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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 July 2020

1 July: The Three-Body Problem - (not yet) the film | Rudolfo Anaya (1937-2020) | Kukula Awards
2 July: Translations from ... India | Suhrkamp Verlag at 70 | A Man review
3 July: Desmond Elliott Prize | Rentrée littéraire numbers | Charting Agatha Christie | They Say Sarah review
4 July: Warwick Prize entries | Fitzcarraldo Editions' design | Comics in ... India | Twilight over Burma review
5 July: Q & As: Donald Nicholson-Smith - Nino Haratischvili - Maryse Condé
6 July: Premio Strega | Clark Gifford's Body review
7 July: Fiftieth anniversaries | Colonial Dutch classics | Sand review
8 July: Georg-Büchner-Preis | Crime fiction boom in UK | Frankfurt Book Fair Guests of Honour | Translations from the ... Dutch
9 July: Prix «Le Point» du polar européen | Under the Yoke | 'The Decameron Project' | Fixions review
10 July: Language and space travel | Book-cleansing drive at Chinese schools | Anne Tyler Q & A

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10 July 2020 - Friday

Language and space travel | Book-cleansing drive at Chinese schools
Anne Tyler Q & A

       Language and space travel

       In Acta Futura A. McKenzie and J. Punske have a paper on Language Development During Interstellar Travel -- where they conclude:
While crisp predictions are impossible due to the nature of language change, we can predict that significant changes will likely occur within a single generation. Eventually, the language or languages of the crew will diverge from those on Earth. If they start out with multiple languages, those will perhaps converge towards each other. After enough time we will consider the crew's speech to have formed new languages.
     If we send multiple crews to a colony, the problem could compound upon each crew's arrival.
       At Phys.org Matt Williams has an overview of their findings, in Languages will change significantly on interstellar flights.
       This wasn't addressed in Christopher Wanjek's recent Spacefarers, but seems like yet another thing to keep in mind in planning space exploration.

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



       Book-cleansing drive at Chinese schools

       At Reuters Huizhong Wu reports that: In echo of Mao era, China's schools in book-cleansing drive.
       It's not entirely as horrible as it sounds -- much of this 'cleansing' involves the actual weeding-out of books that any library regularly does -- so, for example:
The books removed have mainly been out-of-date, shabby or pirated texts, but the drive has also covered those which, while they may be legally available, are sensitive.
       It's an interesting article just to see how Reuters collected information and data -- as not many institutions were very forthcoming to them about this:
Reuters tried to call more than 100 other schools across the country to inquire about the removal campaign; 44 of the numbers were functioning. Of those, officials at 23 declined to comment or hung up. There was no response from the rest.
       And I suppose it is good to hear that, after an incident in December: "Schools have not boasted of book burnings since".

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



       Anne Tyler Q & A

       In the New Statesman Leo Robson has a Q & A with Anne Tyler: “I am a seat-of-the-pants reader”.

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



9 July 2020 - Thursday

Prix «Le Point» du polar européen | Under the Yoke
'The Decameron Project' | Fixions review

       Prix «Le Point» du polar européen

       They've now announced the winner of this year's prix «Le Point» du polar européen, and it is A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee; see also the Pegasus Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       See the shortlist here for the six titles it beat out.

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



       Under the Yoke

       They're celebrating the 170th anniversary of Ivan Vazov's birth with an exhibit at the Sofia City Library, and among the items on display is a first edition of his Under the Yoke, the most famous work of classical Bulgarian literature. Remarkably, as Bulgarian National Radio, reports, the: First-ever edition of Bulgaria's most emblematic novel Under the Yoke was in English.
       Who would have guessed ? But, yes, apparently:
The English-language edition of the novel written by the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature, Ivan Vazov, precedes the Bulgarian one by several months.
       For what it's worth, the 'Translator's Note' to that William Heinemann edition notes (warns of ?):
the difficulty of rendering into English a work written in Bulgarian, a language which may be said to be as yet uncultivated and in a state of transition, which possess no dictionary worthy of the name, and which, at all events in peasant mouths and in certain districts, is a strange jumble
       There is a more recent translation -- but that was first published by then still Communist Bulgarian Foreign Languages Press more than half a century ago, too. So maybe it's time for a new translation ?

