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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 November 2017

11 November: 150 years of 'Reclams Universal-Bibliothek' | The Miranda review
12 November: Louis Cha in English | Baking With Kafka review
13 November: Het bureau in ... German | In Search of the Grail review
14 November: Literary prizes: Schweizer Buchpreis - Grand prix de littérature américaine | Bergeners review
15 November: Writing in ... Turkey | Prix du Quai des Orfèvres | Boundary review
16 November: Literary prizes: Goldsmiths Prize - (American) NBAs - Warwick Prize | ことり review
17 November: Premio Cervantes | NEA Literature Translation Fellowships | Arabian Satire review
18 November: 'Guests of Honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair | Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse submissions | Desai on Jhabvala
19 November: DSC Prize | Burmese writers | Affections review
20 November: Roger Grenier (1919-2017) | Boathouse review

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20 November 2017 - Monday

Roger Grenier (1919-2017) | Boathouse review

       Roger Grenier (1919-2017)

       I'm just catching up with the news that French author Roger Grenier has passed away; see for example the Libération piece.
       The University of Chicago Press brought out several of his works over the past years, and two of these are under review at the complete review -- Another November and Palace of Books -- and, yes, he rated a mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Boathouse review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jon Fosse's Boathouse.

       This is major early fiction from the better-known-as-a-playwright -- and possibly sometime Nobel-contender -- Fosse, just out in English from Dalkey Archive Press. Here's hoping it gets the coverage it deserves ..... (Here's me not holding my breath .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



19 November 2017 - Sunday

DSC Prize | Burmese writers | Affections review

       DSC Prize

       They've announced that the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature goes to The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam.

       I haven't seen this, but it's both US and UK available; see the Flatiron and Granta publicty pages, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Burmese writers

       In the Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports on U Myo Thant and U Thaw Kaung's just-published Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Myanmar Writers, covering 137 authors; see also the publisher (Myanmar Book Centre) publicity page.
       (A sadly limited number of Burmese titles are under review at the complete review; I'd love to cover more -- and to see this volume .....)

       Meanwhile, at Mizzima Ben Dunant reports on the recent Irrawaddy Literary Festival, in Culture shock: Irrawaddy Literary Festival -- while in the South China Morning Post Kate Whitehead reports that Future of Myanmar's Irrawaddy Literary Festival thrown into doubt after accusations of poor organisation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Affections review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bolivian (but living in the US ...) author Rodrigo Hasbún's widely-hailed Affections, which came out in the UK last year (from Pushkin Press) and has now also arrived in the US (from Simon & Schuster).

       (Much as I enjoy adding to the site-index of Real People in Works of Fiction, there are days -- like today -- when I'd be happy never to see another work of fiction that relied on any ..... Fiction, folks, fiction; try that; stop getting caught up in (or thinking you can 'capture') real-life characters; try: through and through fiction ..... )

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



18 November 2017 - Saturday

'Guests of Honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse submissions | Desai on Jhabvala

       'Guests of Honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair

       They've announced another 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair: in 2021 Spain takes center stage, for the first time in 30 years (though Catalan literature slipped in there in the meantime ...).
       Before the Spanish take their turn, the scheduled guests of honour are:        And it looks like Slovenia is the 2022 frontrunner -- no official announcement/agreement yet, but they obviously think they're on the verge.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse submissions

       The Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair -- the spring German best book prize, sort of the younger/smaller sibling of the German Book Prize -- will only announce its longlists on 8 February, but they've now finished the submission period, and report that they have 403 titles to consider, in the three categories in which they award prizes. Disappointingly (and inexplicably) they don't actually name/list the titles ...; indeed, they don't even offer a breakdown by prize-category.
       The prize is noteworthy for not only honoring a best work of fiction (like the German Book Prize) but for also honoring non-fiction, as well as best translation .

