They've announced that Carolin Emcke will get the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade this year (officially, at the end of the Frankfurt Book Fair, on 23 October).
(Svetlana Alexievich won this on 2013, Orhan Pamuk in 2005, Susan Sontag in 2003, Chinua Achebe in 2002, etc.)
There was a time in her youth when she came to question this all-consuming investment; she wondered if to live for nothing else besides literature wasn't its own kind of idolatry.
"I thought it was wrong," she told me, at last raising her cup of long cold tea to her lips.
At this point, I don't think it's wrong.ď
Her new collection (alas, *only* non-fiction), Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, is due out shortly; see the HMH publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In The Bookseller Katherine Cowdrey reports that Storytel buys Swedish publisher Norstedts for £12.5m and sure, there are a lot of local factors (Norstedts wasn't an independent, but rather a subsidiary of troubled Kooperativa Förbundet, who apparently were ... eager for the cash) but still ... venerable Norstedts ("Sweden's oldest publishing house, founded in 1823") sold to an outfit that: "är en digital abonnemangstjänst som strömmar ljudböcker till din mobiltelefon" ?!??
Yes, their turnover is higher than Norstedts' ... but, hell, I would have figured the prime real estate (that is one nice headquarters) alone would have been worth more than £12,500,000 .....
After a while when it looked like print was re-asserting itself over e-formats, this is some cold shower -- a sign of things to come ?
The Michel Houellebecq exhibit Rester vivant opens at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris tomorrow and certainly sounds ... interesting.
Fiachra Gibbons has a preview for AFP:
The show spread over 18 rooms of the Palais de Tokyo gallery reveals not just Houellebecq the accomplished photographer-poet and cynical social commentator, but Houellebecq the dog lover, maker of lesbian soft porn films and disappointed romantic in love with the landscapes of rural France.
And if that's not enough for you:
The show even includes a half-built red-brick reliquary for the writer's bones.
Hard to pass up, if you're in the neighborhood.
The show runs through 11 September.
Quite a few Houellebecq titles are under review at the complete review, including his most recent novel, Submission.
The University of Malta (or, as it is more appealingly called in Maltese, L-Università ta' Malta) has launched a 'Diploma in Maltese Literature' (meaning, apparently, that there previously was not the possibility to get a degree in Maltese Literature ...); apparently it's still something to only be studied under the cover of night, as it turns out it is An evening Diploma in Maltese Literature.
(I have no idea what the difference between 'daytime' and 'evening' diplomas might be ......)
At Malta Today Teodor Reljic has a Q & A with the head of the department responsible for the diploma.
Despite my conviction that Maltese literature is certainly deserving of greater study (and a wider readership), I am not sure I am reassured by statements such as:
In setting up this Diploma, we have simply followed upon this growing cultural and professional milieu, a move that has taken us well beyond the traditional scholastic approach to literature.
So my answer to your first question would be that this Diploma is viable because it lays claim to a domain of literary production and performance that is both vibrant and long-standing.
(The only translated-from-the-Maltese title under review at the complete review is Oliver Friggieri's Children Come by Ship.)
NRC Boeken have announced that a new novel by A.F.Th. van der Heijden, President Tsaar op Obama Beach, -- about MH17, the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine in 2014 (with many Dutch passengers on board) -- will be serialized over sixty days in NRC Handelsblad, starting 25 June.
So this will be the new van der Heijden, published this fall ?
Hardly -- instead, it's the prolific author's 800-pager Kwaadschiks -- the sixth and latest in his 'De tandeloze tijd' series -- that is due in September; see the De Bezige Bij publicity page.
Van der Heijden is now no longer untranslated-into-English -- Tonio came out last year -- but publishers have shied away from his generally very long books; several are under review at the complete review (see, for example, Vallende ouders, the first (sort of) in 'De tandeloze tijd'-cycle).
And while The Girls by Emma Cline is much-discussed all over, van der Heijden's own inspired twist on the Manson tale, Het schervengericht remains unavailable in English ... (yes, it is long ...).
See also the Dutch Foundation for Literature van der Heijden-page.
