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20 October 2017 - Friday

New issue of Asymptote | Carl-Zuckmayer-Medaille

       New issue of Asymptote

       The fall/October issue of Asymptote is now up,
       More than enough material to keep you busy, well through the weekend.

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


       They've announced that Yoko Tawada -- who famously writes in both German and Japanese -- will get the 2018 Carl-Zuckmayer-Medal (on 18 January).
       Previous winners of the medal include Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1984), Martin Walser (1990), pre-Nobel Herta Müller (2002), and Uwe Timm (2012). The prize consists not only of a medal, but also a thirty-liter barrel of wine .....
       Several of Tawada's works are under review at the complete review -- most recently Memoirs of a Polar Bear -- and I already have an ARC of the promising-looking The Emissary; pre-order your copy at or

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

19 October 2017 - Thursday

Robert Elsie (1950-2017) | Ma Jian Q & A

       Robert Elsie (1950-2017)

       Translator and promoter of all things Albanian Robert Elsie recently passed away -- but it's good to see that, as the Tirana Times reports, Robert Elsie's last wish comes true as Albanologist laid to rest in Albanian Alps.
       His Albanian Literature site has long been the best online resource about Albanian literature -- but check out also his personal site.
       Several books he edited and/or translated are under review at the complete review -- most notably the collection of Modern Albanian Short Stories published in Northwestern University Press' great 'Writings from an Unbound Europe'-series, Balkan Beauty, Balkan Blood, as well as Fatos Kongoli's novel, The Loser. But he could only do so much in promoting Albanian literature -- which, aside from Ismail Kadare, continues to go largely unnoticed and unavailable in English (don't even look to see how much Kongoli is translated into French, for example ....).

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       Ma Jian Q & A

       At Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel has a Q & A with Chinese author Ma Jian (Beijing Coma, etc.) -- who now lives in Berlin.
       He suggests:
Now we see that China has a problem that was never solved after 1989. After the tanks squashed political consciousness and the morale of the people, we see a China that is now richer, but also sadder and scarier than before. It possesses no humanity whatsoever. The Communist Party keeps its people well-fed, but cooped up in a pretty cage. It offers them no freedom or space to develop their own individuality and way of thinking.

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

18 October 2017 - Wednesday

Man Booker Prize | Prix Femina shortlists
South African Literary Awards shortlists | Monsterhuman review

       Man Booker Prize

       As widely noted, they've announced that this year's winner of the Man Booker Prize for Ficton is Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders.
       Obviously a book we've all heard a lot about, but I haven't seen it yet (nor sought it out), and I don't expect to get to, but see the publicity pages at Random House and Bloomsbury, or get your copy at or

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

       Prix Femina shortlists

       They've announced the prix Femina shortlists, in the three categories: French and foreign fiction (five titles left in the running in each), and non-fiction (seven left); see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Three of the five foreign novel finalists are translations from the English .....
       The winners will be announced 8 November.

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

       South African Literary Awards shortlists

       They recently announced the shortlists for the South African Literary Awards -- which admirably consider writing in a large number of South African languages.
       The winners will be announced 7 November.

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

       Monsterhuman review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold's Monsterhuman, recently out from Dalkey Archive Press.

       It's the second of her books they've brought out; the previous one -- which this one is, in part, about -- got a decent amount of attention, but so far this seems to have slipped under the US/UK review-radar .....
       For those who like that sort of thing, there's quite a bit of the Norwegian literary scene along the way -- including:
     We cross the street, round the corner to the parking lot. And that's where I meet the rangy author for the first time. I will later talk about this meeting more extensively.
     "That was Karl Ove Knausgård," says the Satanist.
     "Never heard of him," I say.
       While not quite Knausgårdian, Monsterhuman is certainly similarly personal (and hefty ...) fiction.