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Desai on Jhabvala

       The Guardian has Anita Desai on her literary apprenticeship with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala -- complete with V.S.Naipaul anecdote.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



17 November 2017 - Friday

Premio Cervantes | NEA Literature Translation Fellowships
Arabian Satire review

       Premio Cervantes

       They've announced that the 2017 Premio Cervantes -- the leading Spanish-language author-award (paying out €125,000) will go to Sergio Ramírez (though he has to wait until April for the big ceremony ...). (The prize traditionally alternates between Spanish and Latin American authors; it was a LatAm year.)
       As longtime readers know, I've long considered Ramírez underappreciated in the English-speaking world (and have suggested that, if they were in the mood to entertain giving the Nobel to a more obviously political author -- and who, after all, can predict their strange moods ? -- the Swedish Academy might have him in the running for that prize; he surely has been nominated for it -- probably often -- over the years); four of his titles are under review at the complete review:        It seems doubtful the prize-win will do much to raise his US/UK profile -- despite his interesting backstory (which includes a five-year stint as vice-president of Nicaragua); it hasn't done much (at least not that I've noticed) for the last three winners -- Eduardo Mendoza (No Word From Gurb, etc.), Fernando del Paso (Palinuro of Mexico, etc.), and Juan Goytisolo.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       NEA Literature Translation Fellowships

       They've announced the 2018 (American) National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for creative writing (prose) (36 x US$25,000) and for literary translation (22 x $12,500/25,000).
       The list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of the creative writing recipients only offers their names (and headshots ...), but the list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of translation recipients includes descriptions of their projects -- a nice variety that includes a couple of Indian-language translations -- novels by Intizar Husain and U.R.Ananthamurthy, for example --, an Angélica Gorodischer novel, and a novel by an author: "Known as the cult author of Bolivian supernatural gothic literature" (Giovanna Rivero).
       Great to see the translation- and writing-support -- especially given the current administration's antipathy towards the NEA and its mission.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Arabian Satire review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the latest volume in NYU Press' Library of Arabic Literature-series, Ḥmēdān al-Shwēʿir's Arabian Satire: Poetry from 18th-Century Najd.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



16 November 2017 - Thursday

Literary prizes: Goldsmiths Prize - (American) NBAs - Warwick Prize
ことり review

       Literary prize: Goldsmiths Prize

       They've announced that H(a)ppy, by Nicola Barker, has won this year's Goldsmiths Prize -- a 10,000 prize that: "is committed to rewarding British and Irish fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form".
       See also the William Heinemann publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literary prizes: (American) NBAs

       They've announced the winners of the 2017 (American) National Book Awards in the four categries they have.
       The fiction prize went to Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward; see the Scribner publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       The non-fiction prize went to The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, by Masha Gessen; see the Granta publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literary prize: Warwick Prize for Women in Translation

       The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation is a new prize for: "the best eligible work of fiction, poetry or literary non-fiction, or work of fiction for children or young adults that has been written by a woman, translated into English by a female or male translator, and published by a UK or Irish publisher", and they've announced (though not yet at the official site, as I write this ...) that Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada, and translated by Susan Bernofsky, has won the inaugural prize.
       Hey, a book I've reviewed !

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       ことり review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ogawa Yoko's ことり -- the seventh Ogawa under review at the complete review (and the third not (yet) available in English ...).

       The French and Germans are much better at keeping up with her output, but at least another Ogawa is due in English next year -- not this one, but The Memory Police; see the Curtis Brown information page -- and you can even pre-order the (UK) edition at Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



15 November 2017 - Wednesday

Writing in ... Turkey | Prix du Quai des Orfèvres
Boundary review

       Writing in ... Turkey

       At Deutsche Welle Kürsat Akyol reports that Books come under suspicion in post-coup Turkey, as: 'since Turkey's attempted 2016 coup, a growing number of books have been outlawed and confiscated, with some even being considered evidence for certain crimes'.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prix du Quai des Orfèvres

       They've announced that the 2018 prix du Quai des Orfèvres will go to Tension extrême, by Sylvain Forge; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report
       The news here, however, isn't who won, but rather that that iconic address -- Quai des Orfèvres, police headquarters for Maigret and everyone else -- is no longer the Parisian HQ. Maybe they need to rename the prize '36 rue du Bastion' -- the location of the new headquarters. Not quite the same, is it ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Boundary review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andrée A. Michaud's prize-winning novel, Boundary: The Last Summer, now out in English from No Exit (in the UK) and Biblioasis (Canada/US).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



