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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 April 2019

1 April: Poetic era coming | 'Planet Lem'
2 April: Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (1927-2019) | Sami Rohr Prize finalists | Reise nach Kalino review
3 April: Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award | Shortlists: Walter Scott - Albertine - Dylan Thomas - Goncourt du premier roman | Desmond Elliott Prize longlist
4 April: International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist | (E-)book ownership
5 April: The Complete Review at twenty | Prix de la BNF | Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist | The Resurrection of Maltravers review
7 April: Independent publishing in ... Germany | 'Authors and translators on their unique relationship' | Forgotten alternative translations | Thugs and Bottles review
8 April: Annie Ernaux Q & A | Writing in ... Kashmir | Follower review
9 April: New Asia Literary Review | Frankfurt International Translators Programme | BTBA judges details
10 April: Man Booker International Prize shortlist | Stella Prize | Griffin Poetry Prize shortlists | Rachel Cusk archive | Nádas Péter Q & A

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10 April 2019 - Wednesday

Man Booker International Prize shortlist | Stella Prize
Griffin Poetry Prize shortlists | Rachel Cusk archive | Nádas Péter Q & A

       Man Booker International Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Man Booker International Prize, and the titles left in the running are:
  • Celestial Bodies, by Jokha Alharthi; tr. Marilyn Booth
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk; tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • The Pine Islands, by Marion Poschmann; tr. Jen Calleja
  • The Remainder, by Alia Trabucco Zerán; tr. Sophie Hughes
  • The Shape Of The Ruins, by Juan Gabriel Vásquez; tr. Anne McLean
  • The Years, by Annie Ernaux; tr. Alison Strayer
       Good to see The Years make the list; I haven't seen any of the other titles.
       The winner will be announced 21 May.

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



       Stella Prize

       They've announced the winner of the 2019 Stella Prize -- the A$50,000 Australian prize that considers both fiction and non -- and it is The Erratics, a memoir by Vicki Laveau-Harvie; see also her acceptance speech -- where she notes:
The Erratics, which is my first book, has had an unusual publishing story. It won the Finch Memoir Prize in 2018, and then found itself out of print six months later, last December, when that publisher closed.
       This does not appear to be readily available in the US/UK; in Australia, it was picked up by Harper Collins after the demise of her original publisher; see also the Fourth Estate publicity page.

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



       Griffin Poetry Prize shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's Griffin Poetry Prize, a Canadian poertry prize that has an international and a Canadian category, each paying out C$65,000 to the winner.
       The judges apparently: "each read 510 books of poetry, from 32 countries, including 37 translations", and two of the four international finalists are in translation -- collections by Luljeta Lleshanaku (translated by Ani Gjika) and Kim Hyesoon (translated by Don Mee Choi).
       The winners will be announced 6 June.

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



       Rachel Cusk archive

       The Harry Ransom Center has announced the acquisition of Rachel Cusk's papers (without revealing what they paid for them ...).
       As Alison Flood notes in her report in The Guardian -- though it's not mentioned in the Ransom Center press release --:
The cache, however, contains none of her draft manuscripts, which she admitted had been used to light fires, drawn on by her children, or lost.

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



       Nádas Péter Q & A

       At hlo they've started a new series, asking: "21st century thinkers for their intellectual strategies", and first up is the Q & A with Nádas Péter (see also the Hungarian original).
       Cheery morning reading:
Regression, repetition, rehashed ideas, empty words and pestilential, petit-bourgeois pontificating all have bright futures ahead of them, as does everything in literature and the arts which has been done once, twice, five times already. Rehashed belches with genteel mannerisms. What will thrive in popular culture, meanwhile, is everything which the modern world once knew belonged in its past: mysticism, magic, tattooed bodies and tribal dances, the voluntary abandonment of an individual self, dissolving without a trace into the multitude.

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



9 April 2019 - Tuesday

New Asia Literary Review | Frankfurt International Translators Programme
BTBA judges details

       New Asia Literary Review

       Issue 36 of the Asia Literary Review is now out, summed up as 'Era Reformasi -- Indonesian Stories', with a great batch of writing from Indonesia from the past twenty years -- and it appears to all be readily accessible online !
       See Zen Hae's Introduction - Indonesian Stories -- and dig through those stories !