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

17 October 2017 - Tuesday

Premio Planeta | Svetlana Alexievich Q & A

       Premio Planeta

       Getting a jump on the Man Booker -- which announces its winner today -- the Premio Planeta, the world's richest book- (as opposed to author- (like the Nobel)) prize, worth a cool €601,000, has announced its 2017 winner -- and despite there even being a piece on the world's richest book prizes out yesterday (Alessandro Speciale writing at Bloomberg on How to Make a Buck Writing Novels (Tip: Use Spanish)) there appears to be, as I write this, not a single English-language mention of who won .....
       As widely reported -- in other languages -- the winning entry (out of 634 !) was Javier Sierra's manuscript of a Holy Grail-novel, El fuego invisible; see, for example, the El Mundo report.
       Javier Sierra.
       No, none of his work is under review at the complete review -- but even I couldn't get around giving him a one-sentence, two-title mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (yes, I am that conscientiously thorough). What can I say ? Let's just say ... El Confidencial sums it up in their (off-by-a-1000-euros) headline, Javier Sierra, el Dan Brown español, se lleva los 600.000 euros del premio Planeta
       He is very popular, and quite a few of his works have been translated into English. But I really can't recommend any of them. And I'm not holding out high hopes for this one, when it gets translated.

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       Svetlana Alexievich Q & A

       At The Paris Review's The Daily weblog Mieke Chew offers Suitcase Full of Candy: An Interview with Svetlana Alexievich

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

16 October 2017 - Monday

Margaret Atwood: 'Stories in the World'
Ali Smith: 'The novel in the age of Trump'
Literature in ... Kashmir | Black Money review

       Margaret Atwood: 'Stories in the World'

       Margaret Atwood picked up the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade) yesterday, and her acceptance speech, Stories in the World, is now available online; you can also watch the entire prize ceremony here (English-speakers should feel free to jump ahead to the ca. 46 minute mark for the prize hand-over and then her speech -- though, while after an impressive German opening she switches to English, there's a German simultaneous translation rendering it almost English-incomprehensible).

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

       Ali Smith: 'The novel in the age of Trump'

       In the New Statesman they print (an edited version of) Ali Smith's 27 September Goldsmiths Prize lecture, The novel in the age of Trump, which is certainly worth a look.

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

       Literature in ... Kashmir

       In Greater Kashmir Muzaffar Karim tries to (emphatically) make the case for/against Kashmir: The uselessness of literature !!
       Apparently, the situation there has gotten a bit ... confused, as he wonders:
why are people who deal with facts trying to write fiction and vice versa ? This is bad.
       Well, it ain't good .....

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

       Black Money review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ross Macdonald's 1966 novel, Black Money, now also collected in the most recent Library of America Macdonald collection, Four Later Novels.

       Some really great writing here; interesting to see that, while of course always popular in the US/UK, many of the foreign editions are long out of print -- only the Germans (thanks to Diogenes) really seem on top of things -- with this one out just last year in a new translation). Getting the voice right might be part of it -- though he doesn't seem to be that hard to translate, once you get the hang of it.

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

15 October 2017 - Sunday

German literature in ... Arabic | 'Georgia: Made by Characters'

       German literature in ... Arabic

       In The National Saeed Saeed reports that A wealth of German literature awaits Arabic publication.
       Jordanian-German translator Mustafa Al Slaiman is quoted at length -- including noting that:
"If you want me to be to totally frank, I will say that, yes, we have many publishers in the Arab world but for many, their motivations are wrong. They don't operate with the ideals that powers the most esteemed international publishing houses in Europe or the United States.

"The goals are mostly financial and profit-driven. The idea of pushing the culture forward is not really there and that is a sad thing."
       It is a sad thing -- but I'm afraid most European and US houses also have goals that are: "mostly financial and profit-driven".
       And while I'm all for any encouragement to get to the works of Peter Weiss ...:
Other German works that are important to translate are the 18th-century poetry of Friedrich Schiller or the more modern 20th-century poetry of Peter Weiss.
       (I guess you could say all his work is 'poetic' -- but he didn't publish any poetry .....)

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       'Georgia: Made by Characters'

       France is this year's 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair (see their Frankfurt in French-site), but next year it's Georgia's turn -- and there web-presence is now up: Georgia Made by Characters.
       I'm hoping for a flood (well, trickle, in(to) English ...) of translations, but I note that the Three Percent translation databases list no US translations from the Georgian for 2018 yet. And none for 2017. And none for 2016. Sigh.
       There are a few Georgian title under review at the complete review, but I really would like to be able to add more .....

