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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 15 October 2018

11 October: Nobel-less day | (American) National Book Awards shortlists | DSC Prize longlist | Paris Nocturne review
12 October: '100 German must-reads' | Seven Sixes are Forty-Three review
13 October: Korean v. Japanese fiction | Javier Marías Q & As | The 'New Academy Prize in Literature'
14 October: French inequality-lit | Literature in ... Saudi Arabia | Aniara review
15 October: Publishing poetry in ... India | Say: cheese ... say what ? | Iva Pekárková Q & A

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15 October 2018 - Monday

Publishing poetry in ... India | Say: cheese ... say what ? | Iva Pekárková Q & A

       Publishing poetry in ... India

       At Kanishka Gupta has a Q & A with five Indian publishers of poetry, in The flag-bearers of verse: How five independent presses publish poetry in India.
       Among the observations: one publisher maintains:
I don't want poetry books to be bestsellers. For, if you sell more, that means you are resonating with the mainstream. Poetry is the voice from the outside. Its survival depends on resisting the mainstream.
       Lots of interesting questions and responses.

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

       Say: cheese ... say what ?

       I'm all for pushing boundaries with form and content, but I'm not sure about Ben Denzer's American Cheese, 20 Slices. At Saveur University of Michigan librarian Jamie Lausch Vander Broek writes about spending US$200 on a copy (of the limited edition of ten), in You Can Check Out an Actual Cheese Book at this Michigan Library.
       The headline exaggerates a bit -- the library listing says it is for: 'Building use only' (and by appointment, at that) -- but the essence is apparently true: it's described as: "Twenty individually wrapped slices of Kraft American cheese bound together".
       What's truly scary:
We won't be storing the cheese book in the fridge; according to our head of conservation, American singles are basically shelf stable.
       (People consume this stuff ? Voluntarily ?)
       There are only ten copies -- no ISBN, no Amazon listing ... -- but don't tell the kids about it, they'll want to make their own ..... (But you're not feeding this stuff to them anyway, are you ?)

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

       Iva Pekárková Q & A

       After the Soviet collapse, Iva Pekárková was briefly pretty hot in English, with several works translated in the 1990s and 2000, but it's been pretty quiet (in English) since then. At Radio Praha she resurfaces, in a Q & A with Brian Kenety.

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

14 October 2018 - Sunday

French inequality-lit | Literature in ... Saudi Arabia | Aniara review

       French inequality-lit

       Eurozine has Nicolas Léger's piece on The literature of inequality, as he finds:
French literature of the early twenty-first century has produced something like a cartography and genealogy of inequality, both economic and social.

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

       Literature in ... Saudi Arabia

       In The Arab Weekly Zaki al-Soudeir profiles Saad Albazei, in Saudi literary critic: 'Fight against extremism continues'.
       The piece opens:
Literary critic Saad Albazei says there are literary efforts in Saudi Arabia to document and keep up with current developments in the country.
       I'm not quite sure they're up to the challenge, especially considering recent events .....

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

       Aniara review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of (controversial) 1974 Nobel laureate Harry Martinson's Aniara: A Review of Man in Time and Space -- a rare work of science fiction in verse.

       This has not only been made into an opera, but there's a new movie-version just out; not sure this will make it to your local cineplex, but see the trailer.

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

13 October 2018 - Saturday

Korean v. Japanese fiction | Javier Marías Q & As
The 'New Academy Prize in Literature'

       Korean v. Japanese fiction

       In many countries there have long been complaints about English-language popular fiction taking over the local book market -- and leaving less room for domestic authors -- but in South Korea they apparently are more concerned about fiction from closer to home. Apparently, as Kang Hyun-kyung reports in The Korea Times in Highbrow vs. lowbrow literature:
Goh Gwang-ryul, a novelist, said the "unproductive highbrow vs. lowbrow literature debate" in Korean literary circles can partly explain how Japanese fiction has been pushing Korean writers out of business.

He said Japanese writers are able to meet the changing tastes of Korean readers as they produce readable books, whereas Koreans fail to do so because of the hypocrisy of literary critics.
Local literary critics see middlebrow fiction as something derogatory and lower-class literature, Goh said.

