At the European Literature Network Natasha Perova gives a quick overview of The Story of Glas: Publishing New Russian Writing in English Translation, about her landmark publishing house, Glas.
It is currently 'on hold' -- as: ""certain deplorable changes in world publishing eventually meant it was becoming increasingly difficult to produce translated fiction without subsidies".
Only a few Glas titles are under review at the complete review, but there's a lot more of interest, too.
Chad Post recently released a major update to all the spreadsheets at Three Percent's invaluable Translation Database -- so if you want to know what (not previously translated) poetry and fiction in translation was published in the US the past decade, you can find the information there -- there's even a (very preliminary) 2018 spreadsheet !
At Three Percent Chad also looks at some of the information that can be sifted from the numbers -- here basically about the male/female divide in translation (trend: improving -- but still not even close to what it should be).
I look forward to more analysis !
Tarjei Vesaas has written the best Norwegian novel ever, The Birds -- it is absolutely wonderful, the prose is so simple and so subtle, and the story is so moving that it would have been counted amongst the great classics from the last century if it had been written in one of the major languages.
(I think it counts, regardless ... and good to see Archipelago recently reissue it in the US; it has long been UK available from Peter Owen; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
But you really can't go wrong with Vesaas -- try The Ice Palace , too !)
Knausgaard also found Thomas Bernhard's My Prizes laugh-out-loud funny -- and as to who he would want to write his life story, he suggests Krasznahorkai (!) -- or Lydia Davis.
The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain.
It has no serious critics.
Many, certainly -- and the publishing industry, of course (but that's just business) -- but I still come across many people thinking of, reading, and valuing books by rather different criteria
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Emma Reyes' The Book of Emma Reyes -- subtitled, in its UK edition, A Memoir in Correspondence.
This recent -- the Spanish original came out in 2012 -- posthumous discovery has been making the international rounds, and its discovery, the book itself, and Reyes' interesting life (beyond what she covers in this childhood memoir) certainly make for a good story.
Hey, even The New York Times couldn't resist covering it a few days ago .....
They've announced the 20-title-strong longlist for the German Book Prize, selected from 200 entries (which, regrettably and outrageously, are not revealed) -- 174 submitted novels, and 26 called-in titles.
Quite a few of these authors have had work translated into English; Ingo Schulze's Peter Holtz is apparently an early favorite.
The shortlist will be announced 12 September, the winner on 9 October (at the Frankfurt Book Fair).
I was a bit leery of this -- his Me Against the World didn't work very well for me, and the title of this one doesn't help -- but I can see why it was such a big success in Japan.
Still heavy on the introspective philosophizing, the narrative foundation here is just much better than in Me Against the World; it's the most satisfying novel I've read in quite some time.
A few extraordinary translations from Indian languages to English -- where we are recognising the translation, not the work itself.
In these books the translator rather than the author's name are mentioned front up.
The English-language focus -- and the: "Only one book per author"-limitation (surely an odd one, when you're making a best-book list) -- are pretty ... limiting, but there are certainly many works of interest on the list (and a few that are under review at the complete review).
Georges Simenon always -- well, for the past 40 or so years -- seemed to be well-served by (Swiss-based) German-language publisher Diogenes; they published over two hundred of his titles, from the Maigrets to the romans durs to things like the Mémoires intimes (in a complete translation, not like the abomination that is the US/UK edition, Intimate Memoirs); see also the bibliography at Quai des Orfèvres.
But, as already noted in a tweet from December, Diogenes lost the German-language rights last August, and have simply been emptying stock for the past year: the official site now doesn't list a single of their Simenon titles in print or available.
Boersenblatt.de has now taken note; apparently Simenon-heir John, and estate representatives Peters Frasers + Dunlop ditched Diogenes -- leaving Simenon's work in a German-language limbo.
(It is my understanding that New York Review Books, publishers of a fine little Simenon-collection, has also been de-righted.)
I thought Diogenes did a fine job, and I find it hard to imagine any publisher would do markedly better, but of course literary heirs are free to screw with estates and success however they please.
Still, there's screwing and there's screwing, and I note that a search on Amazon.de suggests the works of Georges Simenon are entirely out of print in German.
Let that sink in for a moment: the works of one of the best selling and most popular authors ever (Wikipedia has him ranked sixth all-time) are currently completely out of print in one of the languages in which he has been the most successful .....
WTF ? indeed.
No doubt, Simenon jr. and PFD have someone lined up, or eventually will, or hope to, who will let them squeeze more money out of the backlist (because, as noted, Simenon is popular in German(y)).
But he's apparently been out of print for a year now, and if there's been a big (or any) announcement of a/the new German-language publisher I've missed it .....
Sure, Diogenes churned out enough of these over the decades that readers can hunt down old copies of more or less everything.
