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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 January 2020

21 January: Jaipur Literature Festival | The Sleeping-Car Murders review
22 January: The book market in ... Vietnam | Prix Mémorable
23 January: Judging the DSC Prize | Charco Press Q & A | Edgar Awards finalists | The Sweet Indifference of the World review
24 January: Prix du Livre étranger France Inter/JDD | 'Best Iris Murdoch Books'
25 January: Japanese Booksellers Award finalists | Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist | Dylan Thomas Prize longlist
26 January: New Japanese golden literary age ? | Abigail review
27 January: Peter Stamm Q & A | Romain Rolland Book Prize | Awater Poëzieprijs
28 January: Hubert Mingarelli (1956-2020) | Balkan fiction | Akhenaten reviews
29 January: PEN America Literary Awards finalists | Whitbread Costa Book of the Year | Translator Q & A
30 January: Anne Serre Q & A | The Last Days of El Comandante review
31 January: Christoph Meckel (1935-2020) | Why Read ? review

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31 January 2020 - Friday

Christoph Meckel (1935-2020) | Why Read ? review

       Christoph Meckel (1935-2020)

       German author Christoph Meckel has passed away; see, for example, the (German) report in Die Zeit.
       The selected-prose collection The Figure on the Boundary Line appears to be the only available translation; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Hanser brought out his collected poetry a few years ago -- 29 collections in one nearly thousand-page book, Tarnkappe; see the Hanser foreign rights page.

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



       Why Read ? review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Charles Dantzig's Why Read ?
       I actually did not realize there was an English translation of this available until I reviewed the book -- but then the English translation came out from not a US or UK publisher but an Indian one, Yoda Press (good for them -- but too bad there's no US/UK distribution).
       It's obviously a book of interest to me -- reading is something I spend ... some time doing (and, hey, I spoke on the subject at the Salzburg Festival last year) -- and, I would imagine, many of the users of this site.
       I've also been enjoying Dantzig's Dictionnaire égoïste de la littérature française (see the Le Livre de Poche publicity page) for quite a while now -- a great big book to dip into -- and hope to cover it at some point as well. And now I'm also really eager to see his recent international companion volume, the Dictionnaire égoïste de la littérature mondiale (see the Grasset publicity page).

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



30 January 2020 - Thursday

Anne Serre Q & A | The Last Days of El Comandante review

       Anne Serre Q & A

       At the Asymptote blog Tristan Foster offers Fiction as Seduction: An Interview with Anne Serre -- the author of The Governesses.

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



       The Last Days of El Comandante review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alberto Barrera Tyszka's Hugo Chávez-novel, The Last Days of El Comandante.

       This came out last year in the UK -- to surprisingly little media attention; I would have thought a Venezuelan novel about Chávez would have gotten more coverage. It's only coming out in the US next month -- and it will be interesting to see whether it gets more attention then.
       Interesting, also, that in the UK it was published by a commercial publisher -- MacLehose Press -- but in the US it is coming out from a university press, University of Texas Press. (It is part of their Latin American Literature in Translation-series, which is certainly developing nicely; of course, I still recall Texas Tech University Press' promising 'The Americas'-series, but that seems to have ... expired (see also the Three Percent post, Let Us Now Praise Texas Tech's "The Americas" Series (which closes, sigh: "With a brilliant advisory board I have a lot of faith in the future of this series")).)

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



29 January 2020 - Wednesday

PEN America Literary Awards finalists | Whitbread Costa Book of the Year
Translator Q & A

       PEN America Literary Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's PEN America Literary Awards
       Among the categories is the PEN Translation Prize; the only one of the finalists under review at the complete review is Allison Markin Powell's translation of Kawakami Hiromi's The Ten Loves of Nishino -- though I do have several more of these and may get to them.
       The winners will be announced 2 March.

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



       Whitbread Costa Book of the Year

       They've announced the Costa Book of the Year -- selected from the five category winners -- and it is the biography award winner, The Volunteer, by Jack Fairweather.
       See also the Custom House publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Translator Q & A

       In The Dispatch they have: "the first part of an interview series featuring literary translators" -- Chirdeep Malhotra's Q & A with translator-from-the-Malayalam J. Devika.
       Great to hear:
The best work in Malayalam is being translated into English and Malayali authors are gaining visibility like never before. When I see K.R. Meera and Unni R. being discussed as Indian authors rather than as just Malayali, a warm feeling overcomes me ! Indeed, even some of the less gifted authors in Malayalam have actually done much better in their English versions, thanks to imaginative translators.
       Though of course it would be nice if more of these were published or at least better distributed in the US/UK .....
       Also interesting to hear:
From other languages to Malayalam, yes, there is a lot happening in that direction too, but the quality of it is often abysmally poor, and the choices of texts are too often driven by crass market considerations. For example Malayalis have a love for Latin American literature, so any trash that gets hyped as ‘Latin American’ highbrow gets (badly) translated here.
       I look forward to seeing the next Q & A in this series.