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



       'The Decameron Project'

       The New York Times has presented The Decameron Project, twenty-nine authors offering: "new short stories inspired by the moment".
       An impressive line-up of authors here, but I have to admit I haven't taken a closer look; I'm waiting for the print version, presumably part of this Sunday's issue.

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



       Fixions review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a collection of Stories by a Ugandan writer, Taban lo Liyong's 1969 Fixions, published in the classic African Writers Series.

       Regrettably, the reason for which the author has most recently gotten attention is that, as Daniel Danis reported at Eye Radio: Prof. Lo Liyong suspended over 'views' on number of states. Yes, they've accused him of: "incitement of ethnic hatred" and for "bringing the name of the University of Juba into disrepute". Their case does not sound very convincing, to say the least.

       There aren't that many reviews of his works available online, so in updating the other reviews of his work at the site I was pleased to see a June 2016 review of one of them in the Tanzanian The Citizen -- until it struck me as rather too familiar. Yes, they merely reproduced my own -- without asking or telling (much less paying) me, and with minimal credit (hence: no link to that here).
       Bad form, 'Citizens', bad form.
       Aside from the (mis)appropriation: it's good to see some mention/discussion of his work in an African periodical -- but it's a shame that, rather than my meager efforts (which, in addition, are already readily accessible online to anyone who is interested), they didn't seek out a local author to write about his book. Some book coverage is better than none at all -- but how much better it would be to foster and support local critics and voices.

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



8 July 2020 - Wednesday

Georg-Büchner-Preis | Crime fiction boom in UK
Frankfurt Book Fair Guests of Honour | Translations from the ... Dutch

       Georg-Büchner-Preis

       They've announced the winner of this year's Georg Büchner Prize, the most prestigious German-language author prize, and it is poet Elke Erb.
       Several collections of her poetry have appeared in English translation -- for example, The Up and Down of Feet; see the publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       See also the Urs Engeler Verlag author page.
       She gets to pick up the prize on 31 October.

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



       Crime fiction boom in UK

       In The Guardian Alison Flood reports that in the UK there's been a Crime fiction boom as book sales rocket past 2019 levels, as:
Readers have been pouncing on stories of murder and revenge, with nearly 120,000 more crime and thriller books bought in the last two weeks of June, when compared to the same point last year.
       Always good to hear of an increase in sales -- and in this case it does not even appear to have come at the cost of other genres, as overall sales are up considerably too.

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



       Frankfurt Book Fair Guests of Honour

       The Frankfurt Book Fair is going on -- in less than a hundred days -- but the physical presences won't be quite the usual crowded sort -- and they've now also announced that they're pushing back the next four 'Guests of Honour', starting with Canada, which was up this year; see Guest of Honour Canada's physical presentation in Frankfurt postponed to 2021, with statements from pretty much everyone affected.
       The line-up for the coming years is thus now:
  • 2021: Canada
  • 2022: Spain
  • 2023: Slovenia
  • 2024: Italy
       The official Canadian site is already up -- pity about that URL ... -- and hopefully they'll be using that for the next year-plus to spread the word about Canadian literature.

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



       Translations from the ... Dutch

       They've announced the latest batch of Translation Grants for Foreign Publishers, awarded to foreign publishers of Dutch literature -- 52 grants paying out a total of €202,901.
       Always interesting to see what is being translated, and into what languages -- though, as too often, too little here is into English (though admittedly some of the other titles here have already previously been translated into English).
       Coming in English: only one work of fiction -- Vallen is als vliegen by Manon Uphoff; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page -- and one non -- De rechtvaardigen, by Jan Brokken; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page. Also: a graphic novel and a couple of children's books (three by Maren Stoffels).

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



7 July 2020 - Tuesday

Fiftieth anniversaries | Colonial Dutch classics | Sand review

       Fiftieth anniversaries

       As Michael Barron reports at Publishers Weekly Verso, Feminist Press Turn 50.
       That would be Verso -- originally New Left Books -- and The Feminist Press. Both publish some fiction, including some fiction in translation -- most of it very good.