This book will be exchanged and borrowed and talked about in reading circles and college literature departments for its empowering access to world literature, for its resourcefulness, and for opening the doors to literature from anywhere in the world.
But you knew that, and you've got your copy already, right ?
See also the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, or at your local bookseller, who, I hope, has copies piled high .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Emma Smith on Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, Shakespeare's First Folio, just out from Oxford University Press.
Somewhat confusingly, Smith has also just come out with The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio (see the publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- but, hey, if you want more First Folio fun .....
Sixteen books by Taiwan authors have been translated into English, French, Japanese, Korean and Swedish as part of efforts by National Museum of Taiwan Literature in southern Taiwan's Tainan City to expand the international reach of local literature.
At hlo they have a (far-too-small) sampling of recent Hungarian books (recent in Hungary that is -- and not close to English translation, sigh) from prominent (in Hungary ...) authors.
Esterházy Péter registers even in the US/UK (The Book of Hrabal, etc.), and who could resist his 'Pancreas Diary', which apparently asks the pressing question: "Can you write about pancreatic cancer as a love affair ?"
The New York Times Book Review's 'By the Book' Q & A this weekend features A.B.Yehoshua, who proves himself to be almost comically conservative in his reading habits -- there's nary a present-day author in sight here, at least until the very end, when he -- warily ? -- claims his next bookstore purchase will be ... the first in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle-series.
He's pretty up-front about it, however: "Very possibly I am missing out on important genres. But itís too late to change my conservatism."
I recently reviewed David Foenkinos' mega-bestselling 2014 prix Renaudot-winning novel about artist Charlotte Salomon, Charlotte, and now they've announced that Bibo Bergeron Set to Direct 'Charlotte Salomon' Animated Biopic, based on her Life ? Or Theatre ? (which you can page through in its entirety here).
Well, at least Foenkinos is not involved .....
(Miriam Toews is apparently co-writing the screenplay.)
(The Foenkinos still does not seem to have made much of an impact/impression in the US, going un-reviewed and, apparently, generally unnoticed; I can't recall an international bestseller (half a million copies sold in France ! that's huge) that arrived this DOA.)
The Princess of Asturias Awards used to be the Prince of Asturias Awards, until they promoted the guy to 'king of Spain' and had to hand them off to the princess; they are awarded in a variety of categories, including 'Sports' and 'International Cooperation', and they've now announced that Richard Ford will be getting the Literature award -- and the tidy "cash prize of €50,000" that goes with it .
None of Ford's work is under review at the complete review.
The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards are a bit odd -- they're: "open to passport holders of emerging nations in three categories", but only certain regions for each category, e.g. only Latin American and Caribbean artists in the film category .....
They announced the longlists for this year's awards recently, and among them is that for fiction, limited to authors from the 'Asia-Pacific' area.
Two of the titles are under review at the complete review -- Man Tiger, by Eka Kurniawan, and The Four Books, by Yan Lianke -- though I do hope and expect to get to several more (including The Bones of Grace, by Tahmima Anam, and The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan).
Translator Gregory Rabassa -- best-known as the translator of the Gabriel García Márquez classic, One Hundred Years of Solitude -- has passed away; see, for example, Matt Schudel's obituary in The Washington Post -- or Thomas Hoeksema's 1978 Q & A with him in Translation Review.
Several Rabassa-translations are under review at the complete review -- as is his memoir, If This Be Treason.
The Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt is a leading German prize for a book-in-translation, with the winning author receiving €20,000 and the translator €15,000 (not quite Man Booker International Prize money, but pretty close), and they've announced that this year's prize goes to the German translation of Shumona Sinha's 2011 novel, Assommons les pauvres !; see also the Deutsche Welle report, Tales from France's immigration office win German International Literature Award
Among the books it beat out: Valeria Luiselli's The Story of my Teeth and Ivan Vladislavić's Double Negative (the latter the only translated-from-the-English title to make the shortlist).
Sinha's work -- see the Éditions de l'Olivier publicity page -- won a couple of French prizes, and foreign rights have also been sold in Italian and Bulgarian -- but apparently not in the US/UK yet.