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



28 January 2020 - Tuesday

Hubert Mingarelli (1956-2020) | Balkan fiction | Akhenaten reviews

       Hubert Mingarelli (1956-2020)

       French writer Hubert Mingarelli has passed away; see, for example, the obituary in Le Figaro.
       Several of his works have been translated into English, including the prix Médicis-winning Four Soldiers; see the New Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Balkan fiction

       At Eurozine Katerina Luketić looks at recent Balkan fiction Between poetry and politics -- finding that: "following Kiš, Balkan novelists are challenging received wisdom and integrating the political and the poetic in surprising new ways".

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



       Akhenaten reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two novels that try to capture the life of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten:
  • Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth, by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz -- the 26th work by Mahfouz under review at the complete review (and I am amazed by how many of his major works I still haven't gotten to ...).

  • Dorothy Porter's novel-in-verse, Akhenaten

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



27 January 2020 - Monday

Peter Stamm Q & A | Romain Rolland Book Prize | Awater Poëzieprijs

       Peter Stamm Q & A

       Peter Stamm's The Sweet Indifference of the World is just out in English, and in the Boston Globe Amy Sutherland has a Q & A with him, Swiss novelist Peter Stamm not always in it for the long haul.

       Several of the titles he mentioned are under review at the complete review: T Singer by Dag Solstad ("Hes also doing crazy stuff"), Snow by Orhan Pamuk ("When I finally got over the first 50 pages, I liked the length because it was like living in a different world"), and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen ("I got so pissed off. I like his journalism much better.") As are three books by Markus Werner -- "He wrote small books, which probably were not thick enough for an American market" --: Cold Shoulder, On the Edge, and Zündel's Exit.

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



       Romain Rolland Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Romain Rolland Book Prize for literary translation ("of a French title into any Indian language, including English") -- and it is ... Dipa Chaudhuri and Puneet Gupta's translation into Hindi of the first three albums of the Astérix series (e.g.).
       (Somewhat disappointingly, there were only seven submissions for this prize.)

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



       Awater Poëzieprijs

       They've announced that Mischa Andriessen has won the Dutch Awater Poetry Prize; see also the Dutch Foundation for Literature report, Mischa Andriessen wins Awater Poetry Prize and De Bezige Bij's publicity page.

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


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26 January 2020 - Sunday

New Japanese golden literary age ? | Abigail review

       New Japanese golden literary age ?

       In The Japan Times "Nicolas Gatting and Damian Flanagan argue over whether a new wave of writers are transcending Japan's literary past" as they consider: Is Japan enjoying a new literary golden age ?
       Flanagan argues the no side, noting: "Few writers in Japan today excite a deep interest" -- and that:
Literature in Japan today is a far gentler, more head-on-its-shoulders, biodegradable business, no longer the preserve of a monomaniacal, fantastically ambitious elite who all went to the Tokyo University. These days literature embraces more women, minority and less-privileged voices. It generates works of social worth, entertainment and insightful reimaginings of modern life. Yet it is no more exceptional than dozens of other literatures across the world.
       And always worth bearing in mind: as Gattig notes:
Before we trumpet a new Japanese golden era, it bears remembering that what is published in English may not reflect current landscapes in Japan
       Many of the books mentioned here are under review at the complete review.

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



       Abigail review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Szabó Magda's Abigail, now out in English, from New York Review Books (US) and MacLehose Press (UK).

       See also Veronika Schandl's The Grande Dame: Magda Szabó -- A Portrait at hlo.

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



25 January 2020 - Saturday

Japanese Booksellers Award finalists | Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist
Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

       Japanese Booksellers Award finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Japanese Booksellers Award, with the Tsundoku Reader weblog having a useful (English) overview of these titles that Japanese bookstore employees "are most eager to recommend to customers" -- presumably presenting a decent picture of the current Japanese bookselling/reading scene.
       There are titles by several authors who have had works published in English translation -- notably Kawakami Mieko (e.g. Ms Ice Sandwich, with her Breasts and Eggs due out soon) and Yokoyama Hideo (e.g. Six Four).
       The winner will be announced 7 April.

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



       Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, which: "rewards the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees" (in the UK and Ireland).
       The twelve titles were selected from seventy submissions. Only one is under review at the complete review: Hanne Ørstavik's Love, which is now also out in a UK edition. (I haven't seen most of the others because they are from UK/Ireland-based publishers.)
       The winner will be announced in March.

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



       Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

       They've announced the twelve-title longlist for this year's £30,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize -- "Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under".
       Some titles here that have already gotten a lot of attention -- notably On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong -- but I haven't seen any of these. Neat to see that both poetry and fiction makes the longlist.
       The shortlist will be announced on 7 April, and the winner on 14 May.