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



       Frankfurt International Translators Programme

       You have until 30 April to apply for this, and if you're a translator-from-German (with at least three published translations) it really sounds like you should: The Frankfurt International Translators Programme for Translators of Literature and Non-Fiction.
       The programme takes place around the Frankfurt Book Fair, 14 to 17 October, and it's a very generous pretty-much-all-expenses-paid deal (flight and up to four nights in a hotel in Frankfurt; trade visitor ticket to the Book Fair). They're selecting up to thirty translators from the German language to go.
       I look forward to hearing some of the reports from the participants in the fall.

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



       BTBA judges details

       The (US) Best Translated Book Award will announce its mammoth (25 title) longlist tomorrow, and leading up to that they've been offering a few clues at the Three Percent weblog about what will be found there.
       Today's fun feature may be the most helpful, since personal taste figures so greatly in what gets selected, and in Meet the BTBA Judges ! the judges introduce themselves and give some insight into their literary preferences -- naming: 'What is your favorite non-BTBA book that you fit into your reading these past few months ?' and, even more helpfully, their: 'Top five favorite international authors ?' (with several judges naming authors have books that are eligible for this year's list (three name Fleur Jaeggy !) ...).

       For more speculation as we come down to the wire, see also (and participate in !) the ongoing discussion at The Mookse and the Gripes' 2019 BTBA Speculation thread at Goodreads. And there's also my Translation prize anticipation-post from a month ago, for a few of my thoughts.

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



8 April 2019 - Monday

Annie Ernaux Q & A | Writing in ... Kashmir | Follower review

       Annie Ernaux Q & A

       In The Observer Kim Willsher has a Q & A with Annie Ernaux, whose The Years looks to easily be the cream of the Man Booker International Prize longlist this year.

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



       Writing in ... Kashmir

       At The Wire Mir Zeeshan reports how Amid Conflict, Young Kashmiri Writers Are Finding Solace in Literature.

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



       Follower review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eugen Ruge's recent novel, Follower: Vierzehn Sätze über einen fiktiven Enkel.
       This is apparently due out from Graywolf in English, eventually.

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



7 April 2019 - Sunday

Independent publishing in ... Germany
'Authors and translators on their unique relationship'
Forgotten alternative translations | Thugs and Bottles review

       Independent publishing in ... Germany

       At Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel wonders How do independent publishers in Germany survive ? -- especially after the recent bankruptcy of Germany's largest book wholesaler, KNV.
       She notes that:
Around 7 percent of publishers account for 95 percent of the total turnover of more than €5 billion ($5.62 billion). The remaining 93 percent are small and medium-sized independent publishers. These are often companies that are run with a lot of commitment and little money by one, two or a small group of people and that publish less than 10 books a year.
       The bankruptcy obviously hit the small publishers particularly hard; hopefully, the pain/damage will be limited.

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



       'Authors and translators on their unique relationship'

       In The Guardian Claire Armitstead looks, at some length, at 'It's a silent conversation': authors and translators on their unique relationship, with a number of examples -- an interesting overview.

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



       Forgotten alternative translations

       At the OUPblog Stuart Gillespie makes the case for Why the forgotten alternative translations of classical literature matter.
       An interesting piece -- noting also that:
the low profile of translation in English literary history (for a long time thought of as inferior to original writing) has made for slow progress here.
       And fascinating to think there is still a lot out there that should and could be made more accessible.

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



       Thugs and Bottles review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of San Antonio's Thugs and Bottles.

       'San-Antonio' (usually with the hyphen, but not on the cover of this one) is, of course, the pseudonym under which Frédéric Dard wrote his wildly popular (in French ...) series. Only a handful of these have been translated into English, and they're long out of print (while more recently Pushkin Press has published a nice little selection of his non-San-Antonio work, like Crush) -- and this one probably isn't the one to start with, since the publishers seem to have ... fallen a bit short in the English version. Still, I have a few more of these and will try to put up reviews of others -- they're really out there, and certainly not without appeal.
       These translations are about fifty years old, and I wonder if some publisher (or translator) might not be tempted to have a go at some other San-Antonio titles now -- the wordplay must be enormously tempting (while also being incredibly challenging), and they could have a lot of fun with these.

