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the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review
opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 May 2020

1 May: Edgar Awards | Pushkin House Russian Book Prize finalists | Lockdown translation
2 May: Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize | Latvian Literature Awards | Maigret and the Ghost review
3 May: OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature | Getting to books in ... Japan | African recommendations
4 May: Premio Formentor | Vivek Shanbhag Q & A | Scandal review
5 May: Pulitzer Prizes | RSL Ondaatje Prize
6 May: Prix Renaudot longlists | Dante's Bones review
7 May: Latvian isolation reading | Kusumabale review
8 May: Theakston Crime Novel longlist | UK small presses | Masquerade review
9 May: Goethepreis | Independent bookshops in ... Delhi | A Czech Dreambook
10 May: Kawakami Mieko profile | Translations from the ... Dutch

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10 May 2020 - Sunday

Kawakami Mieko profile | Translations from the ... Dutch

       Kawakami Mieko profile

       In The New York Times Motoko Rich finds: 'Mieko Kawakami, whose novel Breasts and Eggs was just published in English, has become something of a feminist icon in her male-dominated country' in her profile, A Novelist Breaks the Code of Being a Woman in Japan.

       Not quite clear from the article, but Kawakami's 乳と卵 -- the Akutagawa-winning novella, 'Breasts and Eggs' -- was expanded considerably and then published, a decade later, as 夏物語, and that's what the English translation is of .....

       Kawakami's Ms Ice Sandwich is also under review at the complete review; so are the other works mentioned here: Ogawa's The Memory Police (and eleven more of her works), Murata's Convenience Store Woman, as well as Oyamada's The Factory. And, of course, a ton of Murakami.

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



       Translations from the ... Dutch

       The latest batch of translation grants from the Dutch Foundation for Literature have been announced -- always a good way to see what is being translated from the Dutch, and into what languages.
       Disappointingly, only one the seven fiction titles is being translated into English -- an Otto de Kat. Things are slightly better with regards to non-fiction, and children's books.
       Meanwhile, after the whole massive Het Bureau-series being translated into German, there's apparently interest in even more J.J. Voskuil, as they're now also translating De moeder van Nicolien.

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



9 May 2020 - Saturday

Goethepreis | Independent bookshops in ... Delhi | A Czech Dreambook

       Goethepreis

       The Goethe Prize is a triennial lifetime-work prize -- not limited to authors, awarded since 1927, and paying out €50,000 -- and they've now announced that this year's prize goes to Dževad Karahasan. Previous winners include everyone from Albert Schweitzer (1928) to Max Planck (1945) to Thomas Mann (1949), Georg Lukács (1970), Arno Schmidt (1973), Ingmar Bergman (1976), and Amos Oz (2005).
       The only one of Karahasan's work translated into English appears to be Sarajevo, Exodus of a City; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. See also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page for his Omar Khayyam-novel, Što pepeo priča and scroll down to links for information about some of his other works.

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



       Independent bookshops in ... Delhi

       At Scroll.in Manjari Sahay finds: "the Delhi experience shows how beloved independent bookstores have been affected by the lockdown", in Independent bookshops: What the lockdown, Covid-19 and its aftermath may mean for them.

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



       A Czech Dreambook

       At the Asymptote blog Julia Sherwood has a Q & A about A Czech Dreambook: Gerald Turner on Translating Ludvík Vaculík
       A Czech Dreambook is recently out from Karolinum Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. I have a copy, and hope to eventually get proper coverage up .....
       And of course Turner's new translation of Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk is something to look forward to .....

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



8 May 2020 - Friday

Theakston Crime Novel longlist | UK small presses | Masquerade review

       Theakston Crime Novel longlist

       They've announced the eighteen-title strong longlist for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
       The only title under review at the complete review is Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer.
       The shortlist will be announced on 8 June.

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



       UK small presses

       At The Bookseller Ruth Comerford reports that in the UK and Ireland Small presses fear being 'wiped out' by autumn, presenting the results of a survey which 72 publishers responded to.
       The decline in sales is worrisome -- "85% said they had seen a drop in sales of more than 50%"

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



       Masquerade review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second in Walter Satterthwait's trio of Pinkerton novels, Masquerade.

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



7 May 2020 - Thursday

Latvian isolation reading | Kusumabale review

       Latvian isolation reading

       At Latvian Literature they suggest five: " works of Latvian literature addressing various types of voluntary and forced isolation", including Alberts Bels' classic The Cage and Anete Melece's Kiosks, which was also just featured at Lsm.lv.

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



       Kusumabale review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Devanoora Mahadeva's Kusumabale.

       This won the Sahitya Akademi Award -- a leading Indian literary prize -- both for the Kannada original (in 1990) and for this translation by Susan Daniel into English (2019), published by Oxford University Press.

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



6 May 2020 - Wednesday

Prix Renaudot longlists | Dante's Bones review

       Prix Renaudot longlists

       They've announced the longlists for this year's prix Renaudot -- fourteen novels, and a mere four in the 'essai'-category.
       Among the fiction titles is Claro's La maison indigène -- see also the Actes Sud publicity page -- but he quickly let them know that he doesn't want the book to be in the running.
       (As longtime readers know, my opinion on this sort of thing is: they should ignore him. It's about the book(s), not how authors feel about the prize; he's welcome to turn the prize down, should it be awarded to his book, but his feelings -- just like anyone else's -- on the matter should not be taken into consideration in the judging-process.)

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



       Dante's Bones review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Guy P. Raffa on How a Poet Invented Italy, in Dante's Bones, just out from Harvard University Press.

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



5 May 2020 - Tuesday

Pulitzer Prizes | RSL Ondaatje Prize

       Pulitzer Prizes

       They've announced the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners (and finalists).

