The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello's 1926 novel, One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand.
This 1990 William Weaver translation is now (just about) out in a new edition from Spurl.
Yet another French literary prize honoring ... American books -- in this case, first novels: the prix Page America, which has now announced its 2018 winner: In the Distance, by Hernán Diaz (which, you might remember, was Pulitzer Prize finalist this year); see the Livres Hebdoreport.
See also the official book site, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's The Snail on the Slope.
This is just out in a new translation, by Olena Bormashenko, the latest of several Strugatskys Chicago Review Press has brought out over the last few years in their very welcome revival of this classic author-team.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and the six finalists are:
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
The Long Take by Robin Robertson
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
Milkman by Anna Burns
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
(Yes, none of these are under review at the complete review; I haven't seen any of these.)
The novel in verse -- with photographs, too, apparently --, The Long Take, remains in the running .....
(This one is only coming out in the US next January (though presumably a Man Booker win would push that release date up ...); see the Knopf publicity page or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com, or get it already at Amazon.co.uk.)
The winner will be announced 16 October.
The National Book Foundation has announced that Isabel Allende will receive the 2018 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
She's the first author who doesn't write in English to get the award; the list of previous winners includes ... quite a variety.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pablo Katchadjian's What to Do.
This came out from Dalkey Archive Press a couple of years ago, and they're bringing out his Thanks later this year; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Of course, the book which he is best known for, his 'fattened' Borges, El Aleph engordado, is unlikely to be available in English anytime soon; see, for example, Lucy Popescu's overview in the Literary Review.
Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings recently came out in Norwegian, from Mime -- see their publicity page -- and what's really impressive here is that they had twelve translators tackle it -- not to get it done fast; instead, as James explains:
they didn't divide the book by section, they divided it by CHARACTER.
And EACH translator a different role.
They literally casted for the book with leading novelists, playwrights, philosophers, and performers.
They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the five finalists for this year's (German-language) Swiss Book Prize, selected from 85 titles.
They include works by Peter Stamm and Heinz Helle; the winner will be announced 11 November.
They've announced the winners of this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, celebrating: "the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding" -- Salt Houses by Hala Alyan winning the fiction prize (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates winning the non-fiction prize.
They get to pick up the prizes on 28 October.
Popular German mystery-author (and sociologist) Horst Bosetzky, who published much of his work under the pseudonym "-ky", has passed away; see, for example, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungreport.
"-ky" was certainly among the more unusual pseudonyms -- French crime writers DOA and San-Antonio are others -- but it couldn't last into the internet age (though he revealed his identity quite a while ago anyway): it is literally impossible to search for on Google (see), for example.
Very popular in Germany, he doesn't seem to have made much of an impression abroad, certainly not in English; Cold Angel appears to be the only work available; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Apparently, eighteen years in, we're deep enough into the twenty-first century that the question of what a twenty-first century canon might look like is in the air: Czech magazine A2 devoted its most recent issue to the Literární kánon 21. století -- complete with a contribution from yours truly, Co přetrvá ? (okay, okay -- there's an English version too) -- and now at New York's Vulture they offer A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon, as: 'A panel of critics tells us what belongs on a list of the 100 most important books of the 2000s ... so far'.
Apparently, 31 critics were asked, and The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt, topped the field, with seven nods; Christian Lorentzen devotes a separate piece to it, explaining that Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai Is the Best Book of the Century (for Now).
(I do note that I wish they'd be clearer on their terms: I would argue that 'the best' is not necessarily 'canonical' (and vice versa); similarly, 'important' is a very different quality than 'best'.
So, for example, I do believe Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle -- the whole damn thing, from volume one to six is -- and likely will remain -- canonical; I think it is very good, but not among the best books of the twenty-first century -- and I'm split over the question of its importance .....)
The twelve 'new classics' -- the top vote-getters -- definitely skews too English-language for my tastes, but certainly a case can be made for some of these; after that the list gets really hit and miss.
'The canon' is a high, high bar, and I think very few books come close to clearing it -- and not nearly most of these.
They've announced the longlist for this year's (Canadian) Scotiabank Giller Prize, twelve titles chosen from 104 submissions.
Two of the titles are translations (from the French) -- and quite a few of these have also (or will soon) appear south of the border (not that I've seen any of them yet ...).
The French Prix Femina has announced its longlists; see, for example the Livres Hebdoreport.
The Femina has two categories -- French novels and translated novels.
Quite a few of the authors on the translated longlist have had titles translated into English -- but not (yet) these, as translation-into-English continues to lag behind the French.
The Femina is yet another of these French prizes that now goes through four rounds -- longlist, shorter list (coming 5 October), shortlist (24 October), and winner (5 November).
(I'm wondering which will be the first prize to go for five rounds .....)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iris Murdoch's 1971 novel, An Accidental Man.
Murdoch is one of those writers -- like Philip Roth -- that I have to carefully dose; there's an insistent intensity to her work that makes it hard for me to digest several in a row -- but what a pleasure to return to her writing after a while away from it.
An Accidental Man is jaw-droppingly good -- near-perfect, really.
I can see readers being put off by some of the unpleasantness -- it is astonishingly grimy, for example (as Murdoch often is) -- but it is so well-done -- layers of story, a variety of forms, all fitting together in a wonderful huge heap.
Absolutely remarkable -- and a great reading pleasure, from the first page to the last.
The one-off Nobel Prize-substitute (because they've postponed the 2018 literature prize for the real thing until (at least) next year) 'New Academy Prize in Literature' announced their four finalists a couple of weeks ago -- but now they're down to three, as Murakami Haruki has begged off; see, for example, the Kyodo report at The Mainichi, Murakami withdraws from alternative literature award for Nobel prize.
Ostensibly, the reason is that: "his preference is to concentrate on his writing, away from media attention".
Given that he's never been shy about picking up prizes before -- most recently, the 2016 H.C.Andersen Literature Award -- this sounds ... suspect.
More likely, surely, is that he recognized that this is kind of an iffy award -- and that the Nobel deciding Swedish Academy, in whatever form it eventually reconstitutes, can not look kindly on this upstart elbowing in on its space.
I.e. he's trying to keep himself in the picture for the only literary author-prize that really matters.
Aside from that, I really see no reason why this 'New Academy' pays any attention to his wishes: he doesn't have to accept the prize, after all -- or he could accept it à la Dylan, making complete fools of the prize-givers -- but surely it shouldn't be a consideration in giving out any literary prize whether or not the honoree actually wants it.
(Not to mention that he probably gets more of that media attention he claims to want to avoid by withdrawing from the prize than he would if he actually won this silly thing.)
Look forward also to a flood of Murakami-coverage -- including interviews with the supposedly so interview-averse author -- with the forthcoming US/UK release of his Killing Commendatore.
The French prix Sade has announced its second round, a longlist of ten titles -- see, for example, the Livres Hebdoreport.
As always an interesting range of titles, including the latest DOA novel and Apollonia Saintclair's Ink is my blood.
Also: some great publisher names: Mania Press, Le Murmure, Humus, Puf, and Encre sympathique (which is the nice French term for 'invisible ink').
At Год Литературы they asked 24 experts for their top five Russian works of fiction of the past thirty years (so a few Soviet titles slip in); see the complete (Russian) list here (and scroll down for each of the experts' individual choices).
Two of the top three titles are by Victor Pelevin -- 1990s works by him, the top title being his Generation П, published in English as both Babylon and Homo Zapiens (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Only a few of the titles on this list are under review at the complete review, though quite a few more are available in translation (of which I have several, some of which I should be getting to, eventually):
They've now announced all the longlists for this year's (American) National Book Awards, with yesterday's announcement (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of the fiction longlist.
Ten titles, selected from 368 submissions, and dear lord I haven't seen any of these.
(I really maybe should start paying more attention to contemporary American fiction .....)
The finalists, in all the categories, will be announced 10 October.
What I do feel isolated in -- if not entirely alone in -- is my determination, as a novelist, essayist, and journalist, not to rage against the dying of literature's light, although it's surprising how little of this there is, but merely to examine the great technological discontinuity of our era, as we pivot from the wave to the particle, the fractal to the fungible, and the mechanical to the computable.
He's also really trying to make this term, 'bidirectional digital media' -- now with a handy acronym, BDDM ! -- catch on.
No one else seems to have embraced it yet, but he's been pushing it for years -- and really heaps the BDDM on here.
The American National Book Awards -- the longlists are being announced this week -- specifically exclude: "Books published through self-publishing services, including CreateSpace"; the French prix Renaudot -- the second most prestigious (after the Goncourt) -- apparently doesn't, and its recently-announced longlist includes a title -- Bande de Français, by Marco Koskas -- published on ... Amazon-owned CreateSpace.
French booksellers and authors are not pleased.
As France 24 reports, French book prize kicks up storm with Amazon selection.
Koskas is no out-of-nowhere author: he's published quite few works, with some of France's best-known publishers (including Fayard, Grasset, and JC Lattès) -- and even been profiled in Forward.
But when he couldn't find a publisher for this work he decided to do it himself -- on Amazon's platform; get your copy at Amazon.fr.
An interesting debate -- with the fact that Amazon is involved of course a nice added twist.
Another day, another French literary prize longlist -- this time it's the Médicis; see, for example, the Livres Hebdoreport.
The Médicis is of interest because, aside from honoring a work of French fiction (12 titles longlisted), they also have a foreign-literature category (10 titles longlisted).
Quite a few titles from the English in the running -- by Zadie Smith, Rachel Kushner, and Yiyun Li, among others -- but also a few other languages represented.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Tragicomedy in Five Acts by Venedikt Erofeev, his late Soviet-era play, Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander, out a couple of years ago in Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters.
I do have to admit my patience with (psychiatric) asylum-dramas is wearing ever-thinner.
(I've never liked fool-characters, either, from King Lear on .....)
Throw in alcohol and ... enough already.
The (American) National Book Awards are announcing their longlists this week, and yesterday they announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the longlist for the Translated Literature-award -- a category added this year, honoring translation for the first time since the 1967 to 1982 run of their previous translation award.
Unlike the old incarnation, which considered translation in all genres (including drama and poetry), the new version is limited to works of fiction and non -- and the authors must be alive.
(The old award was dominated by the dead: 17 of the 23 winning works were by authors deceased at the time they were nominated.)
The ten-title strong longlist, selected from 142 submissions, is:
Aetherial Worlds, by Tatyana Tolstaya, tr. by Anya Migdal
The Beekeeper, by Dunya Mikhail, tr. by Max Weiss and Dunya Mikhail
Comemadre, by Roque Larraquy, tr. by Heather Cleary
It would be interesting to know how many works of non-fiction were submitted; surprisingly (?) only one made the final ten.
Having already won the Man Booker International Prize, Flights is presumably the early favorite.
Lots of notable big -- especially big ... -- translations didn't make the cut, most notably Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle: Book Six and Killing Commendatore by Murakami Haruki.
Two Norwegian titles made the cut -- the only language represented by more than one title -- but neither Knausgaard nor either of the eligible Dag Solstad works (T Singer and Armand V.) were among them .....
Among big-name authors, works by Ismail Kadare, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Patrick Modiano also didn't make the cut.
The Best Translated Book Award, which covers books from almost the exact same span (BTBA: published any time in 2018; NBAs: published between 1 December 2017 and 30 November 2018), only announces its longlists (25 titles in the fiction category) 10 April 2019; it'll be interesting to see how much overlap there is.
The finalists for the National Book Awards will be announced 10 October, the winners on 14 November.
The (American) National Endowment for the Arts offers 'A First Look at Results from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts', in U.S. Trends in Arts Attendance and Literary Reading: 2002-2017 (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
Among the good news: the percent of adults reading poetry has increased from 6.7% in 2012 to 11.7% in 2017 (though that's still less than the 12.1% in 2002 ...).
The percent of adults reading plays has also increased dramatically, from 2.9% in 2012 to 3.7% in 2017 (though that's just a shade more than 2002's 3.6%).
Among the more disappointing findings; "the share of those reading novels or short stories is now lower than in any prior survey period" -- a shocking mere 41.8%.
They've announced the six-title shortlist for the German Book Prize.
The only one of these titles I have is Der Vogelgott by Susanne Röckel; maybe I'll get to it before the winner is announced (8 October).
They've announced the six-title shortlist for the British Academy's Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, a £25,000 prize for a work of non-fiction that: 'contributes to global cultural understanding and illuminates the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide'.
The winner will be announced 30 October.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Theodor Kallifatides On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of Time, Another Life.
Greek-born Kallifatides emigrated to Sweden when he was in his twenties, and this is an interesting work from someone between two cultures, and the choice of what language to write in -- a good complement to Jhumpa Lahiri's In Other Words.
The (American) National Book Foundation will be announcing the longlists for this year's National Book Awards in the coming days, beginning with those for 'Young People's Literature' and 'Translated Literature' tomorrow, but if you don't trust the Americans to judge their own books you can always defer to the French, who have a Grand Prix de littérature américaine whose nine-title longlist has just been announced.
Sure, it's limited to American fiction that has been translated into French -- but that's still a lot of books to choose from.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Virginie Despentes' Pretty Things, just out in English from Feminist Press.
In the UK they already have the first two volumes of her Vernon Subutex-trilogy out (and in German and Spanish they're all caught up with all three already ...); in the US we get a translation of her 1998 novel .....
Which is, of course, also nice to see -- but that twenty-years-behind-the-times-lag seems all too symptomatic of translation into English in the US .....
Stanisław Lem's Solaris has been filmed twice -- by Andrei Tarkovsky (1972) and Steven Soderbergh (2002) -- and now as, for example Thom Dibdin report in The Stage, David Greig to adapt Solaris for the stage.
The English version of Lem's novel is, infamously, only available (in print) in the Kilmartin-Cox translation that is from the French translation of the original (get your copy, if you really have to, at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Bill Johnston has translated it directly from the Polish -- but that edition is only available as an audio book, or an e-book (get your Kindle-copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) .....
I recently reviewed Wang Meng's Bolshevik Salute, and in China Daily Yang Yang reports on a four-pack of books on ancient Chinese philosophers by the author that are being published next month, in Decoding the classics.
It's apparently an ambitious project:
the plan is to hire 15 Sinologists to work on translating them, and publish the series in 33 countries around the world
Presumably they'll eventually appear in English too -- it'll be interesting to see whether there's any interest in this sort of thing.
(Personally, I'd rather see more of his fiction in translation .....)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Benjamin Balint's Kafka's Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy.
This case -- of Max Brod's papers, including lots of Kafka originals, that had been in the estate of Esther Hoffe -- made its way through the Israeli courts over years, and I mentioned it at various stages; great to see a book covering the whole mess (even if it, too, is a bit messy -- but pretty thorough and far-ranging).
They announced the longlists for the prix Renaudot earlier this week, and yesterday they announced the (first) longlist for the prix Goncourt (which goes through four rounds -- there will be a shorter longlist, announced 2 October, then a four-title shortlist, announced 30 October, and then the announcement of the winner, on 7 November).
These are the two leading French book-prizes, and with seventeen novels in the Renaudot-running, and fifteen up for the Goncourt, give a decent overview of what are considered the leading titles this fall season.
(Note that the Goncourt is a one-time prize, i.e. no authors who have previously won are eligible, so one can always expect to see a lot of new names there -- and five of the titles are actually first novels.)
There's fairly little overlap between the Goncourt and Renaudot lists -- just three titles: Adeline Dieudonné's La vraie vie, David Diop's Frère d'âme, and Gilles Martin-Chauffier's L'ère des suspects.
As best I can tell, none of the prix Goncourt-longlisted authors have had any of their work published in English.
The book I think is most underrated
All literatures outside western ones are wilfully underrated, even if they are among the most creative literary traditions in the world.
Even when we're aware of them, we see them as part of a history of ethnicity rather than of literature.
I hope that's a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly there is a lot of literature outside western ones that deserves a lot more attention.
(But if you're seeing that solely as 'part of a history of ethnicity' you're doing it wrong.)
The overall problem, according to Kim, is the lack of translators.
Kim explained that there are not many literary translators who could be given a project with full trust.
The situation with English might be better, but for other languages, there are not many choices, he said.
Interestingly, he is a poet -- "the first person with a background in writing literature to take up the post" -- but:
Having studied Korean literature, he is not proficient in English, today's lingua franca.
But he does not think that his lack of English will pose a hurdle in his duties.
The JCB Prize for Literature, a new Indian prize for: "a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian author", written in or translated into English, has announced its inaugural longlist of ten titles.
A few of the books have been available -- and attracted attention -- in the US/UK, such as The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil and All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy, and several of the authors are familiar from earlier work, notably Kiran Nagarkar and (ninety-one-year-old !) Nayantara Sahgal; I haven't seen any of these (though, of course, I'd like to ...).
Two of the longlisted works are translations: Jasmine Days by Goat Days-author Benyamin, and Poonachi by Perumal Murugan.
The shortlist will be announced 3 October, and the winner on the 27th.
Twenty titles made the longlist for the German Book Prize, but only one of them was by an Austrian author -- Unter der Drachenwand, by Arno Geiger (see the Hanser foreign rights page) -- but since 2016 the Austrians have their own book prize, and they've now announced the ten-title-strong longlist for that, selected from 150 entries.
The Geiger also makes this cut, as does the latest by Robert Seethaler; among authors who have books translated into English who also made the longlist are Josef Winkler and Milena Michiko Flašar.
The shortlist will be announce 9 October.
Words without Borders has announced that: "Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books and managing editor of Three Percent, will receive the 2018 Words Without Borders Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature"; he gets to pick up the prize on 30 October, at the Words without Borders 15th anniversary gala.
Certainly deserved -- Chad is incredibly (pro)active in his support for and promotion of literature in translation, and has been for many years now.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Faroese writer William Heinesen's 1949 novel, The Black Cauldron.
Dedalus first brought this out in 1992, but have just re-issued it -- and are committed to publishing all seven of Heinesen's novels in W.Glyn Jones' translations, with the final one, Noatun, expected next year.
The Impossible Fairy Tale, by Han Yujoo, tr. Janet Hong
Old Rendering Plant, by Wolfgang Hilbig, tr. Isabel Fargo Cole
Swallowing Mercury, by Wioletta Greg, tr. Eliza Marciniak
Meanwhile, The Odyssey (in Emily Wilson's translation) made the poetry-shortlist !
(Remember: the NTA is the prize that prides itself on its: "rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work".)
The winners will be announced at ALTA's annual conference this fall.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bragi Ólafsson's Narrator, just out from Open Letter.
This is the third Bragi title they've published; always good to see publishers sticking to and building up an author like this over the years.