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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 30 May 2020

21 May: Emma Ramadan Q & A | A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land review
22 May: Orwell Prize shortlists | Encore Award shortlist
23 May: Iulian Ciocan Q & A | Readopolis review
24 May: Publishing in ... Nepal | Chung Chao-cheng (1925-2020) | On Félix Fénéon
25 May: Afrodiasporic literature | Albert Memmi (1920-2020) | The Unicorn review
26 May: Bengali publishing | Dalkey Literary Awards shortlists
27 May: Prix mondial Cino del Duca | The Czech book market | The Immortals review
28 May: Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 | Looking ahead: publishing in ... India | Japanese ambivalence about English | São Bernardo review
29 May: Banipal Q & A | Amazon Literary Partnership grants | Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize shortlist
30 May: Best Translated Book Awards | Publishing in ... Kerala | The Honjin Murders review

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30 May 2020 - Saturday

Best Translated Book Awards | Publishing in ... Kerala
The Honjin Murders review

       Best Translated Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's (American) Best Translated Book Award (at The Millions, rather than the official site ...), with the fiction prize going to Celia Hawkesworth's translation of Daša Drndić's EEG, and the poetry prize to Sarah Riggs's translation of Etel Adnan's Time.
       Time recently also was awarded this year's Griffin Poetry Prizes; see also the Nightboat publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       As to the fiction winner, it's certainly a worthy one -- though in my mind it was only the second-best eligible Drndić title; I found Doppelgänger to be even more impressive.

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



       Publishing in ... Kerala

       The Indian state of Kerala has been one of the coronavirus success stories, and at Scroll.in DC Books managing partner Ravi Deecee writes on how DC Books has shown how publishing and bookselling remained alive in Kerala during the lockdown.
       Among the interesting titbits:
On April 9, 2020, with the lockdown still in place, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced in his daily press conference, that bookstores across Kerala would open twice a week. [...] It was part of series of suggestions that had been made by 14 expert members of the CII via a web conference with Vijayan that morning, and no one had expected such a quick decision from the government. [...] When instructed by the central government to reverse its decision to open bookshops, hair salons and restaurants during the lockdown, the government of Kerala decided to close salons and restaurants, but not bookstores.

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



       The Honjin Murders review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Yokomizo Seichi classic mystery, The Honjin Murders, now out in English from Pushkin Press.

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



29 May 2020 - Friday

Banipal Q & A | Amazon Literary Partnership grants
Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize shortlist

       Banipal Q & A

       At Timesnownews.com Akrita Reyar has a Q & A with Banipal-publisher Margaret Obank, 'The problem is not conflict with other cultures, but ignorance of them, which leads to the fear of the other'.

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



       Amazon Literary Partnership grants

       Publishers, booksellers, and others in the industry have considerable issues with behemoth Amazon -- but the company also does provide some support for many of them in the form of their annual Amazon Literary Partnership bribes grants, and they've now announced this year's grants, totaling "more than $1 million", going to "66 nonprofits dedicated to serving writers".
       Many deserving organizations and publishers here .....

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



       Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing, selected from sixty-nine novels; not yet at the official site, but see, for example, Porter Anderson's report at Publishing Perspectives.
       This award is now in its twentieth year; amazingly nine of the first eleven winners are under review at the complete review -- though none since then.

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



28 May 2020 - Thursday

Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 | Looking ahead: publishing in ... India
Japanese ambivalence about English | São Bernardo review

       Frankfurt Book Fair 2020

       They've started playing football (soccer) in Germany again already -- without spectators in the stands --, and now they've announced that all systems are go for this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. Yes, they plan to hold it -- with some added precautions, self-reporting, and distancing -- as usual (i.e. not like, for example, the American Book Expo (which, amazingly, is on right now -- though I suspect not with the most impressive participation rate ...).
       They have almost five months until the Frankfurt Book Fair -- it's scheduled 14 to 18 October -- so who knows what the situation will be like by then. Still, I imagine even under the best of circumstances there will fewer foreign visitors -- especially from outside Europe -- than usual. (Indeed, travel restrictions are still in full force, and I find it difficult to believe travelers from the US will be permitted quarantine-less entry into Germany by October, given the current situation in the US and the (too) limited efforts to contain spread of the virus.)
       Fair director Juergen Boos will hold a press conference today at 16:00 local time (10:00 EST, I believe); you can watch it live here on YouTube; should be interesting.

