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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2019

1 June: Translation from the ... Albanian | Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire | Sleepless Summer review
2 June: Online literature in ... China | EU-China Literary Festival | Exemplary Departures reviews
3 June: Премия 'Национальный бестселлер' | BookExpo 2019
4 June: Binooki profile | Térey János (1970-2019) | I Have No Regrets review
5 June: Murakami Q & A | Frankfurt Book Fair Guest of Honour 2019
6 June: Literary prizes: Prix Jean d'Ormesson - Women's Prize for Fiction - Albertine Prize | Le crime du comte Neville review
7 June: Griffin Poetry Prizes | The Book of Collateral Damage review
8 June: Hedge fund buys Barnes & Noble | Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir profile
9 June: Daniel Rondeau elected to Académie française | The Memory Police review
10 June: Étonnants Voyageurs prizes | Orwell Prizes shortlists

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10 June 2019 - Monday

Étonnants Voyageurs prizes | Orwell Prizes shortlists

       Étonnants Voyageurs prizes

       At the Étonnants Voyageurs festival they hand out a number of prizes.
       Among those now announced is the Prix Ouest-France Étonnants Voyageurs, which went to Des hommes couleur de ciel, by Anaïs LLobet (yes, that's how the name is written; see also the Éditions de l'Observatoire publicity page); previous winners include Alain Mabanckou's Broken Glass and books by Lola Lafon and Ananda Devi.
       They've also announced the winners of the Prix AFD-Littérature monde -- Trois concerts, by Lola Gruber -- and the Prix AFD-Littérature monde étranger, The Wild Inside, by Jamey Bradbury.

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



       Orwell Prizes shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's Orwell Prizes, including the six titles shortlisted for the inaugural Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
       The winners will be announced 25 June.

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



9 June 2019 - Sunday

Daniel Rondeau elected to Académie française | The Memory Police review

       Daniel Rondeau elected to Académie française

       Michel Déon passed away in 2016, vacating fauteuil 8 at the Académie française; a vote to fill the seat in February had all the candidates (including Charles Dantzig) fall short; a new vote on Thursday, with another set of candidates, saw Daniel Rondeau easily get in on the first round of voting; 35 of the 40 fauteuils are now filled.
       Rondeau has published quite a lot, but it doesn't appear anything has been translated into English.
       I also suspect he's the first immortel where the announcement of his being accepted into the Academie makes such prominent mention of how close he was to ... Johnny Hallyday. (Really prominent, like in the headlines: e.g. Daniel Rondeau : un fan de Johnny Hallyday élu à l’Académie française and Daniel Rondeau, ami de Johnny Hallyday, élu à l'Académie française.)
       Okay, true, in (large) part that's certainly on him .....

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



       The Memory Police review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ogawa Yoko's The Memory Police, coming in August (from Pantheon in the US and Harvill Secker in the UK).
       This is the fifth Ogawa to be translated into English -- but that's still only such a small portion of her output. (All five translated titles are under review at the complete review; so are five that aren't available in English yet; the Germans, and especially the French, are way ahead of US/UK publishers .....)
       This is a 1994 work, one of her earlier novels, and certainly great to see -- but it's about time we see some of her more recent work, too .....

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



8 June 2019 - Saturday

Hedge fund buys Barnes & Noble | Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir profile

       Hedge fund buys Barnes & Noble

       As long troubled but still (bricks and mortar) market-leading US bookseller Barnes & Noble has announced, Barnes & Noble to Be Acquired by Elliott, Owner of Waterstones, Bringing Together the Leading Booksellers in the US and the UK, as they've been bought, "in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683 million" by Elliott Advisors (part of Elliott Management), who acquired British bookseller Waterstones last year.
       James Daunt, who was installed as CEO of Waterstones, "will assume also the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble" -- though somehow the two companies are expected to: "operate independently".

       (Updated - 11 June): See also Philip Jones on Jimmy six-hundred: Mr Daunt goes to New York in The Bookseller.