(I'm not sure that the publishers are helping their cause with the foreign rights brochure (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), where the suggested English title is: 'Knock out the poors !')
The Premio Gregor von Rezzori - Città di Firenze "is awarded is [sic] for the best work of foreign fiction published in Italy within the last year", and they've announced that Blinding, by Mircea Cărtărescu, has taken this year's prize, beating out books by Dany Laferrière, Yiyun Li, Dinaw Mengestu, and Lorrie Moore.
Somewhat confusingly, they also award a Premio Gregor von Rezzori for the best translation of the year, which went to Fulvio Ferrari for his translation of Fredrik Sjöberg's The Fly Trap.
The Cărtărescu is also available in English, from Archipelago Books: see their publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced that the Harry Ransom Center Acquires Archive of Indian Author Raja Rao -- though the 'acquisition' was a cheap one: apparently the archive was donated by the estate.
(Given what some writer's archives have gone for, I wonder whether this one could have been sold; the University of Texas is an appropriate repository, but I wonder if there was any Indian bidding/interest.)
Raja Rao doesn't get that much attention nowadays -- maybe this will help ? -- and the only one of his works under review at the complete review is the relatively minor Comrade Kirillov (but I do hope to get to more).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Thomas Glavinic's Lisa.
This has not been translated into English, but you can probably do without it .....
But I'm trying to catch up on my Glavinic-coverage and have had this one lying around for a while, so .....
The Czech Franz Kafka Prize briefly got wider notice when it was noticed that in 2004 and 2005 they selected the writers who would go on to win the win the Nobel Prize in the same year (Jelinek and Pinter).
They've continued to give the prize to authors who are often in the Nobel discussion -- Peter Handke, Amos Oz, Yves Bonnefoy, Murakami Haruki -- and even when they give it to less wiely known (abroad) talent it's worth noting (such as 2012 winner Daniela Hodrová, author of e.g. A Kingdom of Souls).
They've now determined who is getting this year's prize (in the fall), and if the announcement isn't large-scale or loud, yet, it is, apparently Blindly-author Claudio Magris -- another fine selection.
At Words without Borders' Dispatches weblog Buzz Poole has a Q & A with Péter Zilahy.
Sad to hear about his The Last Window-Giraffe (which has been: "translated into more than twenty languages, including a UK edition that got great reviews, but its practically unknown in North America outside niche literary circles"):
This book has been declined by the great American publishers, large and small.
One of them wrote a letter I still have, saying this was the best book he ever had to refuse, but he was afraid that the work is too complex for the American audience.
No one believes in the reader.
In wanting to report about some recent translation prizes I find myself flummoxed by the official sites' apparent indifference to getting the word out: the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes were announced almost a week ago, but they apparently can't be bothered to publish a press release on the site, or update their pages (even the homepage makes a big deal about the finalists but, last I checked, offers no word on who won); in my desperation I even checked their 'Facebook' page (and almost nothing can get me to check a 'Facebook' page), but there was no update there yet either .....
Via Twitter I learn that apparently the recent translation of Les Misérables by Christine Donougher took the fiction prize, but I'm still looking for official confirmation .....
The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize was announced more recently -- and over the non-workday weekend -- so they have a slightly better excuse for delays -- and if not yet (as I write this) at the official site at least it's noted in an aside at the OCCT weblog: it seems Philip Roughton (for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson's The Heart of Man) and Paul Vincent and John Irons (for theirs of 100 Dutch-language Poems) shared the prize.
I fail to understand why prizes that have decent web-presences -- and apparently have some difficulty in getting press coverage (I've not found any press coverage of either of these two prize-announcements as I write this) -- don't post the news online in timeliest fashion (so folks can get the news, and link to it, etc.).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pascal Garnier's Too Close to the Edge, as Gallic Books kindly keeps the very welcome translations coming.
This one is one of his more over the top ones -- closer to Jean-Patrick Manchette, with his Fatale-type excesses, than, say, Simenon -- but it still works.