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



       Colonial Dutch classics

       At the Dutch Foundation for Literature weblog Wilma Scheffers introduces Three Modern Classics Of Dutch (Post-)Colonial -- from the Dutch Antilles, Suriname, and Indonesia.
       Two of them are available in English: Frank Martinus Arion's Double Play -- see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and Hella S. Haase's The Black Lake -- see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Sand review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ashokamitran's Sand and other stories.

       Disappointingly -- and somewhat surprisingly -- this is only the second translation from Tamil under review at the complete review.

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



6 July 2020 - Monday

Premio Strega | Clark Gifford's Body review

       Premio Strega

       They've announced the winner of this year's Premio Strega, the leading Italian novel award, and it is Il colibrì, by Sandro Veronesi; it's the second time Veronesi has won this prize; he also took it in 2006, with Quiet Chaos.
       Il colibrì won with 200 of the 605 submitted votes; the runner-up was La misura del tempo by Gianrico Carofiglio, which got 132 votes.
       See also the La nave di Teseo publicity page for the winning title.

       Veronesi's The Force of the Past is also under review at the complete review; I would guess that we will see a translation of this one fairly soon too.

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



       Clark Gifford's Body review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kenneth Fearing's 1942 novel Clark Gifford's Body, which New York Review Books re-issued a couple of years back.

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



5 July 2020 - Sunday

Q & As: Donald Nicholson-Smith - Nino Haratischvili - Maryse Condé

       Q & A: Donald Nicholson-Smith

       At Bookforum Jose Rosales and Andreas Petrossiants have a Q & A with Donald Nicholson-Smith on Translating Jean-Patrick Manchette.
       All the Jean-Patrick Manchette translations are under review at the complete review -- see, for example, Nada -- and I'm very much looking forward to the forthcoming No Room at the Morgue (though that translation is by Alyson Waters; see also the NYRB publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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



       Q & A: Nino Haratischvili

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Shane Anderson has: Revolution, War, and Exile: A Conversation with Nino Haratischvili -- mainly about her novel The Eighth Life.

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



       Q & A: Maryse Condé

       In The Guardian Anita Sethi has a Q & A with Maryse Condé: 'An English author can reach the heart of a Caribbean child'.

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



4 July 2020 - Saturday

Warwick Prize entries | Fitzcarraldo Editions' design
Comics in ... India | Twilight over Burma review

       Warwick Prize entries

       The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, awarded to a work (pretty much any kind -- fiction or non, poetry or drama, etc.) written by a woman, commendably does what all literary prizes should: reveal what titles are actually under consideration for the prize. So also they've now revealed the 132 eligible submitted titles, originally written in 34 languages, for this year's prize, which you can now find here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       This makes for a great resource, too, especially since writing by women has long been under-represented in translation (a situation that, fortunately, has improved in recent years).

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



       Fitzcarraldo Editions' design

       As long-time readers know, I'm a big fan of uniform and simple(st) cover design -- practiced by many of the leading French publishers, various Suhrkamp lines, the Loeb Classical Library etc. -- and hence approve very much of the ultra-basic Fitzcarraldo Editions cover look (though of course it helps that they have great books, too).
       At Elephant Ravi Ghosh now writes about Fitzcarraldo Editions' Design Makes Literary Fiction a Must-Have Accessory.

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



       Comics in ... India

       I've never been completely won over by comics -- I'm very much text-focused, and prefer my mind's eye to do the visual work ... -- and not much is under review at the complete review, but I do find it interesting to see, especially, different approaches in different cultures/languages/etc., and CG Salamander's piece at Scroll.in offers a good introduction and overview of one I've been largely unfamiliar with, as he reports that Comics were facing a squeeze in India. Has the pandemic opened the door to a revival ?

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



       Twilight over Burma review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Inge Sargent's autobiographical Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess.

       I continue to remain frustrated by how little Burmese literature is available in translation -- see also the (very) limited amount under review at the complete review -- but, hey, at least it's something semi-local (and a pretty wild story).

