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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 March 2018

1 March: (Un)revised Ulysses in German | On the Edge review
2 March: Translation Prizes | Ko Un, disgraced | Australian newspaper fiction | Walter Scott Prize longlist
3 March: James Wood profile | 'Weltempfänger 38'
4 March: Ota Filip (1930-2018) | 'Most lost' BPL books | Falling Walls review
5 March: Project Gutenberg, blocked in Germany
6 March: British avant garde | Мова review
7 March: Indra Bahadur Rai (1927-2018) | EBRD Literature Prize finalists | Libris Literatuur Prijs shortlist | The Bear and the Paving Stone review
8 March: Windham-Campbell Prizes | Women's Prize for Fiction longlist | Stella Prize shortlist | Ulysses in ... Kurdish
9 March: Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A | Korean literary sex scandals | Patrick Grainville elected to Académie française | Petite Fleur review
10 March: Norwegian literature abroad | Jenny Erpenbeck Q & A

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10 March 2018 - Saturday

Norwegian literature abroad | Jenny Erpenbeck Q & A

       Norwegian literature abroad

       NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) report that 2017 -- A Record Year for Norwegian Literature Abroad. This covers only books that received translation support from NORLA -- but that pretty much covers everything, the occasional crime writer excepted (yes, even the Karl Ove Knausgaard books gets translation-subsidies). And the numbers are pretty good: 538 books by Norwegian authors, translated into 44 languages -- of which adult fiction was just under half (259 titles).
       It's certainly up a lot from 2004 -- when 107 titles got grants -- but that's presumably in some part also because of more grant- and infrastructure investment: in 2007 there were already 307, and the increase last year isn't that much from the 499 in 2016.
       The preparations for Norway being 'guest of honour' at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair also help explain the recent push and success -- and it's also no surprise that German is the language in which the most translations have been made -- 52 books that received translation-support. Embarrassingly, translations into English are only the third-highest contingent -- behind ... Danish, too.

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

       Jenny Erpenbeck Q & A

       They held the Puterbaugh Festival the past few days (yeah, sorry about the late mention ...), with Visitation-author Jenny Erpenbeck featured as the 2018 Puterbaugh Fellow.
       In OU Daily Sam Tonkins has a Q & A with her.

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

9 March 2018 - Friday

Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A | Korean literary sex scandals
Patrick Grainville elected to Académie française | Petite Fleur review

       Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A

       In Entertainment Weekly David Canfield has a Q & A with Jhumpa Lahiri, about her most recent Domenico Starnone-translation -- after Ties she's now translated Trick; see the Europa Editions publicity page, or get your copy at or; I have a copy and should be getting to it soon.
       She's certainly a fan:
I think Domenico is the finest Italian living writer; I really feel there's no one writing fiction as fine, as interesting, as beautiful, as powerful.

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

       Korean literary sex scandals

       Poet Ko Un's disgrace (see my previous mention) is only the latest in a series of scandals rocking the South Korean literary world, and in The Korea Times Kang Hyun-kyung now reports How literary world, not show business, became epicenter of #MeToo earthquake there -- as:
Unlike America, in Korea the shame-based initiative began in literary circles, not in the film industry
       Among the observations:
Those who are familiar with the literary world say violent language and eccentric behavior have long been part of literary circles.
A decadent lifestyle has long been the dominant culture of literary circles, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Literary people considered those who were bound by social norms and ethics "chicken" and for them crossing the line or going too far verbally was something akin to being chic or sophisticated.
       It'll be interesting to see whether there will be any trickle-down effect of this to the publication and reception of South Korean literature abroad.

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

       Patrick Grainville elected to Académie française

       Patrick Grainville was elected to the Académie française, on the first vote, and takes over fauteuil 9.
       The (1976) prix Goncourt-winning author is surprisingly under-translated into English -- The Cave of Heaven, first published by Dalkey Archive Press more than a quarter of a century ago, appears to be the lone translated novel; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Petite Fleur review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iosi Havilio's short novel, Petite Fleur, recently out from And Other Stories.
       This is one of those almost impossible to review books -- because any proper discussion would necessarily reveal too much .....
       It is also one of the unusual books that, in its English translation, is published with a foreign title -- but where the foreign title is different from, and in a different language than the original title (here: Pequeña flor). Another example is Carlo Lucarelli's Carta bianca, published in English as: Carte Blanche.