14 November 2017 - Tuesday

Literary prizes: Schweizer Buchpreis - Grand prix de littérature américaine
Bergeners review

       Literary prize: Schweizer Buchpreis

       The Swiss Book Prize -- which is, in fact, only the German-language Swiss Book Prize -- has been awarded to Kraft, by Jonas Lüscher (which was also longlisted for this year's German Book Prize); see also the New Books in German review (and information), and the C.H.Beck information page.
       Despite (but also in part because of ...) the Silicon Valley locale connection, this looks to me like the likeliest to land in the US/UK of the three German-language national book award winners.

       Haus did bring out Lüscher's Barbarian Spring not too long ago; despite some decent attention (very favorable reviews in The New York Times Book Review and Wall Street Journal !) it does not seem to have made much of an impression; see also the US distributor's publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. Obviously, there was a ... shortfall in the marketing of this title: the New York Public Library has a non-circulating copy of the German original, seven (!) circulating copies of the French translation (really ! what the hell is that about ?) -- and not a single copy of the English version; FWIW, I didn't get a copy either.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literary prize: Grand prix de littérature américaine

       If you think French literary prize juries are more discerning than American ones, then maybe you want them to decide what's best in American fiction, too; if so the just-announced Grand prix de littérature américaine is for you -- and, hey, that's certainly a more impressive prize-title than 'Pulitzer' or 'National Book Award', isn't it ?
       Anyway, this year's prize goes to Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo; see the Livres Hebdo report, as well as the Vintage publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Bergeners review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tomas Espedal's Bergeners, the latest Espedal out from Seagull Books.

       It also includes this great meeting-Dag-Solstad scene:

Espedal meets Solstad


       Espedal is great; Solstad is ... oh, just read him. There must still be copies of Shyness and Dignity out there (and, for the patient, New Directions have a couple coming up in the years to come ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



13 November 2017 - Monday

Het bureau in ... German | In Search of the Grail review

       Het bureau in ... German

       It took a while -- and two publishers, C.H.Beck bowing out after giving it a try with the first volume, before Verbrecher Verlag picked it up and published the full seven-volume series -- but J.J.Voskuil's Het bureau, all ca. 5500 pages worth, first published in Dutch between 1996 and 2000, is now available in German translation; see, for example, the publicity pages for volume one at G.A. van Oorschot and Verbrecher Verlag, as well as now this (German) Q & A with Verbrecher Verlag-publisher Jörg Sundermeier at BuchMarkt about the undertaking.
       This office-novel is something of a modern cult novel/epic in the Netherlands -- but poses obvious translation issues (mainly its bulk, and the cost of translating that, but also the question of whether this kind of thing might have any appeal abroad; five volumes in, the taz reviewer argued it won't fly in a Germany where the middle class looks towards escapist fiction, not writing that realistically mirrors daily life -- and thinks Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener is the most obvious book to compare it to (though Melville's novella doesn't go on for over 5000 pages...)).
       For some English-language discussion, see a review of volumes one through four at Heloise Merlin's Weblog, as well as G.F.H. Raat 'On the Work of J.J.Voskuil', in From Writer at his Own Expense to Public Phenomenon, from The Low Countries (1999) -- which also makes me think that I'd love to see his much earlier debut, Bij nader inzien, too .....
       See also the Dutch Foundation for Literature's J.J.Voskuil-information page.