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

14 October 2017 - Saturday

Prix de la Page 111 | Writing in ... Singapore | The Gurugu Pledge review

       Prix de la Page 111

       They read 222 page 111s, came up with an eleven-title (page ?) longlist, read and discussed the finalists in a 111-minute podcast, and have now announced that Roi. by Mika Biermann takes the prize. (They don't seem to have an official page, just one on the Facebook, so forget that, but see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.)
       As is often the case with French literary prizes, it's more about the honor than the cash: the payout is a mere 111 centimes (in 1-centime coins).
       See also the Anacharsis publicity page for Roi., or get your copy at

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

       Writing in ... Singapore

       In the Straits Times Darryl Whetter makes the case that Sing Lit comes of age.
       Among his points of emphasis, however, is:
At a recent Tropics of the Imagination conference hosted by James Cook University in Singapore, I argued in a paper that the rise of creative writing education here is part of a literary coming of age. Lasalle, for example has a Master of Arts degree in creative writing, of which I am the inaugural programme leader.
       I have to admit that I disagree with his spin; indeed, I was more heartened by the European examples he cites:
It's also heartening that there is such a burgeoning interest in creative writing education here, for in this respect, Singaporeans might be pleasantly surprised to hear they're ahead of many developed Western countries.

Continental Europe remains so disinterested in creative writing that, according to Lasalle MA student and debut novelist Olivier Castaignede, his native France counts just one such master's programme. A Spanish professor was quoted as saying that he's first trying to launch a creative writing master's programme in English (at a Spanish university) in hopes of then branching out into Spanish.
       (I (grudgingly) accept that there's something to be said for (some) creative writing MFA programmes -- yes, maybe even/particularly in the case of a place/literature such as (contained, but multi-lingual) Singapore's -- but on the whole think writing is better placed (as well as both learnt and practiced) outside the academy.)

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

       The Gurugu Pledge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel's African-migrants novel, The Gurugu Pledge, recently out from And Other Stories.

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

13 October 2017 - Friday

Ishiguro in ... Iran | George Andreou Q & A | Houellebecq in Frankfurt

       Ishiguro in ... Iran

       In the Tehran Times Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet reported that local authors were on board with the Swedish Academy's choice this year, in Iranian writers welcome Nobel prize for Kazuo Ishiguro -- which includes one of my favorite reactions (though this is presumably due in no small part to how it was translated), by Ahmad Puri:
"Ishiguro is his due to receive the prize," he said and added, "Bon appetite !"
       A reader also points me to the more detailed Iranwire story by Arash Azizi, Reading Ishiguro in Tehran.
       Among the observations of interest:
[Ishiguro] is also very well known in Iran, where he can perhaps be counted as one of the most-read novelists in the country.

Every single novel by Ishiguro has been translated into Persian, often more than once, and not just by anybody, but by the giants of Persian literature and translation.

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

       George Andreou Q & A

       At the Harvard Gazette Colleen Walsh has a Q & A with the new director of Harvard University Press, George Andreou, in New adventures in editing.

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

       Houellebecq in Frankfurt

       With France the 'guest of honour' at the ongoing Frankfurt Book Fair they have ton of writers on site -- including Submission-author Michel Houellebecq, and at Deutsche Welle Jochen Kürten reports on his appearance there, in French author Michel Houellebecq in Frankfurt Book Fair's spotlight.
       Some good quotes and suggestions -- including:
Maybe the Germans, he said, should specialize in sophisticated pornography as a chance to keep the literature industry up and running.
       And good to see him note:
Houellebecq argued that literary translators in Europe need to be paid more. European translation, he pointed out, is the only way to make sure that European nations read more than just their own books and translations from English.

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

12 October 2017 - Thursday

Warwick Prize for Women in Translation shortlist | Prix Goncourt, next round
2017 MacArthur Fellows | Writing in ... France | Tony Duvert reviews

       Warwick Prize for Women in Translation shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, selected from 58 eligible entries (admirably revealed !).
       A UK prize, not all these are US-available -- indeed, I've only seen one, Susan Bernofsky's translation of Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Tawada Yoko.
       The winner will be announced 15 November.

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

       Prix Goncourt, next round

       The prix Goncourt has announced its deuxième sélection -- not yet the final shortlist, as a troisième will follow (on 30 October) before the winner is announced (on 6 November) -- yes, after their starting longlist, the Goncourt has a short and then a shorter list .....

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

       2017 MacArthur Fellows

       As widely noted, they've announced the 2017 MacArthur Fellows -- the US$625,000 "no-strings-attached award".
       As usual, there are a few writers in the crowd -- Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward, as well as playwright Annie Baker.