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

8 March 2018 - Thursday

Windham-Campbell Prizes | Women's Prize for Fiction longlist
Stella Prize shortlist | Ulysses in ... Kurdish

       Windham-Campbell Prizes

       As widely noted, they've announced this year's eight recipients of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, each of whom will get: "a $165,000 USD prize to support their writing".
       John Keene and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi are the fiction winners, Sarah Bakewell and Olivia Laing the non-fiction winners, Lucas Hnath and Suzan-Lori Parks the dramatists, and Lorna Goodison and Cathy Park Hong the poets.

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

       Women's Prize for Fiction longlist

       They've announced the sixteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Orange/Baileys/Women's Prize for Fiction.
       The shortlist will be announced 23 April, the winner 6 June.

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

       Stella Prize shortlist

       The Stella Prize -- for which both fiction and non by female Australian authors are eligible -- has announced its 2018 shortlist.
       One of the books is actually a novel in translation: Iranian-born Shokoofeh Azar's The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is translated from the Persian -- though you'd hardly know it from how translator Adrien Kijek's name and role are buried: he does get a brief mention in the 'Judges' report' at the prize page for the book, but there's no mention of him on publisher Wild Dingo Press' publicity page (or, indeed, the entire site), or in many of the reviews.
       The winner will be announced 12 April.

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

       Ulysses in ... Kurdish

       At Tom Stevenson and Murat Bayram report that: 'Kawa Nemir has just finished translating James Joyce's masterpiece of Irish literature into the Kurdish Kurmanji dialect', in Across snotgrean seas.
       Nemir admits: "It was frankly very difficult".

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

7 March 2018 - Wednesday

Indra Bahadur Rai (1927-2018) | EBRD Literature Prize finalists
Libris Literatuur Prijs shortlist | The Bear and the Paving Stone review

       Indra Bahadur Rai (1927-2018)

       Leading Nepali author Indra Bahadur Rai has passed away; see, for example, the report in The Kathmandu Post.

       His There's a Carnival Today came out in an English translation by Manjushree Thapa just a few months ago; see the Speaking Tiger Books publicity page, or get your copy at or
       I have a(n e-)copy, and have been meaning to get to it.

       (Updated - 8 March): See now also, for example, Amish Raj Mulmi Remembering Indra Bahadur Rai, the Writer Who Defined the Indian-Nepali Identity at The Wire, as well as such nicely-titled mentions as: A pillar of Nepali literature crumbles (Reza Pradhan, The Statesman) and Nepali Literary Skies Falls Short Of One Brightest Guiding Star (The Voice of Sikkim).

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

       EBRD Literature Prize finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the first EBRD Literature Prize, the odd prize: "meant to recognise and promote the extraordinary richness, depth and variety of culture and history in the countries in which the Bank invests".
       The finalists are:
  • All the World's a Stage, by Boris Akunin, translated by Andrew Bromfield
  • Belladonna, by Daša Drndić, translated by Celia Hawkesworth
  • Istanbul Istanbul, by Burhan Sönmez, translated by Ümit Hussein
       The winner will be announced 10 April.

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

       Libris Literatuur Prijs shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for one of the leading (and, at €50,000, richest) Dutch fiction prizes, the Libris Literatuur Prijs.
       Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer and Tommy Wieringa -- both of whom have previously won the prize, and both of whom have had work translated into English -- both still have books in the running.
       The winning title will be announced 7 May.

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

       The Bear and the Paving Stone review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a collection of three stories by Horie Toshiyuki, The Bear and the Paving Stone.

       This is another volume in Pushkin Press' nice little contemporary Japanese series.
       It is also yet another volume which includes an Akutagawa Prize-winning story (the title piece, in this case); I have so many under review now that I've added an Akutagawa-listing to the prize-index .....