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



       Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir profile

       At Reykjavík Grapevine Hannah Jane Cohen profiles, at some length, Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir: There's No Such Thing As An Innocent Text.
       Several of Auður's works have been translated into English (and many other languages), including the Nordic Council Literary Prize-winning Hotel Silence.

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



7 June 2019 - Friday

Griffin Poetry Prizes | The Book of Collateral Damage review

       Griffin Poetry Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's Griffin Poetry Prizes.
       The International winner is Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi.
       The Canadian winner is Quarrels by Eve Joseph.

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



       The Book of Collateral Damage review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sinan Antoon's The Book of Collateral Damage, just out in Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters.

       I'm a bit surprised this hasn't gotten more attention (yet) -- though surely some will come.

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



6 June 2019 - Thursday

Literary prizes: Prix Jean d'Ormesson - Women's Prize for Fiction - Albertine Prize
Le crime du comte Neville review

       Literary prize: Prix Jean d'Ormesson

       They've announced the winner of the prix Jean d'Ormesson, awarded for the second time this year and one of my favorite literary prizes because basically it's a judges' free-for-all: they can nominate pretty much any book, published at any time, for the prize and so the initial round included Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, Ivo Andrić's The Bridge on the Drina, Juan Rulfo's Pedro Páramo, and San-Antonio's Faut-il tuer les petits garçons qui ont les mains sur les hanches ?
       So it's almost a bit disappointing that the winner is ... Julian Barnes' The Only Story; see the Livres Hebdo report; see also the publicity pages from Vintage (UK) and Vintage (US), or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Literary prize: Women's Prize for Fiction

       They've announced the winner of this year's Women's Prize for Fiction, a £30,000 prize "awarded annually to the woman who, in the opinion of the judges, has written the best, eligible full-length novel in English", and it is An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones; see also the Oneworld publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Literary prize: Albertine Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Albertine Prize, honoring: "American readers' favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction that has been translated into English and published in the US within the preceding calendar year", and it is Disoriental by Négar Djavadi.

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



       Le crime du comte Neville review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's Le crime du comte Neville.

       That's the 24th Nothomb under review at the site -- still a few short of her complete output (with the next one, Soif, due out 21 August; see the Albin Michel publicity page).

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



5 June 2019 - Wednesday

Murakami Q & A | Frankfurt Book Fair Guest of Honour 2019

       Murakami Q & A

       On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his debut novel Hear the Wind Sing Kyodo News has a lengthy (three page) Q & A with Murakami Haruki, by Yutaka Yukawa and Tetsuro Koyama, Haruki Murakami looks back over 40 years of literary endeavors -- with a lot about Killing Commendatore.
       Murakami explains how he's lasted for four decades:
I had a turning point every 10 years. And at each point, my writing style and the type of stories changed. I was never bored with writing. There was always a new goal. I think that was a good thing.

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



       Frankfurt Book Fair Guest of Honour 2019

       Norway will be the Guest of Honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair (16 to 20 October); they had a press conference yesterday introducing their pavilion-concept and the authors who will be in attendance.
       Not much information that's readily accessible, but see the brief NORLA summing up and bookmark the useful official site, where there's a steady flow of interesting information/news.

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



4 June 2019 - Tuesday

Binooki profile | Térey János (1970-2019)
I Have No Regrets review

       Binooki profile

       At Qantara.de Ulrich von Schwerin profiles "niche publishing house" binooki which specializes in modern Turkish literature in translation, in Cultural rapprochement hamstrung by Erdogan.
       As noted, among the books they've published is Oğuz Atay's The Disconnected -- this: "important touchstone for many younger authors".

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



       Térey János (1970-2019)

       As hlo reports, János Térey Has Passed Away Age 49.
       While he seems to be very highly regarded in Hungary, not much of his work is available in translation -- but (nudged by) taking a closer look at some of the information it sounds like some of his work really should be translated: at the end of the hlo piece they have links to a few excerpts, and the Sárközy & Co. Literary Agency pages have more information about several of his titles -- like the 403-page novel-in-verse Protocol, "not just a portrait of Budapest after the turn of the millennium, but of the world of globalised politics at the same time". Novels in verse ! I'm always intrigued by those .....