       The fiction prize went to The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead -- his second Pulitzer --, beating out The Topeka School by Ben Lerner and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.
       The general non-fiction prize was shared by The End of the Myth, by Greg Grandin, and The Undying, by Anne Boyer.

       The criticism prize went to art critic Christopher Knight, of The Los Angeles Times; none of the three finalists were book critics.

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



       RSL Ondaatje Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize -- awarded: "for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" -- and it is A Portable Paradise, by Roger Robinson.
       As you might recall, A Portable Paradise also won the 2019 T.S.Eliot Prize; see also the Peepal Tree Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



4 May 2020 - Monday

Premio Formentor | Vivek Shanbhag Q & A | Scandal review

       Premio Formentor

       The Formentor Prize was an international author prize awarded between 1961 and 1967 that managed to honor Samuel Beckett and Jorge Luis Borges -- they shared the first one, in 1961 --, Uwe Johnson, and Witold Gombrowicz, among others; revived in 2011, the now €50,000 prize has a pretty decent track record too, with winners including Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, and, last year, Annie Ernaux. They've now announced this year's winner -- and it is the certainly worthy Cees Nooteboom; see, for example, the report at El Universal.

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



       Vivek Shanbhag Q & A

       In the Deccan Herald Stanley Carvalho has a Q & A with Ghachar Ghochar-author Vivek Shanbhag, The tangled web we weave.
       One answer that breaks my heart:
Why was Ghachar Ghochar chosen for translation and was the translation satisfactory ?

The only reason for picking this book for translation was its length. It is the shortest of my novels.
       I hope some of the longer ones eventually make it into English too .....

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



       Scandal review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Endo Shusaku's 1986 novel, Scandal.

       This was published in English in 1988, and at the time Endo was arguably the internationally most acclaimed living Japanese author, with Abe Kōbō and Ōe Kenzaburō the closest competition. But between Ōe winning the Nobel Prize (in 1994) and Yoshimoto Banana and Murakami Haruki breaking through at the end of the 1980s, completely changing English-speaking readers' expectations of contemporary Japanese fiction, Endo has become somewhat sidelined. His more strongly Christian-themed fiction keeps him in the picture -- but even the 2016 Martin Scorsese adaptation of Silence didn't really help attract a that much wider readership again (no repeat of that The Age of Innocence-adaptation, which helped fuel the Edith Wharton revival ...). Meanwhile, Scandal certainly demonstrates that he can't be pigeonholed as 'simply' a Christian writer -- far from it .....

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



3 May 2020 - Sunday

OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature
Getting to books in ... Japan | African recommendations

       OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

       They've announced the winner of this year's OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature -- selected from the three category-winners (fiction, non, poetry) finalists -- and it is Epiphaneia by Richard Georges; see also the Out Spoken publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Getting to books in ... Japan

       In The Japan Times they find Closed bookstores and libraries remain a challenge for bibliophiles -- while: "Japan-based publishers also worry over what an extended state of emergency could do to the industry"
       Interestingly, bookstores "were not subject to closure requests, although used-book stores were" -- but many nevertheless closed, or curtailed their hours. Libraries have also been largely closed now -- though: "some have devised ways to stay in business by setting up temporary “window” slots from which people can borrow books".

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



       African recommendations

       The dubious 'must-read'-list is even more widespread (as filler material ...) in these lockdown times, but at least Isabel Hofmeyr's at The Conversation covers a bit more than the usual ground in listing The eight must-read African novels to get you through lockdown -- favorites from "literary academic colleagues from South Africa, Kenya and Uganda".
       Half the list is under review at the complete review, too: Waiting, A General Theory of Oblivion, Broken Glass, and Life and Times of Michael K.

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



2 May 2020 - Saturday

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize | Latvian Literature Awards
Maigret and the Ghost review

       Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, honoring: "an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year", and it is Philip Boehm's translation of Christine Wunnicke's The Fox and Dr. Shimamura.
       Admirably, this prize reveals all the titles in the running for it -- twenty-one this year.
       They're also having an: "online conversation between Philip Boehm and jury chairwoman Dr. Shelley Frisch, moderated by Erin Cox", Translating Unconventional Narratives that you can listen in on, on 9 May at 15:00 EST.

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



       Latvian Literature Award

       They've announced this year's Laligaba winners -- the Latvian Literature Awards -- with Inga Gaile's Skaistās taking the fiction award, and a translation of The Song of El Cid winning the best translation into Latvian.
       See also the Dienas Grāmata publicity page for Skaistās. The only work by Gaile available in translation appears to be the poetry collection 30 Questions People Don't Ask; see the Pleiades Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Maigret and the Ghost review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's Maigret and the Ghost.

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



1 May 2020 - Friday

Edgar Awards | Pushkin House Russian Book Prize finalists
Lockdown translation

       Edgar Awards

       The Mystery Writers of America have announced the winners of this year's Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
       I haven't seen any of these, but this and the shortlists generally make for a good sampler of contemporary American crime/mystery works.

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



       Pushkin House Russian Book Prize finalists

       They've announced the six finalists for this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, a £10,000 prize, awarded: "for the best non-fiction writing published for the first time during 2019 in English on the Russian-speaking world"; see also The Moscow Times report by Michele A. Berdy.

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



       Lockdown translation

       In The Guardian Julia Webster Ayuso has a fun piece on Literary lockdown: how translating a Dan Brown novel made for a thriller plot -- about the inspiration for the recent French film The Translators (Les Traducteurs).
       The movie, directed by Régis Roinsard, looks like it might be quite fun; see publicity pages from Artemis Productions and Palace Films -- though at this point it's unclear when/how it will be released in the US and UK.

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



previous entries (21 - 30 April 2020)

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