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

6 March 2018 - Tuesday

British avant garde | Мова review

       British avant garde

       In The Guardian D.J.Taylor offers From blank pages to 13,000 word sentences: a brief history of British avant garde writing.
       A couple of these authors are well-represented at the complete review -- Ann Quin and B.S.Johnson --, a few far too little (Christine Brooke-Rose is among the authors I would most like to cover more of; so far, I've only managed a review of Xorandor), a few not at all (Eva Figes ...).

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

       Мова review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Victor Martinovich's Мова.

       The Belarusian author wrote this in Belarusian -- though he's also published works in Russian (there is a difference), including the one earlier novel that has been translated into English, Paranoia, which Northwestern University Press brought out (and which got mentions both in The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books ...).

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

5 March 2018 - Monday

Project Gutenberg, blocked in Germany

       Project Gutenberg, blocked in Germany

       Project Gutenberg, a leading repository of free e-books, has found itself compelled to block access to (all) German readers, as a result of a 9 February court judgment in favor of plaintiffs S.Fischer in a lawsuit filed a couple of years ago; see the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation information-page on the situation.
       S.Fischer complained about the availability of eighteen specific texts -- by Thomas and Heinrich Mann, and Alfred Döblin -- which PGLAF maintains are no longer under copyright protection in the US (though they are in Germany).
       An interesting clash-of-copyright-laws (and internet access) case.
       I also note that several of these works apparently still are available to German internet-users at the Internet Archive.

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

4 March 2018 - Sunday

Ota Filip (1930-2018) | 'Most lost' BPL books | Falling Walls review

       Ota Filip (1930-2018)

       Leading expatriate Czech author Ota Filip has passed away; see, for example, the (German) dpa report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
       He lived in Germany since the early 1970s; surprisingly, none of his work appears to have been translated into English (the dissident market saturated by Kundera/Kohout/Havel/Škvorecký/Vaculík/Klíma/etc. ?).

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

       'Most lost' BPL books

       Library borrowing statistics are always interesting to see, and in the Boston Globe Laura Crimaldi looks at the category of books that most often go missing from the Boston Public Library collection, in These are the BPL's most-lost books.
       Obviously, only books they have a lot of copies of can go missing a lot; still fun to see -- though that cover-icon graphic for each book may be a bit more than necessary (or do people really need to visualize these things nowadays ? are numbers alone too abstract ?).

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

       Falling Walls review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Upendranath Ashk's Falling Walls.

       Great to be able to cover this 1947 Hindi novel, out from Penguin India in English translation in 2015 -- but, alas, it's not so readily available in the US/UK (i.e. it was only published in India ...). Translator Daisy Rockwell has completed the second volume of this multi-volume epic (six completed, and an unfinished seventh), and perhaps when the second, or more, are out an American outlet will pick it up .....

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

3 March 2018 - Saturday

James Wood profile | 'Weltempfänger 38'

       James Wood profile

       In The Guardian Emma Brockes profiles Critic turned author James Wood: 'Sometimes I think I've lost my nerve. I'm not slaying people any more' (a title-claim I am somewhat mystified by, as Wood published his novel The Book Against God in 2003 and thus has surely long (also) been considered a bona-fide 'author').
       Among the observations:
Literary criticism has changed immensely since Wood started out, both commercially and, along with all other types of journalism, in terms of its accommodations with digital media. [...] Now, says Wood, it is hard not to write with social media in mind.
       Which doesn't sound quite right to me .....
       He has a new novel coming out (hence the profile ...), Upstate (see the Jonathan Cape publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or

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

       'Weltempfänger 38'

       Litprom is a German organization that hopes to: "select the best examples of creative writing from Africa, Asia and Latin America for translation into German, and to promote them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria", and four times a year they publish a 'Weltempfänger'-list of recommended/best titles available in German translation -- an always useful look at what's being translated into German from these areas.
       Weltempfänger 38 has just come out, and includes (just) a few that are or soon will be available in English, including Lina Meruane's Seeing Red and Mia Couto's Woman of the Ashes (published in German as Imani).