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



       I Have No Regrets review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Brigitte Reimann's Diaries, 1955-1963, I Have No Regrets, just out from Seagull Books.

       I've always had something of a soft spot for East German literature, and Reimann is certainly one of the must-read authors of that era; amazingly, none of her work appears to have been translated into English yet -- not even her classic Franziska Linkerhand, one of the iconic novels of the GDR (and college GDR-literature-course staple). (I gobbled up her books back in the 1980s -- so I actually haven't read the new, unabridged edition of Franziska Linkerhand, which only came out in 1998; Ill have to pick that up.)
       I'm not that big on diaries, but Reimann and the East German literary scene ... of course I've immediately ordered the 1964-1970 diaries .....

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



3 June 2019 - Monday

Премия 'Национальный бестселлер' | BookExpo 2019

       Премия 'Национальный бестселлер'

       As reported at Lizok's Bookshelf, they've announced the winner of this year's Russian 'National Bestseller' award -- also called/known as (as if that made it any better ...) the NatsBest Prize; it is Финист - ясный сокол, by Andrey Rubanov; see also the АСТ publicity page.
       Rubanov's earlier Do Time Get Time has been published in English; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       BookExpo 2019

       Last week they held BookExpo 2019, the big American industry get-together.
       Publishers Weekly has lots of coverage of it, including Jim Milliot on Books Are the Stars at BookExpo 2019, Claire Kirch reporting that Literary Fiction Gets the Buzz, and Chad Post on Finding an Audience for Books in Translation.

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



2 June 2019 - Sunday

Online literature in ... China | EU-China Literary Festival
Exemplary Departures reviews

       Online literature in ... China

       As I've often noted, online literature appears to be very popular in China, with several online-writers among the highest earners among Chinese authors.
       Tencent off-shoot China Literature was a huge IPO in 2017 and is one of the big (huge) platforms for writers; "As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 7.7 million writers and 11.2 million online literary works" -- but the stock has fared poorly and now there are new investor concern: as Bloomberg reports, Tencent's China Literature Sinks Amid Nation's Content Crackdown.
       This would seem to have been an obvious concern from the beginning; it'll be interesting to see what the long term implications/consequences are, both on the business model as well as on what is written/published online.

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



       EU-China Literary Festival

       The fourth EU-China Literary Festival continues through this week; an interesting idea, with some intriguing-sounding events.

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



       Exemplary Departures reviews

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gabrielle Wittkop's collection of five Exemplary Departures, published by Wakefield Press.

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



1 June 2019 - Saturday

Translation from the ... Albanian | Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire
Sleepless Summer review

       Translation from the ... Albanian

       In the Tirana Times they report that the Culture Ministry freezes translation and composition funds, quoting writer Pandeli Koçi wondering:
What other means will the ministry use to encourage this activity that is vital to Albanian culture ? The ministry needs to clarify why there is no funding is available so far, and the secondly, what it plans to fund this practice
       Given how much better countries/languages that (heavily) subsidize translations do, this would seem to be an investment to consider. Shockingly, the Translation Database lists all of four translations of works of fiction from the Albanian into English for the entire period 2008 to 2019, and while there might be more that aren't listed, clearly Albanian is not very well represented in English. (All of those that are listed are under review at the complete review: three by Ismail Kadare (The Accident, A Girl in Exile, and The Traitor's Niche) and Ornela Vorpsi's The Country Where No One Ever Dies.)
       Menwhile, you are at least pretty well covered with Robert Elsie's Albanian Literature site.

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



       Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire

       They've announced this year's Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire winners, a leading French science fiction award.
       Patrick K. Dewdney's two books making up his Le Cycle de Syffe won best French novel, while the translation of Ben H. Winters' Underground Airlines won best foreign novel, a category in which all the finalists were translations from the English; oddly, Underground Airlines was not even a finalist for the best translation prize (the prix Jacques Chambon), which went to the translation of Neal Stephenson's Anathem.

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



       Sleepless Summer review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bram Dehouck's Sleepless Summer, out in time for some sleepless summer reading from World Editions.

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



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