       (I have the first two volumes of Het Bureau, the first in German, the second in Dutch, but I haven't really plunged in yet; I'm tempted -- but it is quite a commitment. And presumably also more of one than any US/UK publisher would be willing to undertake .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       In Search of the Grail review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Svetislav Basara's In Search of the Grail: The Cyclist Conspiracy, Part Two.
       The first part, The Cyclist Conspiracy, came out from Open Letter a few years ago, but it's Dalkey Archive Press that have brought out this 1990 novel; good also to see that they're continuing to bring out more of this prolific author's work: the story-collection Fata Morgana two years ago (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and, next year, the promising-looking Mongolian Travel Guide (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



12 November 2017 - Sunday

Louis Cha in English | Baking With Kafka review

       Louis Cha in English

       I mentioned in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction that: "One very popular Chinese literary genre that has received limited attention abroad is wuxia, martial arts fiction.", and the only example I cited was the phenomenally popular Louis Cha ("superior historical entertainment and a welcome escapist alternative", I suggested), as Oxford University Press has actually brought out some (expensive) editions of his work, including The Deer & the Cauldron (in a John Minford translation ! it's the only one which I actually own); see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Now another UK publisher is having a go at bringing one of the most popular Chinese-writing authors -- reportedly in the 100(s of) million copies sold -- into English, as MacLehose is bringing the 'Legends of the Condor Heroes'-series into English, starting with A Hero Born (in February, 2018); interestingly, they're going with his Chinese name, publishing them under 'Jin Yong' -- to sound more 'authentically' Chinese ? See their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.co.uk. (Predictably, reports have it that they are: "marketing the book to the Western readers as a Chinese version of the Game of Thrones".)
       There have now been a couple of articles about this (in the Chinese press ...), including Xing Yi's report in China Daily, Louis Cha's acclaimed trilogy to be translated into English, Huang Tingting's UK publisher working on English edition of Jin Yong's 'Legends of the Condor Heroes' in the Global Times, and the CGTN report, Female Oxford Grad to Publish Her Translation of Chinese Classical 'Wuxia' Novel -- where they report:
Jin Yong enjoys massive popularity among the Chinese readers. However, the Western world has barely heard of his name, partly because of the limited power of translations to accurately transform emotion and essence of traditional Chinese culture and literature into English.
       Well, let's hope Anna Holmwood manages.

       (Updated - 18 November): See now also Echo Huang and Isabella Steger's report at Quartzy, The Lord of the Rings of Chinese literature is finally being translated into English.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Baking With Kafka review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tom Gauld's new comics-collection, Baking With Kafka.
       (Yes, they're mainly 'literary' (or publishing industry/writer-related) comic strips.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



11 November 2017 - Saturday

150 years of 'Reclams Universal-Bibliothek' | The Miranda review

       150 years of 'Reclams Universal-Bibliothek'

       German publisher Reclam's 'Universal-Bibliothek' is one of the great classic-literature series (which also includes some modern texts), published (for the most part) in the ubiquitous small yellow volumes (though there are also other colors, and designs, including: red for foreign language texts -- they do that too (e.g. Amélie Nothomb's Antéchrista) -- and orange for the bilingual editions, and a lot of my ancient ones are still the old pre-yellow off-white) and in the perfect true pocket-size -- and they're now celebrating their 150th anniversary; see Sabine Peschel's Reclam Publishers' yellow little books: 150 years of world literature at Deutsche Welle.
       I have literally hundreds of these -- heavy on classical drama, most of my Goethe and Kant, pre-classical German literature (a dozen Andreas Gryphius alone, surely), and a lot of bilingual Greek/ and Latin/German texts (they're even handier than the Loeb editions). (I also treasure my East German volumes -- larger-sized, white-covered, not quite the same thing -- which introduced me to quite a lot of not otherwise readily accessible international literature.)
       Good to see they remain popular:
These days, there are some 3,500 titles available in the Universal-Bibliothek, with total sales of 0.6 billion copies.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Miranda review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Geoff Nicholson's new novel, The Miranda.

       This is the nineteenth Nicholson-title under review at the complete review: only Naguib Mahfouz and Amélie Nothomb have more titles under review; he definitely seems underappreciated to me.
       (He does go through a lot of publishers -- this one is out from Unnamed Press.)
       (Given the un-state-of-the-art look and handling of this site, I'm also always heartened to find that his official author page is a Tripod site; I'm always amazed that there still are Tripod sites .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



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