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

2 March 2018 - Friday

Translation Prizes | Ko Un, disgraced
Australian newspaper fiction | Walter Scott Prize longlist

       Translation Prizes

       The winners of the Society of Authors' 2018 Translation Prizes -- including the first-time TA First Translation Prize -- were announced yesterday.
       Confusingly, the winners of several had been previously announced -- the Vondel Prize (back in November !); the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize -- but others were only (more or less) revealed last night.
       Bela Shayevich won the TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich's Second-Hand Time.
       Only two of the winning titles are under review at the complete review -- but they're both very impressive works:

        - Scott Moncrieff Prize-winners Will McMorran and Thomas Wynn's translation of the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom

        - Premio Valle Inclán-winner Margaret Jull Costa's translation of Rafael Chirbes' On the Edge

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

       Ko Un, disgraced

       Leading South Korean poet and longtime Nobel Prize favorite Ko Un (The Three Way Tavern,etc.) is (to date) the most prominent recent example that the phenomenon of literary men behaving way beyond badly is not limited to American and European shores (whereby I suspect that it's also still only the tip of a globally emerging iceberg): in The Korea Times Kang Hyun-kyung explains Ko Un -- why it took so long for his sexual misconduct to be revealed.
       It might have taken long to become public, but his fall has been swift and sweeping:
His literary empire is poised to be dismantled as a campaign to erase his legacy is underway.
       Ko's explanation/response is also one we've heard before:
"I tried to encourage younger writers," he was quoted as saying by a daily newspaper. "If my act is seen as something akin to sexual harassment by today's standards, I think what I did was wrong and I am sorry for that."
       Whatever the eventual outcome, I think it's safe to say that Ko will not be the first Korean Nobel literature laureate; this is not a swamp the Swedish Academy wants to get sucked into.

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

       Australian newspaper fiction

       This is pretty neat: Katherine Bode got a grant to explore fiction in Australian newspapers and has uncovered a ton of forgotten writing -- because, as it turns out, an enormous amount was published in nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers, much that was never published in book form. Including, possibly/arguably, some really good stuff.
       The project site is To be continued ..., and readers are encouraged to sniff around for themselves, to see if they can find any undiscovered gems or interesting works. (It's definitely the kind of project that lends itself to crowd-sourcing.)
       See coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald (Australian National University researchers discover lost literary treasure trove, by Linda Morris) and The Canberra Times (Thousands of forgotten novels uncovered by Australian National University research into early Aussie newspapers, by Sally Pryor).

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

       Walter Scott Prize longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
       None of the shortlisted titles are under review at the complete review, but it's an interesting range that includes novels by Helen Dunmore, Jennifer Egan, Philip Kerr, and Patrick McGrath.
       The winner gets £25,000; the shortlist will be announced in April, and the winning title in mid-June.

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

1 March 2018 - Thursday

(Un)revised Ulysses in German | On the Edge review

       (Un)revised Ulysses in German

       So, for ten years they've been working on a revision of the 1975 German Hans Wollschläger translation of James Joyce's Ulysses, a team effort led by Harald Beck (who writes about it (in German) here) and, 5000 revisions and corrections later, Suhrkamp was ready to publish this in July -- see the book's publicity page.
       As you can see, it is still credited as: "Übersetzung von Hans Wollschläger". And Beck reports that Wollschläger agreed to the revised translation, back in February 2007 -- only to pass away not much later (in May). But they decided to go ahead without him -- except somebody (everybody ?) forgot to ask his literary estate for permission. And it seems that his literary executor has put her foot down, and they can't publish. Rather late in the day, the widow has decided that this interference with Wollschläger's (original) work is unacceptable .....
       Die Zeit has the (paywalled) story; boersenblatt has the summary.
       So, so much for that summer lead title at Suhrkamp ..... It will now only be available in a 200 copy limited (and not commercially available) edition, for scholarly purposes .....
       Literary estates often block new editions and translations, but it's rare to see a translator's estate block a revised translation -- I can't recall a similar case. Of course, this is presumably not so much about textual integrity and fidelity as ... well, cold, hard cash. I assume this will be resolved ... financially, eventually.
       (Unfortunately, publishers will probably take this as an example/reason not to give translators copyright in their work .....)

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

       On the Edge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Markus Werner's On the Edge.

       Haus brought this out in translation a couple of years ago, and New York Review Books published in their e-only NYRB lit-series (which ... does not seem to be going strong ?).

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

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