In The National Ben East looks how International Prize for Arabic Fiction aims to make Arabic literature accessible to English audience.
Prizes do help bring books to publishers' (and others' -- like me, who tends to report on them a lot in these pages) attention -- not necessarily just winning titles, but shortlisted, etc. ones too, and obviously the seal-of-approval a prize win gives helps sell foreign rights.
Naturally, a generous prize like the IPAF -- which: "covers the cost of the English translation" of the winning title -- helps a lot more ....
Still, one hopes, or at least wishes, that foreign publishers are able to look beyond the attention-getting prize winners; as we know all too well from US/UK literary prizes, great books often don't get prize-recognition, and that's surely the case abroad as well.
This outsized so-called classic should have stayed in the past.
(The reviewer also notes: "this book's got more boobs than a Porky's film", which I have to admit I did not notice.
(There's some nudity, but the breast-mentions did not seem that prominent -- but then I've never seen a 'Porky's' film to compare it to .....))
The phenomenon -- and phenomenal success of -- online literature in China is something that, as I have frequently noted , isn't noted or noticed nearly enough abroad.
Sixth Tone now offer a sliver more insight, in Li You's Q&A With Author Zhang Wei on China's Online Literature.
Zhang Wei is apparently : "China's wealthiest and most prolific internet novelist", having: "earned 110 million yuan (over $16 million) in royalties last year" .....
He certainly is cocky:
Sixth Tone: How do you write so fast ?
Zhang Wei: That's a tough question to answer. All I can say is I'm gifted.
And maybe we really are missing something in not having access to much of this Chinese internet literature ...:
If Game of Thrones were a Chinese internet novel, I don't think it'd have much success; its content just isn't outstanding enough.
The TV show made it very appealing, but if it were just in text form, it wouldn't stand out from the sea of other internet fiction in China.
They've announced that Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You has won this year's Prix Relay des Voyageurs-Lecteurs, a sort of 'best travel-read' award.
(It's actually been around for a while, originally under the more grandiose name of Prix Ulysse, and there's been an interesting set of winners, including Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart (UK title: Mend the Living) in 2014 and Antoine Laurain's The President's Hat in 2012; of course, Jeffrey Archer has also won this prize (in 2010) .....)
The Ng was one of three written-in-English finalists -- with Richard Flanagan's Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North one of the others --, with the fourth finalist a book by the great Jean Echenoz.
Get your copy of Everything I Never Told You at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Okay, it's a memoir prize, and it tends to go to authors of a fairly advanced age (octogenarian seems to be the norm); still, nice to see that this year's prix Saint-Simon goes to Jean d'Ormesson (for Je dirai malgré tout que cette vie fut belle) -- an author who is turning ninety-one next week.
New York Review Books have just re-issued one of his novels, and I will be getting to The Glory of the Empire soon; meanwhile, see their publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The International DUBLIN Literary Award (formerly IMPAC-subsidized, but no longer) is that weird prize for books written in, or translated into, English that are nominated by libraries from (sort of) all around the world, making for a long 'longlist' (for some of the problematic issues surrounding this procedure, see my discussion of this year's longlist).
They've now announced this year's winning title -- Family Life (by Akhil Sharma), which has received much praise elsewhere as well (and has also been out for quite a while -- one of the other issues with the prize is that its timetable means it isn't entirely ... au courant).
Not a title under review at the complete review, I'm afraid, and I suspect it won't be any time soon(er or later); but see also the W.W.Norton publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Translation prizes in other languages/countries are always interesting, revealing what's being translated elsewhere.
So also with the Dutch Europese Literatuurprijs, which has now announced its shortlist -- which, rather surprisingly, includes no translations from the English.
The only shortlisted title under review at the complete review is Michel Houellebecq's Submission.
If you're in the Massachusetts-Berkshires vicinity on Monday, 13 June, you can see and hear me talk about my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction at The Bookstore in Lenox, at 17:30 !
Even if you already have a well-thumbed copy (as I assume you do -- how could you go this long without one ?), surely it's worthwhile to hear me speak, right ?