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



5 April 2019 - Friday

The Complete Review at twenty
Prix de la BNF | Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist
The Resurrection of Maltravers review

       The Complete Review at twenty

       The site went live 31 March 1999, but the first reviews (i.e. actual content) were posted at the complete review on 5 April 1999, which makes that the official start date/anniversary of the site -- yes, twenty years ago today. A relic from the previous millennium, the site has puttered along steadily ever since, with over 4300 titles now under review and (more or less -- sorry, not tomorrow) daily coverage at this Literary Saloon (that since August 2002 -- the weblog was a later addition).
       I suppose I should note and comment on the occasion -- though it's hard for me to think of it as an occasion: not much changes hereabouts, and hitting twenty doesn't come with a new batch of grand insights (even as the internet, and the literary scene and literary coverage on it, have of course been transformed over the course of these two decades). Part of what I like about the site, and what I do, is that it's more or less exactly like it always was (just with evermore reviews ...).
       The fundamentals of the site remain unchanged: aggregating and providing links to as many available book reviews, as well collecting representative quotes (as opposed to what winds up getting used for back-cover blurbs) from various review-sources; my own reviews; as well as (at this Literary Saloon), pointers to and occasional commentary about the literary news of the day.
       For a while I also maintained the complete review Quarterly, but that was impossible to sustain in any meaningful form. In particular, I soon found that that I had little interest in functioning in any sort of editorial capacity -- hence also the site has become even more 'my' site: my reviews, my interests, my voice. I believe (in other words: tell myself) the site has benefitted from the narrower (and, I suppose, more personal) focus.
       The greatest frustration I've found is the impermanence of the internet, which I have to admit took me by surprise. I had expected to essentially be able to simply build up a library of pages and links, with curation of posted pages limited to going back to add links to new reviews and coverage, or new editions or translations of a title, as they appeared; instead, links need constant revision. I did not expect to have to spend as much of my time updating and weeding out links, and continue to be shocked and disappointed by the vast amount of information -- reviews and other material -- that is no longer readily available (i.e. is/was only temporarily available). (Some lingers on at the invaluable Internet Archive / waybackmachine, but rooting through that is also arduous.) I suspect that less than 10 per cent of the original links to pages I linked to in 1999 still work -- and that the percentage of pages I link to now that will still be accessible at the same URL twenty years from now will only be slightly higher. Updating links remains a Sisyphean task (all the more frustrating because the top of that mountain (indeed, mountain range) is never even visible ...). Even where sites maintain information -- i.e. the pages continue to exist online -- it remains bafflingly popular to change URLs, far too often still without forwarding capacity, leaving links to nowhere (i.e. 404) pages. I continue to curse (daily) all site re-designs that fail to take inbound links into account (i.e. most of them) -- and publishers' constant fiddling with their sites has been a constant source of aggravation.
       When I started the site, it seemed to me that coverage of and interest in fiction in translation had diminished to ridiculously low levels in the US (and probably the UK, too), and I did shift the original, more general focus of the site more in that direction; I note with relief that ca. 2000 was probably the nadir, and it's nice to see how things have improved and that there's so much more interest and activity (and sites and pages to link to) in that area now. Books in translation are perhaps still a bit of a niche-area, but at least it's a much, much larger one now.
       It's gratifying to see continuing great interest, from around the world, in the site and what's on offer here, and I'm glad to see that the complete review continues to be of interest and use to a large and very diverse readership.
       As to the future -- well, I daren't look ahead twenty more years, but for now see no reason why it shouldn't ... putter along as usual for the foreseeable future.
       Onward to the 5000th review !

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



       Prix de la BNF

       The Bibliothèque nationale de France has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) that their prix de la BNF -- a €10,000 French author- (as opposed to book-)prize -- this year goes to Apocalypse Baby-author Virginie Despentes; see also the LivresHebdo report.
       The prize has been awarded since 2009 and has a solid (if rather male-dominated) list of winners that includes Patrick Modiano, Milan Kundera, and Michel Houellebecq.

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



       Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Rathbones Folio Prize, the £30,000 sort of Man Booker alternative prize (for which, however, works of non-fiction are also eligible).
       Anna Burns' Milkman is in the running for this, too, and the winner will be announced 20 May.

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



       The Resurrection of Maltravers review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alexander Lernet-Holenia's 1936 novel The Resurrection of Maltravers, which came out in English in a nice Eridanos Library-edition in the late 1980s.