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



3 July 2020 - Friday

Desmond Elliott Prize | Rentrée littéraire numbers
Charting Agatha Christie | They Say Sarah review

       Desmond Elliott Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Desmond Elliott Prize, a UK/Ireland prize for a debut work of fiction that pays out £10,000 -- and it is: That Reminds Me, by Derek Owusu.
       See also the Merky Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Rentrée littéraire numbers

       Livres Hebdo has the numbers for this year's rentrée littéraire, the big French book-release season, when most of the major fiction is released, around the end of August.
       511 new novels are scheduled to be released, down slightly from last year's 524.
       There's a big decline in fiction in translation -- 145 titles, down from 188 in 2019. Debuts are also way down: 65, compared to 82 in 2019.

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



       Charting Agatha Christie

       Some fun charts at Bloomberg, where Dorothy Gambrell offers: "All of the author's deadly plots, plotted", in: Who Did What in Every Agatha Christie Murder Novel.

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



       They Say Sarah review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pauline Delabroy-Allard's They Say Sarah -- or All About Sarah, as the UK edition has it.
       How in this day and age US and UK publishers still -- and so often ! -- publish books under different titles astounds and baffles me.

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



2 July 2020 - Thursday

Translations from ... India | Suhrkamp Verlag at 70 | A Man review

       Translations from ... India

       At the Words without Borders weblog Arunava Sinha points out that literature in many, many languages other than English is being written in India, and he suggests 10 Translated Books from India to Read Now (which, with a Postscript, is actually eleven ...) -- reminding readers that: "The objective is not to create a best-of list, but simply to provide a flavor".
       Only two of these under review at the complete review -- Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag and The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash -- and I actually haven't seen any of the others; several are not readily available in the US/UK (though in this internet day and age they can be obtained with a bit of effort).
       There are, however, also quite a few more translated titles from the region under review at the complete review -- though not nearly enough.

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



       Suhrkamp Verlag at 70

       Leading German literary publisher Suhrkamp turned 70 yesterday, so they're Celebrating 70 years of Suhrkamp Verlag.
       Suhrkamp is certainly among the publishers that I have the most volumes from in my library (well, libraries -- well, boxes ...); I suspect only Penguin could give it a run for the money. As far as influencing/shaping my reading, probably only Dalkey Archive Press can compare -- at least through the Unseld-era; post-Unseld things have been a bit more hit or miss.

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



       A Man review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hirano Keiichiro's A Man, recently out from AmazonCrossing.

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



1 July 2020 - Wednesday

The Three-Body Problem - (not yet) the film
Rudolfo Anaya (1937-2020) | Kukula Awards

       The Three-Body Problem - (not yet) the film

       Liu Cixin's trilogy, The Three-Body Problem -- only the first volume is under review at the complete review -- is undoubtedly the (international-)breakout work of Chinese science fiction. A film version seemed inevitable -- but the transition to the big screen has not gone well:
Yoozoo Pictures still holds the film rights for the book series, which is officially called Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The film studio once had an ambitious plan to spend 1.2 billion yuan ($195.5 million) to make the science fiction trilogy into a series of 6 movies, with each costing 200 million yuan to make.

Zhang Fanfan, a critically panned horror movie creator, was originally chosen to direct the film, but it caused widespread skepticism among the book's fans. He started shooting anyway and finished the first installment starring Zhang Jingchu between 2014 and 2015. His adaptation was scheduled for release in 2016 but was later shelved. Inside sources told China.org.cn the film was a huge mess.
       So reports Zhang Rui at China.org.cn -- with a headline that does not exactly inspire great confidence that things are going to go better any time soon: Chinese animator to save live-action 'Three-Body' project.

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



       Rudolfo Anaya (1937-2020)

       American author Rudolfo Anaya has passed away; see, for example, Russell Contreras' AP obituary.
       His best-known work remains Bless Me, Ultima; see also the Grand Central publicity page, the pages for when it was the NEA Big Read, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
       See also the Rudolfo Anaya Digital Archive.

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



       Kukula Awards

       The Washington Monthly has introduced the Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing; this: "first-of-its-kind prize honors exemplary nonfiction book reviewing in America", and they've now announced the 2020 winners in the two categories (for a review in a larger publication (with 12 or more editorial staff) and in a smaller publication (with fewer than 12 editorial staff)); they also link to all the finalist-reviews in both categories. The prize pays out US$1,000.
       Great to see some prize-attention for individual reviews.

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



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