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

       Writing in ... France

       With France this year's 'guest of honour' at the (ongoing) Frankfurt Book Fair there's even more attention than usual to what's going on there (at least in Germany ...), and at Deutsche Welle Jochen Kürten suggests 8 French heavyweight authors to check out at the Frankfurt Book Fair -- which includes a Q & A with prominent literary critic Iris Radisch, who just published a book called: Warum die Franzosen so gute Bücher schreiben ('Why the French write such good books') -- see also the Rowohlt foreign rights page.
       Among Radisch's explanations:
It is connected with libertinage, with the experimental love lives of the French

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

       Tony Duvert reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two Tony Duvert titles -- both originally published in French in 1978, and just out in English in beautiful little pocket-sized editions from Wakefield Press:        These are very short books -- fifty pages and less -- but both enjoyable (with Odd Jobs the more obviously entertaining).
       Duvert seems to be having a moment: Semiotext(e) have brought out several of his other books -- most recently Atlantic Island; get your copy at or

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

11 October 2017 - Wednesday

African literary prizes | Paul Olchvary Q & A
Forever and a Death review

       African literary prizes

       They've announced the winners of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature -- James Murua's weblog has a run-down of the various category winners (because there doesn't appear to be an official one yet ...) -- with Henry Ole Kulet's The Elephant Dance winning the English fiction category (see also, for example, Why Ole Kulet, a winner yet again, deserves more respect from critics by Goro wa Kamau in the Daily Nation), and Tom Olali's promising-sounding Mashetani wa Alepo winning the Kiswahili category.

       They've also announced that The Heresiad, by Ikeogu Oke has won this year's Nigeria Literature Prize (they rotate this prize through four genres; 2017 was a poetry year); see, for example, Ikeogu Oke is 2017 winner of Nigeria Prize for Literature by Prisca Sam-Duru in Vanguard.

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

       Paul Olchvary Q & A

       At hlo they have a Q & A with translator-from-the-Hungarian and New Europe Books-publisher Paul Olchvary

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

       Forever and a Death review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a another posthumous Donald E. Westlake novel from Hard Case Crime, Forever and a Death -- which apparently started out as a treatment for a possible James Bond movie. (No Bond, or Bond-like character left over, however.)

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

10 October 2017 - Tuesday

German Book Prize | ACFNY Translation Prize

       German Book Prize

       The Man Booker-imitation German Book Prize has announced its winner, selected from 200 (disappointingly: not revealed ...) titles that were considered, and it is Die Hauptstadt by Robert Menasse; see also the DeutscheWelle report, Robert Menasse wins German Book Prize 2017.
       Since it just came out in German it's not yet available in English, but MacLehose Press has bought the UK rights, and maybe some US publisher will have a go at it. See also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page, or check out a sample translation (warning ! dreaded pdf format !). And for those who can't wait for the English translation, it appears to be available -- and selling quite well ("Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,140", as I write this) -- at the US

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       ACFNY Translation Prize

       A reminder that this Thursday, 12 October, at 19:30, they'll have the ACFNY Translation Prize ceremony
       Adrian West will pick up the prize, for his translation of Josef Winkler's Die Verschleppung/The Abduction -- and the author will also be present ! John Wray will join them in conversation, and Jeremy M. Davies will deliver the laudatio
       Sounds like it'll be good. I plan to attend .....

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

9 October 2017 - Monday

(American) National Translation Awards | Uselessness review

       (American) National Translation Awards

       The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has announced the winners of their 2017 National Translation Awards.
       Esther Allen won the prose category, for her translation of Antonio Di Benedetto's Zama, while Daniel Borzutzky won the poetry category for his translation of Galo Ghigliotto's Valdivia; see the co•im•press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Uselessness review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Puerto Rican author Eduardo Lalo's Uselessness, just out in English from the University of Chicago Press -- the second Lalo they've published.