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



4 April 2019 - Thursday

International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist | (E-)book ownership

       International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's International DUBLIN Literary Award -- an award that considers books available in English, whether originally written in it or translated, with libraries from around (parts of ...) the world nominating the titles to be considered; the prize pays out an impressive €100,000.
       The ten finalists are:
  • A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
  • Compass by Mathias Énard, tr. Charlotte Mandell
  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  • Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
  • Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
       (The way the prize works means it generally lags a season or two behind what's current on the US/UK market (hence, for example, books familiar from the 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist (the McGregor, Fridlund, Hamid, and winner Saunders) only now are in the running for this one).)
       Usually dependably including quite a few books in translation -- last year it was 6 out of 10 -- somehow only one title in translation made it (while 39 of the 141 longlisted titles were translations). Kind of disappointing -- and with three Man Booker Prize 2017 finalists among the final ten (as well as one more title that made the longlist that year) the prize certainly doesn't have its usual distinctive look this year (and instead has quite pronounced retread feel).
       The winner will be announced 12 June.

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



       (E-)book ownership

       As has been widely noted, Microsoft closed down its ebooks 'category' a few days ago: they no longer sell or support ebooks at the Microsoft Store. That, itself isn't much of an issue -- but some of the consequences are.
       As far too many readers seem unaware, when you 'purchase' an ebook, you're almost never actually buying it in any physical-electronic form, but rather you're paying for a use-license, with the seller still having ultimate control -- forever. And so, as Microsoft helpfully explains to consumers who relied on the company and its products:
What happens to books I've already purchased ?

You can continue to read books you've purchased until July 2019 when they will no longer be available, and you will receive a full refund of the original purchase price.
       Yes, you get your money back -- but your books are all gone .....
       This is the reason I have never -- and can't imagine ever -- 'purchasing' an ebook on Amazon (on Kindle) or on any of the other usual platforms. (Same with music downloads, which generally operate under a similar principle.)
       Ownership may arguably be overrated, but I like to have control over these kinds of things -- I like them to be mine. I do (reluctantly) read etexts -- and do occasionally download free temporary ones (library ebooks, or, in extremis, from one of the book-industry book preview providers such as the abomination that is Edelweiss) -- but would never pay for access that isn't mine for ever and always.
       Not everyone seems to think this is a big deal (Alex Cranz reports that Microsoft Nukes Its Ebooks Store, and That's Probably for the Best and thinks: "that's great" (because it means Microsoft is: "is focusing and recognizing that even an enormous tech company with billions of devices in the wild cannot be everywhere and cannot touch every facet of your life" -- collateral consumer damage apparently be damned)). Me, I still like the idea that when a company sells you something it'll stand behind that -- though of course in the software world that's always been anything but the case. But boing boing gets it.

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



3 April 2019 - Wednesday

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Shortlists: Walter Scott - Albertine - Dylan Thomas - Goncourt du premier roman
Desmond Elliott Prize longlist

       Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

       They've announced that this year's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award -- "the largest international children's and young adult literature award in the world", paying out SEK 5 million (over half a million dollars) -- goes to Flemish author Bart Moeyaert.
       Though some of his books have been translated into English he doesn't really seem to have broken through in the US/UK markets yet; it'll be interesting to see if this changes that.
       See also his official site.

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



       Shortlist: Walter Scott Prize

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
       Finalists for this £25,000 prize include books by Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje, while Robin Robertson's Man Booker Prize finalist, The Long Take -- a verse-noir -- also is among the final six.
       The winner will be announced 15 June.

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



       Shortlist: Albertine Prize

       The Albertine Prize is a prize where Lydia Davis, François Busnel, the staff of the wonderful Albertine bookstore in New York, and the Book Department of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy (in the US) select a shortlist of five titles translated from the French in the past year, with readers then voting for the winner. (The author and translator share the US$10,000 prize -- though it's a strongly writer-favoring 80:20 split.)
       They've now announced the five finalists (and opened voting -- you can vote through 30 April):
  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, tr. Tina Kover

  • The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard, tr. Mark Polizzotti

  • The Perfect Nanny (published in the UK as: Lullaby), by Leïla Slimani, tr. Sam Taylor

  • Small Country by Gaël Faye, tr. Sarah Ardizzone

  • Waiting for Tomorrow by Nathacha Appanah, tr. Geoffrey Strachan
       The winner will be announced 5 June.