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



24 January 2020 - Friday

Prix du Livre étranger France Inter/JDD | 'Best Iris Murdoch Books'

       Prix du Livre étranger France Inter/JDD

       They've announced the winner of this year's prix du Livre étranger France Inter/JDD, a French prize for best book in translation, with Iakovos Kambanellis' Mauthausen -- a translation from the Greek -- beating out four translations from the English (books by Chigozie Obioma, Téa Obreht, Susan Orlean, and Elif Shafak) and one from the Spanish.
       An English translation of Mauthausen came out a quarter of a century ago -- but only from local publisher Kedros; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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



       'Best Iris Murdoch Books'

       At Five Books Miles Leeson, director of the Iris Murdoch Research Centre, recommends The Best Iris Murdoch Books "from her canon of 27 novels" (and, obviously, her non-fiction, since one of the titles is non-fiction ...).
       While eight of her novels are under review at the complete review -- see, for example, An Accidental Man --, surprisingly, none of these are. I read some before I started the site -- though not The Bell, which I guess I really should get to.

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



23 January 2020 - Thursday

Judging the DSC Prize | Charco Press Q & A | Edgar Awards finalists
The Sweet Indifference of the World review

       Judging the DSC Prize

       Via I'm pointed to Shireen Quadri's Q & A in the punch with the jury members, in 2019 DSC Prize: Inside the Minds of Jurors.
       The DSC Prize For South Asian Literature announced its winner a month ago, and here the jurors explain their decision-making process, from winnowing down the 90-some submissions to a fifteen-title longlist through the next stages. Not too revealing, of course, but still some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses of the book-prize-judging process.

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



       Charco Press Q & A

       Charco Press is an impressive-looking, relatively new publisher, UK-based but now apparently with US distribution, focused: "on finding outstanding contemporary Latin American literature and bringing it to new readers in the English-speaking world", and at Words without Borders Victor Meadowcroft now has a Q & A with its founder, codirector, and editor, Looking Outside the Mainstream: Charco Press's Carolina Orloff on Publishing Fiction in Translation.
       I'm looking forward to seeing some of these -- a lot of great-sounding titles already.

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



       Edgar Awards finalists

       The Mystery Writers of America has announced its nominees for the 2020 Edgar Awards.
       I haven't seen any of these.
       The awards will be presented 30 April.

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



       The Sweet Indifference of the World review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Peter Stamm's latest, The Sweet Indifference of the World, now out in English in Michael Hofmann's translation from Other Press (US) and Granta (UK).

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



22 January 2020 - Wednesday

The book market in ... Vietnam | Prix Mémorable

       The book market in ... Vietnam

       Via I'm pointed to James Borton's report in Nikkei Asian Review finding that: In Vietnam, economic success underpins literary boom.
       A bit too anecdotal/observational for my taste -- with those numbers that are given fairly irrelevant ("In 2018, international arrivals to Vietnam reached 15.5 million, with visitors from America accounting for nearly 1 million") and inetresting numbers not available ("There are no official figures for overseas sales") -- ; still, good to hear that at least the general impression is that:
This rapid expansion of book-buying within Vietnam has been accompanied by rising interest in translated Vietnamese literature abroad.
       I do note, however, that the Publishers Weekly Translation Database lists no translation of works of fiction from the Vietnamese being published in the US in 2019. Or 2018. Or 2017. Indeed, the most recent is from ... 2014 (Nguyen Nhat Anh's Ticket to Childhood).

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



       Prix Mémorable

       They've announced the winner of the 2019 Prix Mémorable -- a French prize for a work by an author translated into French for the first time, or a resurrected work previously published but long-forgotten (previous winners include Emmanuel Bove's My Friends (2016) and John Williams' Stoner (2011)).
       This year's winner is another translation from the English, John Wain's 1962 novel Strike the Father Dead; no word yet at the official site, last I checked, but see for example the Livres Hebdo report.
       Strike the Father Dead was also reïssued a couple of years ago in both the US and UK; see the Valancourt and Foruli publicity pages, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



21 January 2020 - Tuesday

Jaipur Literature Festival | The Sleeping-Car Murders review

       Jaipur Literature Festival

       The Jaipur Literature Festival runs 23 to 25 January, with the usual impressive programme; see, for example, Harsimran Gill's Jaipur Literature Festival 2020: 12 Sessions You Shouldn't Miss and Your guide to the 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival by Rashmi Rajagopal.

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



       The Sleeping-Car Murders review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sébastien Japrisot's 1962 thriller, The Sleeping-Car Murders (originally published in English as The 10:30 from Marseilles).

       This was the basis for Costa-Gavras' directorial debut -- a film starring Yves Montand as the inspector, and with Simone Signoret, Michel Piccoli, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Not bad .....

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



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