       (Updated - 29 May): Börsenblatt reports that major German publishing houses Random House, Bonnier, and Holtzbrinck are not interested in having stands this year, so that already cuts things way back .....

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



       Looking ahead: publishing in ... India

       At Scroll.in Durba Chattaraj offers A blueprint for creating new readers in the post-pandemic world (or, what publishers need to do).

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



       Japanese ambivalence about English

       At Foreign Policy Eric Margolis reports on the strangely ambivalent attitude common in Japan towards English, in Japan Doesn't Want to Become Another Casualty of English.
       Among his observations:
Even with the relatively low number of English speakers in Japan, others are concerned about Japanese language and literature becoming overshadowed by the behemoth of English.Even with the relatively low number of English speakers in Japan, others are concerned about Japanese language and literature becoming overshadowed by the behemoth of English. In 2008, Minae Mizumura made waves with her book The Fall of Language in the Age of English, in which she traces the development of the English and Japanese languages and argues for more of a focus on Japanese-language education. At the time, many called her an old-fashioned Japanese imperialist.
       Meanwhile: "there is ample resistance to studying English in Japan. Most people simply don't need it in their daily lives".

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



       São Bernardo review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Graciliano Ramos' 1934 novel, São Bernardo, just out in a new translation, by Padma Viswanathan, from New York Review Books.

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



27 May 2020 - Wednesday

Prix mondial Cino del Duca | The Czech book market
The Immortals review

       Prix mondial Cino del Duca

       They've announced the winner of this year's prix mondial Cino del Duca, a €200,000 prize that has gone to everyone from Andrei Sakharov (1974) to Jorge Luis Borges (1980), Mario Vargas Llosa (2008), Milan Kundera (2009), and Patrick Modiano (2010). The 2020 prize goes to Joyce Carol Oates; no word yet at the official site, as best I can tell, but see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.

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



       The Czech book market

       At Radio Prague International Tom McEnchroe reports on how Various initiatives seek to support Czech book market recovering from coronavirus lockdown.
       Some interesting ideas -- and also impressive to hear that:
Meanwhile, the Czech Literary Centre (Czech Lit), a relatively new public institution aimed at propagating Czech literature at home and abroad has announced its own form of support. Czech Lit Director Martin Krafl told Czech Television that the organisation has dedicated CZK 560,000 from its budget to provide 16 Czech authors with a monthly stipend of CZK 20,000.
       (CZK 20,000 is a bit more than US$800 -- not a huge amount, but certainly welcome, I'd imagine.)

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



       The Immortals review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of René Barjavel's 1973 novel, The Immortals -- a virus novel ! though the virus is of rather a different nature than the current real-life one people are dealing with.
       Futura Sciences recently included this -- as the only not-written-in-English work -- on their list of le top 5 des meilleurs livres de science-fiction. It's maybe not top-five, but it is decent fun.

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



26 May 2020 - Tuesday

Bengali publishing | Dalkey Literary Awards shortlists

       Bengali publishing

       The latest installment in the Scroll.in series on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on publishing in India has Tridib Chatterjee look at How the lockdown (and then the cyclone) caught Bengali language publishing on the wrong foot -- with a postscript by Esha Chatterjee looking at the cyclone Amphan fall-out.

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



       Dalkey Literary Awards shortlists

       The Dalkey Literary Awards are a new Irish literary award with two categories, Novel of the Year and Emerging Writer; paying out a total of €30,000 they are apparently: "the most lucrative in the Irish literary calendar".
       They've now announced the shortlists for the awards, six titles in each category, with Edna O'Brien's Girl and Kevin Barry's Night Boat to Tangier among the books in the running for best novel.
       Thjey were planning on announcing the winners at the Dalkey Book Festival, but since that's been cancelled this year there will be a digital award ceremony on 20 June.

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



25 May 2020 - Monday

Afrodiasporic literature | Albert Memmi (1920-2020) | The Unicorn review

       Afrodiasporic literature

       At Quartz Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo writes about how Modern African literature is taking a journey through the diaspora back to the continent.

       Some of the African literature under review at the complete review is, of course, diasporic, but as is also the case with other regions, it's probably quite under-represented.