       (Updated - 4 April): At the Literary Hub you can now Meet the Shortlisted Writers for the 2019 Albertine Prize -- short Q & As with the finalists.

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



       Shortlist: Dylan Thomas Prize

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, "awarded to the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under" and paying out £30,000.
       The winner will be announced 16 May.

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



       Shortlist: Goncourt du premier roman

       They've announced the five finalists for the prix Goncourt du premier roman -- not the 'big' Goncourt, but the still prestigious one for a first novel --; see, for example, the LivresHebdo report. (The information is also there on the official site, but not in particularly prominent (much less linkable-to) position.)
       The winner will be announced 7 May.

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



       Desmond Elliott Prize longlist

       They've announced the ten-title strong longlist for this year's Desmond Elliott Prize, a £10,000 prize for debut novels written in English and published in the UK.
       The shortlist will be announced on 10 May, and the winner on 19 June.

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



2 April 2019 - Tuesday

Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (1927-2019)
Sami Rohr Prize finalists | Reise nach Kalino review

       Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (1927-2019)

       Spanish author Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio -- awarded the Cervantes Prize, the leading Spanish-language-author prize, in 2004 -- has passed away; see, for example, the El País report, Muere Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, maestro singular de las letras españolas, a los 91 años.
       His two best-known works are available in translations by Margaret Jull Costa (!) from Dedalus: The Adventures of the Ingenious Alfanhuí (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and The River (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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



       Sami Rohr Prize finalists

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the finalists for this year's Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, a prize that alternates between fiction and non and: "honors emerging writers who explore the Jewish experience and demonstrate the potential for continued contribution to Jewish literature" (with a very tidy payout for the winner of US$100,000, as well as generous support for runner-up and the other finalists).
       This year is a fiction year; among this year's finalists is The Elegant Variation-lit-blogger from way back when, Mark Sarvas, for his Memento Park.
       The winner will be announced "at the beginning of May".

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



       Reise nach Kalino review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Radek Knapp's 2012 novel, Reise nach Kalino -- the third Knapp work under review, and yet another not-translated-into-English one .....

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



1 April 2019 - Monday

Poetic era coming | 'Planet Lem'

       Poetic era coming

       With the ascension of a new emperor in Japan (yes, absurdly they still have one of those there) next month, as Akihito, currently in that position, is abdicating at the end of April, comes a new era-name in Japan after thirty years of Heisei, and the official big reveal came today: his successor Naruhito's time will be known as the Reiwa (令和) era.
       Tradition has been to choose era-names from Chinese classics, but this time it's drawn from the Japanese poetry-collection, the Manyoshu (see Michael Hoffman's overview of that work in The Japan Times); in Japan Today, in Abe explains choice of Reiwa for next era name, Mari Yamaguchi reports:
Abe said the name means that culture is born and grows when people come together and "care for each other beautifully."
       In The Guardian Justin McCurry reports Reiwa: Japan prepares to enter new era of 'fortunate harmony' and translates from the official announcement:
The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the term "symbolises our nation's profound public culture and long tradition".

He added: "Just like amazing plum flowers in full bloom that signal the arrival of spring after bitter cold, each and every Japanese person can hope for the future and make their own flowers blossom.
       The name needed approval from the Japanese cabinet.
       In The Japan Times they also helpfully offer twitter-reactions, in Twitter has its say about Reiwa, Japan's new era name.

       (Updated - 3 April): Era-naming coverage continues unabated in Japan with reveals such as: Gov't source admits Japanese literature expert Susumu Nakanishi proposed new era name (in The Mainichi) and Four new era names the Japanese government rejected before deciding on Reiwa (at SoraNews24). It could have been a 'Banna'(万和)-era !

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



       'Planet Lem'

       They've been planning to build a Centrum Literatury i Języka -- a center for literature and language -- in Krakow, to be known as 'Planet Lem' (already with its own official site) for a while now -- see, for example, this good overview -- and they've now announced the winners of the architectural competition to design the building, with JEMS Architekci getting the nod.
       In The first News Anne Chatham reports on the plans and designs, in Trendy Kraków district to house futuristic literature centre in honour of sci-fi writer Stanisław Lem; more pictures and plans can be found in the afasisa archzine report.
       Looks promising -- but we'll have to wait until 2023 for it to be finished and accessible.

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



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