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

8 October 2017 - Sunday

Writing in ... Nigeria | Indian writing abroad | Fear review

       Writing in ... Nigeria

       In Vanguard Morenike Taire wonders, Where is Nigerian Literature ? -- focussing on the domestic scene, as:
Helon Habila, former Arts Editor for the Vanguard; as well as Chimamanda Adizie who won the 'junior Booker prize' and the Orange prize respectively, have moved on from Nigerian affairs, choosing, like Okri, to be Nigerian writers at large. [...] No home based writer is given any recognition, except in literary circles.
       Taire suggests:
This state of affairs might have more to do with the dearth of the entire industry than with the literary giants. Nobody is rewarding writers, so nobody wants to write. The level of literature that is available is therefore abysmal in nature. There is no competition, no inspiration, no encouragement.
       There certainly are institutional issues -- but I'm not sure lack of 'competition' is (even near) the heart of the problem. And while 'rewards' are certainly helpful, many writers nevertheless continue even without them .....

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       Indian writing abroad

       At Kanishka Gupta has a Q & A with David Higham Associates' 'literary' agent Jessica Woollard, in What does it take for an Indian writer to be published abroad ? A literary agent has some answers.

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

       Fear review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dirk Kurbjuweit's socio-psychological thriller Fear.

       An interesting publishing path into English -- Australian publisher Text were the first to bring this out, earlier this year (continuing the somewhat surprising small trend of Australian publishers taking the lead with books in translation, even/especially from the European patch ...), and has now just come out from Harper in the US. It will be out shortly from Anansi in Canada, while the UK edition is only coming out at the beginning of 2018, from Orion.
       Kurbjuweit tries too hard/much, to my mind (and too obviously, all of it) -- but there's no question that it is a book that stirs up a lot of questions and issues. And so also my review of it is one of my longer ones, just under 2000 words .....

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

7 October 2017 - Saturday

'Books from Norway' | Second rounds of French literary prizes

       'Books from Norway'

       Norway is the 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019, and while they've long had the useful NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) website they've now added a Books from Norway site, which looks promising.
       Norwegian literature is doing well in English (and internationally) -- with Karl Ove Knausgaard, Per Petterson, and Jo Nesbø (all with multiple titles under review at the complete review) leading the way -- but there are so many others, too (led by but hardly limited to Dag Solstad and Jan Kjærstad (also under review ...)).

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

       Second rounds of French literary prizes

       Several French literary prizes made their deuxièmes sélections this week, including the Renaudot (leaving nine novels, and four works of non-fiction in the running in their respective categories), and the Femina -- which continues the odd French tradition of adding books in the second round that they apparently hadn't gotten to the first time around (as well as cutting some from the first round).
       The Femina has three categories, including foreign fiction -- always interesting to see what's of international interest elsewhere.

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

6 October 2017 - Friday

More on the Nobel Prize | Geschwister-Scholl-Preis | Nepali writing in ... Qatar

       More on the Nobel Prize

       Yesterday's post offers a wide selection of links to information surrounding the announcement that Kazuo Ishiguro will receive this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, so if you haven't checked that out yet, that's a good place to start.

       Overall, the reaction has been very positive -- in the English-speaking world in no small part, it seems, because Ishiguro is an English-writing author whose work is familiar to a large readership (certainly compared to that of many of the recent Nobel laureates) and surprisingly many commentators apparently prefer to have the familiar validated than be exposed to (or, as they presumably see it, confronted with) something new and different.
       While Ishiguro has often figured in the discussions of possible Nobel candidates, he seems to have sort of gotten lost in the crowded field of British authors that people presumably saw as similarly likely -- say, Ian McEwan or A.S.Byatt. Indeed, he was not on this year's Ladbrokes betting list -- a rare and somewhat surprising complete miss for them. (He has not been prolific in the past decade, which presumably led them to let him slip off the list; the last time he was on it, as far as I can tell, was in 2013 (at 100/1 -- already ominously down from 2012's 66/1 ....).)
       He seems a relatively tame choice -- too obviously a counterweight to a selection such as Alexievich in 2015 (never mind last year's outright mistake) -- which seems unfair, because his writing certainly is award-worthy. Still, my preference would obviously have been for someone who isn't quite such a well- and widely-established literary star.
       (Reaction from the international-literature-interested community -- translators and publishers, in particular -- has been oddly muted; I wonder if the scheduling of the ALTA conference, which meant many of them were traveling or busy yesterday, prevented them from weighing in. Surprisingly, many of the usual suspects -- bloggers, international-literature periodicals and their blogs, and translators -- didn't have anything to say (or any opportunity ...) one way or another. I would have expected more expressions of disappointment -- though last year's selection presumably already took the wind out of a lot of these sails.)

       A few more links of possible interest:

        - Kazuo Ishiguro's Nobel interview

        - The Harry Ransom Center bought Ishiguro's archive a few years ago -- a wise investment, it looks like. See their press release, Students, Researchers and Public Have Access to Archive of Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro

       A few more Ishiguro-appreciations from critics:        And at The New Republic Alex Shephard ponders What Happened to the Nobel Prize in Literature ? finding: "The Nobel has become, well, fun" (though I have to admit, my reaction to that claim is: Huh ?). I don't really think the prize lends itself to such attempts at trend-spotting -- and note that Alexievich is a poor fit in some respects (she was one of the more obscure recent winners). Indeed, I wouldn't be at all surprised for the Swedish Academy to tack in a completely different direction again next year.

       The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and the big banquet will take place 10 December -- most of which you'll be able to watch live online.

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


       They've announced that this year's Geschwister-Scholl-Preis, a €10,000 prize for a book that demonstrates 'intellectual independence' and promotes 'civil freedom, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic courage', among other things, will go (on 20 November) to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Return, by Hisham Matar; get your copy at or

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

       Nepali writing in ... Qatar

       One doesn't hear nearly enough about Nepali writing anywhere, even in Nepal, so it's good to see something like Usha Wagle Gautam's report in the Gulf Times, Giving Nepali literature a voice, a Q & A with the "former president of International Nepali Literary Society [...] a prominent name in the Qatar-based Nepali literary fraternity".
       How neat that there is such a fraternity !

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

5 October 2017 - Thursday

The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to ... Kazuo Ishiguro
(American) National Book Award finalists
Governor General's Literary Awards finalists
La Belle Roumaine review

       The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to ... Kazuo Ishiguro

       They've announced that the 2017 Nobel laureate in literature is Kazuo Ishiguro.
       The official press announcement explains he is an author:
who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world

       Ishiguro has often been in the Nobel discussion -- albeit rarely as a favorite -- and ticks off some of the boxes they presumably wanted to hit this year, including that cross-cultural background, and being a writer in the (very) traditional(-novelist) mold (with popular appeal helped along by some popular but still serious movie adaptations).
       (Yes, after last year the Swedish Academy retreated to (complete) safety -- Ishiguro is a fine writer but already up there among the best-known writers who are considered literary (as opposed to purely 'popular') -- and he writes in English. This is about as 'safe' and unruffling a choice as it was humanly possible to make ..... And he'll cut a fine figure at the Nobel banquet, which they desperately want after last year's no-show.)
       It would appear that Ishiguro is also the first school-trained writer to win the Nobel -- he got his creative writing MA (the UK equivalent of the now so widespread American MFA) from the University of East Anglia.

       Several Ishiguro titles are under review at the complete review:
       Ishiguro does not appear to have an official web presence, but the British Council information page offers a good overview and see also his author page at publisher Faber & Faber.

       Apparently, Ishiguro learned he was getting the prize not from the Swedish Academy -- who try to be the ones to break the news, but apparently don't always have the right contact information etc. ... -- but from the BBC; see their report, Kazuo Ishiguro: Nobel Literature Prize is 'a magnificent honour', which has video of the call, and more.

       Early, more in-depth reports and considerations include:
       More basic 'he won'-overview pieces include:
       Several sites have 'Ishiguro-at'-collections, covering both reviews of, and writings by:
       Here are links to a few Q & As with Ishiguro over the years:
       There are also discussions (of sorts) re. Ishiguro taking the prize -- check out those at the usual discussion boards:
  • The already extensive Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 thread at the World Literature Forum

  • The Nobel Prize 2017thread at The Fictional Woods continues with discussions of the Ishiguro selection

  • The 2017 Nobel Prize thread at The Mookse and the Gripes discussion board at Goodreads picks up again now that the winner has been announced

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

       (American) National Book Award finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2017 (American) National Book Awards, in the four categories they have (fiction, non, poetry, young people's stuff).
       The winners will be announced 15 November.

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

       Governor General's Literary Awards finalists

       The 70 finalists for the (Canadian) Governor General's Literary Awards, in seven categories each in English and French, have been announced
       The winners will be announced 1 November, and the prize ceremony will be held on 29 November.

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

       La Belle Roumaine review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dumitru Tsepeneag's La Belle Roumaine just out from Dalkey Archive Press.

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

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