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



       Albert Memmi (1920-2020)

       French-Tunisian author Albert Memmi has passed away; see, for example, the coverage at ArabLit.
       Quite a few of his works are available in English, beginning with The Pillar of Salt; see the Beacon Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       The Unicorn review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iris Murdoch's 1963 novel, The Unicorn.

       I often complain about how much is not translated into English, but I must say I'm somewhat surprised that Murdoch generally and this in particular isn't more widely available in translation. This doesn't seem to have even ever been translated into German, and it appears to be long, long out of print in French -- baffling.

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



24 May 2020 - Sunday

Publishing in ... Nepal | Chung Chao-cheng (1925-2020) | On Félix Fénéon

       Publishing in ... Nepal

       At Scroll.in publisher and author Ajit Baral: "charts the journey of publishing in Nepal, and its recent and current challenges", in Nepali publishing was thriving. Then it went into a decline. Then Covid-19 struck -- a good overview.

       Not enough Nepali fiction is under review at the complete review -- but Narayan Wagle's Palpasa Café, which Baral calls a turning point, is.

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



       Chung Chao-cheng (1925-2020)

       Taiwanese author Chung Chao-cheng (Zhong Zhaozheng) passed away recently, and in the Taipei Times Han Cheung has an interesting overview of the author, in A great loss for Taiwanese literature.

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



       On Félix Fénéon

       At Frieze Francesca Wade writes about The Man Who Made the News Novelesque, Félix Fénéon; he's been getting more attention recently because of the alas-only-accessible-online-for-now exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art, Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde -- From Signac to Matisse and Beyond.
       The New York Review Books collection Novels in Three Lines is certainly worth picking up, too.

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



23 May 2020 - Saturday

Iulian Ciocan Q & A | Readopolis review

       Iulian Ciocan Q & A

       At Global Voices Filip Noubel has a Q & A with Moldovan novelist Iulian Ciocan, Fighting and writing for Moldova's place in the pantheon of world literature.
       His Before Brezhnev Died is apparently recently out from Dalkey Archive Press; no publicity page at the official site yet, but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; see also translator Alistair Ian Blyth on the novel.
       I haven't seen this one yet but certainly hope to; the only Moldovan title under review at the complete review is Vladimir Lorchenkov's The Good Life Elsewhere.

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



       Readopolis review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bertrand Laverdure's Readopolis.

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



22 May 2020 - Friday

Orwell Prize shortlists | Encore Award shortlist

       Orwell Prize shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's Orwell Prizes, including the award for political fiction; finalists for that include Booker Prize-co-winner Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, Pulitzer Prize-winner The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, and Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport.
       The winners will be announced 25 June.

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



       Encore Award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Royal Society of Literature Encore Award, a £10,000 prize for the best second novel of the year in the UK.
       Last year's winner was Normal People by Sally Rooney, and previous winners also include Ali Smith, Amit Chaudhuri, Colm Tóibín, and Iain Sinclair.
       The winner will be announced on 25 June.

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



21 May 2020 - Thursday

Emma Ramadan Q & A | A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land review

       Emma Ramadan Q & A

       At the World Literature Today weblog Veronica Esposito has a Q & A with the translator, in Weird, Funny, Delicious Books Wanted: A Conversation with Emma Ramadan.

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



       A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Novel of Sihanouk's Cambodia, Suon Sorin's 1961 novel, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land, a rare translation from the Khmer, recently out from NUS Press (as in: National University of Singapore, now also distributed in the US by the University of Chicago Press).

       How few translations into English from Khmer are there ? So few that the Publishers Weekly Translation Database doesn't even bother listing Khmer/Cambodian as an option -- i.e. finds none for the whole covered period (2008 through 2020) .....

       Among the books I've acquired in the last year are Soth Polin's L'anarchiste -- see the La Table Ronde publicity page -- and Patrick Deville's Kampuchéa -- see the Seuil publicity page. But obviously, what I really want/need now is Khun Srun's L'accusé -- see the Les éditions du Sonneur publicity page --; there's also a translated-into-English bit (by Madeleine Thien, from (sigh ...) the French translation), at Brick.
       Meanwhile, see also Teri Shaffer Yamada's informative essay, The Impact of Censorship on Modern Cambodian Literature.

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



previous entries (11 - 20 May 2020)

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