But this is an ugly page out of the Wylie school of literary (mis)representation, in which the interests of readers come dead last (or rather, aren't considered at all): better to hold out -- no matter how long -- for the (potentially) 'better' deal than actually ensure the books are available to interested readers.
Simenon is a more or less unkillable brand -- but I still think they're doing him (and, more importantly: his work) a disservice.
And they're certainly showing how little they care about actual readers.
(Updated - 17 August): As now reported by Philipp Haibach in Die Welt, Simenon's new German-language publisher will be Kampa Verlag.
Who ? you ask -- noticing also that I don't link to a publisher's website ... well, that's because they don't have one yet.
Kampa is a start-up that isn't publishing anything yet -- they hope to start next year.
The pedigree is impressive -- founder Daniel Kampa was publisher at bona fide publisher Hoffmann & Campe -- and with Simenon as a foundation they should do just fine.
They've announced the winners of this year's James Tait Black Prizes: The Lesser Bohemians, by Eimear McBride -- out in paperback in the US today; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- , took the fiction prize, and The Vanishing Man, by Laura Cumming, took the biography prize.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor.
Lee Child, you say ?
Well, John Lanchester admitted to being a fan in The New Yorker, and while on his European tour last year César Aira (How I became a Nun, etc.) repeatedly mentioned in interviews that he was gobbling up Child-books on the way -- and he even mentioned him in his opening speech (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) at the literature festival berlin last year:
And when I like something too much, as has recently happened with Lee Child, I have to ask myself seriously: is it really as good as it seems to me ?
Elsewhere, Aira has said: "Lee Child is a genius."
So, yeah, I was curious.
(After reading this, I'm not entirely convinced.
Borderline -- I might try one more, just to see (Persuader, probably -- Lanchester says it's the best of the lot).)
They've announced the longlist for this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 13 novels selected from "more than 60 eligible entries" (regrettably unrevealed).
Several of the books are US/UK available -- and some have even gotten decent attention abroad (Aravind Adiga's Selection Day and Karan Mahajan's The Association of Small Bombs, for example).
Only two are translations -- The Poison of Love, by K.R.Meera, and Pyre, by Perumal Murugan.
The shortlist will be announced on 27 September, the winner on 18 November.
Is it that our language not 'translation ready' ?
Or is it that our literature revolves around a 'Malayali space' not palatable to others ?
(Only five translated-from-the-Malayalam titles are under review at the complete review -- but, as with books translated from most Indian languages, the issue for me is mainly being able to get my hands on any.)
Milan Kundera famously not only moved from Czechoslovakia (as it was still then) to France, but also from writing in Czech to writing in French (e.g. The Festival of Insignificance), and at Eurozine Samuel Abrahám now recounts getting Kundera in Slovak, almost, as Kundera's linguistic shift has had the consequence that:
Kundera wrote in French an additional three books of essays and his last four novels.
As he explained to me, he alone can translate his own text into Czech, for he cannot imagine someone else doing it.
He added with some regret that translation costs him plenty of energy, and time is getting short ... so his books were translated from French into many languages, but not into his native Czech.
So the chances of seeing (reading) him in Slovak .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Max Frisch's long-sealed (for twenty years after his death, per his instructions) From the Berlin Journal, now also out in English, from Seagull Books.
They've announced that the 2017 Rheingau Literatur Preis will be awarded (on 24 September) to popular German author Ingo Schulze.
This is one of these gimmicky prizes that tries to stand out with a little twist to the actual prize -- here both in the amount (€11,111) and the bonus (111 bottles of premium Rheingau riesling).
(Hey, it works -- that's why you're reading about this here, now .....)
Still, as far as gimmicks go, a couple of cases of decent white wine isn't the worst.
Schulze is quite well-represented in English -- translated by Arno Schmidt-translator John E. Woods, no less -- and though none of his books are under review at the complete review at this time, he did of course rate a mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
Get your copy of, for example, his novel New Lives at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(Gratuitous observation: it's nice of the Châteaux Hotel Burg Schwarzenstein to throw in some of the prize-money and host the bash, but, damn, that is not a happy mix of architectures classical and new.
I realize it's hard to build around Middle Ages stone, but .....)
The complete review -- the site, the review stuff -- has been around since 1999, but this Literary Saloon weblog was a relatively late addition, the first post only coming 11 August 2002.
Still, that's fifteen years ago today, for those of you keeping track of these anniversaries (and, hey, on the internet fifteen years is several lifetimes -- just look at all the book-blogs that have come and gone in the meantime .....).
I'm not really sure how (or why ?) I manage to keep going, but somehow I do, apparently without stop (I don't know the last time I even just skipped a day, but it has been a couple of years).
Even in these very slow (literary-news-wise) summer months.
For those of you still reading along -- many thanks for the continued interest and support !