amount of time outside its borders.
"I find it hard to believe that this was written by somebody in North Korea," she said.
As Rao also notes:
But very few works of North Korean literature are available in English.
There's Han Sorya's 1951 novella, "Jackals," [available in Brian Myers' Han Sorya and North Korean Literature] which is often cited as the epitome of juche literature -- propaganda promoting a uniquely North Korean brand of ethnic-nationalist self-reliance.
More contemporary work is hard to come by. A smattering of stories from North Korea's official state magazine, Chosun Munhak, and its state-run publishing house have been translated into English in recent years, but most writing about life in North Korea that is accessible to non-Korean readers is built around defector testimony.
As I noted in my review of the Bandi-stuff, what would be most interesting to see is fiction actually being published in North Korea; it's disappointing that so little of that makes it into English.
(And I suspect it would be more revealing -- though in an entirely different way -- than The Accusation-stories.)
Iran is one of the few international copyright holdouts -- leading to the free-for-all of multiple translations of (unprotected foreign) hot titles appearing (as I've often mentioned), and in the Tehran Times they now report on a translator who complains about one of the obvious consequences of this situation: Arsalan Fasihi: Iran's literary world suffers from bad translations.
He's pretty harsh about some of the translators' (non-)qualifications:
"Many of these translators are not acquainted with the written and literary language in Persian."
"These translators have not read Persian books and cannot write in Persian, and since Persian is their native language they assume that they can be translators," he lamented.
He also comes to the obvious conclusion:
There is no way to stop this chaos except by joining the Berne convention.
(I do note that there is something to be said for the chaos too: sure, the (original) authors and publishers get screwed, by not getting a cut of the proceeds, but more variety -- even (or especially ?) in translation -- is generally desirable, giving consumers choice (which they rarely have in the US, for example, except for with translations of older, out-of-copyright titles ...).
So maybe it's not all a bad thing ?
(The cost-savings -- some of which are presumably passed on to consumers -- of not paying for foreign rights are presumably a market positive too.))
They won't win any calligraphy prizes, but some Mao Zedong 'autograph manuscript notes on classical Chinese literature' were up for auction at Sotheby's yesterday, and the £60,000-80,000 estimate proved to be a woeful under-estimate, as the lot sold for a whopping £704,750.
The notes provide numerous valuable insights into Mao's thinking on literature.
Not surprisingly, his attention is mostly focused on the intersection of poetry and politics.
As to why the notes exist:
Di had difficulty understanding what Mao was saying.
On later visits she asked Mao to write his thoughts into a notepad to ease communication, and she also made her own notes of the conversation.
If his speech wasn't very clear, his writing was only slightly better:
The Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha chose 25 locations around the village as homes for the new books.
The selection criteria were simple: the homes should have enough space for both books and furniture, be located at a convenient distance from the main road and that the home's residents should be willing to join the enterprise as caretakers of the books.
Yes, most of these book-spaces have apparently been set up in private homes.
I do like how the official logo in this otherwise-known-for-its-strawberries town covers all the local bases: