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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 October 2020

11 October: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Q & A | Philip Pullman
12 October: Reviewing science fiction | Variations on Night and Day review
13 October: Deutscher Buchpreis | Frankfurt Book Fair | Pushkin House Prize shortlist
14 October: John Dos Passos Prize | Prix de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco | A Dandy in Aspic review
15 October: Goldsmiths Prize shortlist | Albertine Prize finalists | Full complement at the Swedish Academy
16 October: (American) National Translation Awards | Baillie Gifford Prize shortlist | Philip Roth v. Philip Roth
17 October: Science fiction -- the last 10 years | October Asymptote | The Bell in the Lake review
18 October: Q & As: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o - Michiko Kakutani - David Karashima - James Wood
19 October: Don DeLillo profile | On Human Worth and Excellence review
20 October: Pia Juul (1962-2020) | Translation from the ... Chinese | Philip Roth's library

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20 October 2020 - Tuesday

Pia Juul (1962-2020) | Translation from the ... Chinese | Philip Roth's library

       Pia Juul (1962-2020)

       I missed this three weeks ago, but Danish author Pia Juul has passed away; see, for example, the (Danish) report at DR by Sidsel Finderup Trap-Jensens, Forfatter Pia Juul er død: 'Der var ingen som hende i dansk litteratur'.
       Though better-known as a poet, her novel The Murder of Halland appears to be the only one of her books translated into English.

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



       Translation from the ... Chinese

       At RADII Dylan Levi King wonders What's Going Wrong with Chinese Literature in Translation ?
       He notes:
What makes it into English translation is often shaped by the idea that Chinese fiction's main function is to explain China, and by two sides wrangling over what story Chinese literature should tell.
       Certainly it would be great to see (many) more -- and a greater variety of -- translations from the Chinese.

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



       Philip Roth's library

       Philip Roth left his 7,000 book personal library to the Newark public library.
       They're setting up the Philip Roth Personal Library, but note:
So far, only a portion of Philip Roth's books have been transferred to the Newark Public Library, and they have not yet been catalogued.
       At NJ.com Rebecca Panico now reports that: Newark library's Philip Roth collection will give intimate glimpse into his research and writing process. Apparently, Roth liked to jot notes in the books; I very much hope they publish (at least online, but preferably in print ...) a complete catalogue of all the titles -- and then maybe a volume cataloguing all the annotations .....

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



19 October 2020 - Monday

Don DeLillo profile | On Human Worth and Excellence review

       Don DeLillo profile

       Highly-regarded American author Don DeLillo has a new short novel out, The Silence; see the publicity pages from Scribner and Picador, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       As part of the publicity blast surrounding publication there have been a variety of profiles and the like; see now Rachel Cooke's profile in The Observer, Don DeLillo: 'I wondered what would happen if power failed everywhere', while last week David Marchese had a Q & A with him in The New York Times, We All Live in Don DeLillo's World. He's Confused by It Too.

       I've never really warmed to DeLillo's work; I haven't seen this one yet, but I can probably live with that.

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



       On Human Worth and Excellence review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Giannozzo Manetti's fifteenth-century On Human Worth and Excellence, another volume in the I Tatti Renaissance Library.

       I've been meaning to get to David Marsh's biography, Giannozzo Manetti: The Life of a Florentine Humanist -- see the Harvard University Press publicity page -- but figured I might as well tackle this one first.

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



18 October 2020 - Sunday

Q & As: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o - Michiko Kakutani - David Karashima - James Wood

       Q & A: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

       At Brittle Paper Billy Kahora has Literature, Language, and Empowerment: An Interview with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
       Among the exchanges:
Billy Kahora
Have you ever thought of writing a novel based in either the U.S. and England where you've spent a significant amount of time ?
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Not yet. But I hope I can do so one day: one novel based in UK and another based in the USA.
       Nice to hear (he is 82, after all); great to hear he still has such ambitions.
       And he reminds us:
For me the big divide is really between Europhone African writers, that is those Africans who write in European languages, and African writers, that is Africans who write in African languages. And I am not talking about quality. Remember there has been a lot of genius in Europhone African literature. What I want is to see more of this genius exploring the possibilities in African languages. It is African languages that need us not European languages.
       I just got my copy of Ngũgĩ's The Perfect Nine yesterday, and should be getting to it soon. Meanwhile, see the publicity pages from The New Press and Harvill, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Q & A: Michiko Kakutani

       In The Guardian Rachel Cooke has a Q & A with former The New York Times-lead reviewer, Michiko Kakutani: 'It is more rewarding to debate than hit delete'.

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



       Q & A: David Karashima

       At the Asymptote blog David Boyd has a Q & A with the author of Who We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami, in The Making of the Murakami Industry: An Interview with David Karashima.
       They address the fact that: "Jay Rubin is in the process of doing a new English translation of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" -- unabridged -- and Karashima adds:
I also imagine it won't be long before an unabridged version of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle will be made available in English. Again, I hope the author and publisher will choose to keep both versions in print.
       Sure, it would be neat if both versions were kept in print, but I'd be happy to ditch the old translation for a complete one.

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



       Q & A: James Wood

       At Aesthetics for Birds Becca Rothfeld has a Q & A with the literary critic James Wood on how criticism works.
       Good to see him point out that: "I think reviewing a book is somewhat different from “doing criticism” as most academics perform it, either in class or in an academic journal".

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



17 October 2020 - Saturday

Science fiction -- the last 10 years | October Asymptote
The Bell in the Lake review

       Science fiction -- the last 10 years

       At Polygon they have a roundtable: "with a group of gatekeepers and tastemakers in science fiction literature to talk about the biggest changes they've seen in the books field over the last decade", in Science fiction has been radically reimagined over the last 10 years.

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



       October Asymptote

       The October issue of Asymptote is now available online, with the usual large amount and variety of material -- more than enough to keep you busy over the weekend.

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



       The Bell in the Lake review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lars Mytting's international bestseller, The Bell in the Lake, now also out in the US from The Overlook Press.

       Mytting achieved considerable success with his (non-fiction) Norwegian Wood -- which is, in fact, about Norwegian wood -- and a previous novel, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, was published in the UK a few years ago but apparently didn't make it to the US. This one is certainly also a crowd-pleaser, but doesn't seem to have attracted too much US-attention yet.

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



16 October 2020 - Friday

(American) National Translation Awards | Baillie Gifford Prize shortlist
Philip Roth v. Philip Roth

       (American) National Translation Awards

       The American Literary Translators Association has announced the winners of the 2020 National Translation Awards in poetry and prose.
       The prose award went to Jordan Stump's translation of Marie NDiaye's The Cheffe; I haven't seen this one, but see the Alfred A. Knopf publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       The poetry award went to Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi's translation of Kim Yideum's Hysteria. (I haven't seen that one either.)

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



       Baillie Gifford Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, a £50,000 prize.
       The winner will be announced on 24 November.

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



       Philip Roth v. Philip Roth

       On 29 March 2021 Ira Nadel's biography Philip Roth is coming out; see the Oxford University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       On 6 April 2021 Blake Bailey's biography Philip Roth is coming out; see the publicity pages from W.W.Norton and Jonathan Cape, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       Yes, we're well set up for the battle of the Roth-biographies next spring !

Roth v. Roth


       While they share the same title, the sub-titles tell a different story: Bailey stakes a claim to definitiveness by insisting his is: The Biography. Nadel takes the obvious alternative tack, positioning his version as: A Counterlife.
       Bailey has also pointed out that: "I was given complete access; Nadel was given none."
       This should be fun !

       I assume that, for those who actually enjoy biographies -- count me out --, two perspectives are better than one. Indeed, the very difference Bailey points out -- Bailey apparently had an actual contract, a "collaboration agreement", with his subject, while Nadel was clearly kept at more than arm's length -- might well make for complementary life-stories. Two times the Roth !
       (Personally, I think people would be better off reading or re-reading Roth's -- often very autobiographical -- fiction (see, for example, The Ghost Writer). But, hey, whatever works for you .....)

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



15 October 2020 - Thursday

Goldsmiths Prize shortlist | Albertine Prize finalists
Full complement at the Swedish Academy

       Goldsmiths Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Goldsmiths Prize, a £10,000 prize rewarding: "fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form"; see also Ellen Peirson-Hagger's overview in the New Statesman.
       I haven't seen any of these, but it's good to see a book by M. John Harrison on the list (The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again) -- one of two septuagenarians on the list. There's also a book by DBC Pierre on the shortlist (Meanwhile in Dopamine City); I'm still reeling from his 2003 Man Booker-winning Vernon God Little, but maybe I should give something by him a try again .....
       The winner will be announced on 11 November.

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



       Albertine Prize finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Albertine Prize, which recognizes: "American readers' favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction" -- five titles selected by a selection committee, with the public (in the US) now able to vote for who should get the prize (through 25 November).
       Two of the finalists are under review at the complete review: Hold Fast Your Crown by Yannick Haenel and Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes; I haven't seen Animalia or Kannjawou.
       The winner will be announced 9 December.

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



       Full complement at the Swedish Academy

       The Nobel Prize in Literature-deciding Swedish Academy has been in considerable turmoil and has had considerable turnover in recent years, but they finally filled the last two still-vacant chairs, 5 and 14, and are now at full-strength again.
       The new academicians are Ingrid Carlberg and Steve Sem-Sandberg -- both of whom have written books that have been translated into English.
       Carlberg's most recent work -- not yet available in English -- is, coïncidentally (?), a biography of ... Alfred Nobel; see also the Norstedts publicity page and the Hedlund Literary Agency information page. Are they hoping for insider insights in handling the Nobel Foundation (which has been none too pleased with the Academy in recent years) ?

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



14 October 2020 - Wednesday

John Dos Passos Prize | Prix de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco
A Dandy in Aspic review

       John Dos Passos Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and it is Aleksandar Hemon.
       The award: "honors an underappreciated writer whose work offers incisive, original commentary on American themes, experiments with form and encompasses a range of human experiences" -- quite a lot to ask for. I don't know about the underappreciated, but, hey .....

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



       Prix de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco

       They've announced the winner of this year's prix de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, a €25,000 prize for: "a well-known French speaking writer for his entire work, on the occasion of the publication of one of his books", and it is Christian Bobin; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Several Bobin titles have been translated into English; the only one under review at the complete review is The Lady in White.

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



       A Dandy in Aspic review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Derek Marlowe's 1966 double-agent thriller, A Dandy in Aspic.

       Marlowe wrote this when he shared a flat with Tom Stoppard and Piers Paul Read -- and was the first of the trio to hit it big, with this. See also Stoppard's introduction to the recent re-issue of the novel.
       It was also made into a film in 1968, the last directed by Anthony Mann, starring Laurence Harvey, Mia Farrow, Peter Cook, and Tom Courtenay. The costume designer on the film was Pierre Cardin.

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



13 October 2020 - Tuesday

Deutscher Buchpreis | Frankfurt Book Fair | Pushkin House Prize shortlist

       Deutscher Buchpreis

       They've announced the winner of this year's German Book Prize, the best-known German novel prize, and it is Annette, ein Heldinnenepos, Anne Weber's novel in verse on the life of Anne Beaumanoir, the neurophysiologist famous both for her heroic actions during the Occupation, and then for having been sentenced to 10 years in prison for her support of the FLN during the Algerian war (she is also still alive, set to turn 97 at the end of the month).
       See also the Matthes & Seitz Berlin publicity page, the New Books in German information page, and a sample translation (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Damion Searls (where they suggest an English title of: 'Epic Annette' ...).
       See also the Deutsche Welle report, Anne Weber wins the German Book Prize 2020.

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



       Frankfurt Book Fair

       This year's Frankfurt Book Fair runs -- in pretty much all-digital form -- from tomorrow through the 18th.
       And at Deutsche Welle Sabine Kieselbach has a Q & A with the fair's president and CEO, Juergen Boos, wondering: Can the Frankfurt Book Fair inspire digitally ?

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



       Pushkin House Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, a £10,000 prize for: "the very best non-fiction writing on Russia".
       There's more information on each of the six titles at the official site -- click on the titles -- but see also Jennifer Eremeeva's piece on how the Pushkin House Shortlisted Books Tackle Authoritarianism in The Moscow Times, which also has more information about all the titles.

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



12 October 2020 - Monday

Reviewing science fiction | Variations on Night and Day review

       Reviewing science fiction

       At Strange Horizons they have A Twentieth-Anniversary Round Table with: "a group of reviewers past and present" where they: "discuss what reviewing is, why it matters -- and why they bother with it".
       Always a subject of interest -- at least hereabouts .....

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



       Variations on Night and Day review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the third volume in ʻAbd al-Raḥmān Munif's City of Salt-series, Variations on Night and Day.

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



11 October 2020 - Sunday

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Q & A | Philip Pullman

       Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Q & A

       At npr Scott Simon has a Q & A with the author, as Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o Says Prison Formed Him As A Writer.
       Ngũgĩ has a new book out -- The Perfect Nine -- which I've been eagerly anticipating and hope to get to soon. Meanwhile, see the publicity pages from The New Press and Harvill, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       You can also get more Ngũgĩ tomorrow, as the German Litprom are having a symposium, African Perspectives: Writers and Literary Experts in Conversation, which you can watch on YouTube.
       Ngũgĩ starts things off with the keynote lecture that sounds like a can't miss: "End Literary Identity Theft: The Future of African Literatures in the World" Then there are panel discussions, with panelists including: José Eduardo Agualusa, Nii Parkes, Maaza Mengiste, and Petina Gappah.

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



       Philip Pullman

       At The Guardian Philip Pullman offers 25 years of His Dark Materials: Philip Pullman on the journey of a lifetime, as his new novella Serpentine -- apparently: "set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust" -- is now out.
       See also the publicity pages at Penguin and Knopf Books for Young Readers, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



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