"Their arrogance and downplaying of middlebrow books is related to the sluggish book sales of Korean fiction. They exert enormous influence on publishers. They make or break publication of certain books."
       Hey, literary critics actually having an influence on the book market !

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

       Javier Marías Q & As

       Javier Marías' Berta Isla is just out in the UK -- get your copy at -- and at The Guardian he answers questions in the 'Books that made me'-column.
       Among his responses:
The book that changed my life
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne, as I translated it into Spanish when I was about 25. It took me two years.
       Translation as making the writer ! (See also Gareth J. Wood's fascinating Javier Marías's Debt to Translation.)

       Meanwhile, at The Paris Review's the Daily weblog Michael LaPointe also has a Q & A with Marías.

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

       The 'New Academy Prize in Literature'

       They've announced that Maryse Condé will receive the New Academy Prize in Literature, the one-time would-be Nobel Prize in Literature stand-in.
       Good for her -- a deserving winner --, getting the attention and cash.
       The only title of hers under review at the complete review is her memoir, What is Africa to Me ? but her fiction is certainly worth checking out too.

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

12 October 2018 - Friday

'100 German must-reads' | Seven Sixes are Forty-Three review

       '100 German must-reads'

       Deutsche Welle has made up what they call: 'the ultimate list of German-language books [published since 1900] translated into English'; see Reading Matter ? 100 German Must-Reads ! with links to more information about all the titles, or a pdf of the 100 German Must-Reads; see also their explanation, 100 German must-reads: The story behind the project.
       The limitations -- post-1900 titles, translated into English, and one book per author -- make for a ... somewhat limited list (though it does get a lot of the big titles); it also skews recent and popular.
       Quite a few of the titles are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Seven Sixes are Forty-Three review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kiran Nagarkar's 1974 novel, Seven Sixes are Forty-Three.

       This is the first translation from the Marathi under review at the complete review.

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

11 October 2018 - Thursday

Nobel-less day | (American) National Book Awards shortlists
DSC Prize longlist | Paris Nocturne review

       Nobel-less day

       Maybe they would have already announced it last Thursday, but today probably would have been the day they revealed the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature -- but since the prize-deciding Swedish Academy imploded earlier this year we've known for a while that there would be no announcement this October. The plan is now to announce both the 2018 and 2019 winners next year -- although the way things are going, who knows whether or not they'll be able to pull that off; even if they do, it will hardly make for twice the fun.
       The one-off fill-in 'The New Academy Prize in Literature' will announce its winner tomorrow, but it's a pretty sorry substitute -- and, with the low stakes (not much prestige to be had here, unlike the tradition-steeped Nobel) and the three finalists known (the fourth, Murakami Haruki, having pulled out), there's none of the frenzied guessing (and betting) action that accompanies the last days and hours before the the Nobel announcement. (Of course, at least this prize won't surprise with a selection like ... Bob Dylan, either, so at least there's that.)
       I kind of miss the Nobel nonsense -- and Nobel-announcement day is always the day which brings by far the most traffic to the complete review -- but I'm glad to be able to devote the time I'd otherwise have spent on it reading and writing instead. (And it's not like there aren't enough other prizes to keep track of at this time of year .....)

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

       (American) National Book Awards shortlists

       The (American) National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards -- including the finalists for the Translated Literature prize:
  • Disoriental, by Négar Djavadi, tr. by Tina Kover

  • The Emissary, by Tawada Yoko, tr. by Margaret Mitsutani

  • Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk, tr. by Jennifer Croft

  • Love, by Hanne Ørstavik, tr. by Martin Aitken

  • Trick, by Domenico Starnone, tr. by Jhumpa Lahiri
       The winners will be announced 14 November.

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

       DSC Prize longlist

       They've announced the sixteen-title longlist for this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, selected from 88 submissions; it includes four titles in translation (from Assamese, Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi).
       I've only seen two of these, with many of the titles (and all the translations) not (yet) out in the US/UK.
       The shortlist will be announced 14 November.

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

       Paris Nocturne review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano's Paris Nocturne.

       This one has been out from Yale University Press in their Margellos World Republic of Letters series for a couple of years now, but the next -- Sleep of Memory -- is due out next week; I should be getting to that one soon, too.

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

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