The Millions has their Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2019 Book Preview, with more than a hundred (mainly pretty mainstream) US titles.
Only two of these are already under review at the complete review -- The Memory Police by Ogawa Yoko and Doppelgänger by Daša Drndić --, and I only have one more of them (Empty Hearts by Juli Zeh, which I should be getting to soon); I do suspect/hope there are a lot more other interesting titles out there beyond these.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Karolina Pavlova's A Double Life, out in a new edition in Columbia University Press' Russian Library.
This is Pavlova's only novel, but she has an interesting biography, from being tutored in Polish by Adam Mickiewicz ("she already knew Russian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch, as well as Russian" translator Barbara Heldt notes (slightly overenthusiastically ...) in her Introduction) to the literary circles she moved in -- though she had a hard time in the very male and sexist Russian literary world of the time.
He said novels were "currently losing a bit of their lustre" because of declining quality.
"Some books just carry the phrase 'A Novel' on the cover.
The best proof of the loss of popularity of the novel is its dwindling sales at book fairs in the Arab world during the past two years," he said.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lawrence Lessig on How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution, in Fidelity & Constraint, recently out from Oxford University Press.
The German 'Hotlist' invites all German-language independent publishing houses to submit one book to compete in a three-phase competition that begins with the Hotlist board of trustees selecting a longlist of thirty titles, which the public can then vote on (though only the top three vote-getters make the final ten; the remaining seven titles are chosen by the Hotlist jury); the jury then picks the winning publisher (it is the publisher, rather than the book/author that gets the cash).
They've now announced the thirty-title longlist -- and opened the voting.
(Admirably, they also reveal all 160 submitted titles, as every literary prize should .....)
This gives a good overview of what independent German publishers are publishing -- even if the one-book-per-publisher limit is rather ... limiting.
They do include some big names: among authors in translation with books in the final thirty are Anthony Burgess, Patrick Deville, Helen Oyeyemi, and Boualem Sansal.
They've announced the judges for the 2020 [no-longer-'Man'] International Booker Prize, and they are: Ted Hodgkinson (chair), Lucie Campos, Jennifer Croft, Valeria Luiselli, and Jeet Thayil.
The longlist will be announced in March 2020.
With the start of the French 'rentrée littéraire' -- the fall book-flood, this year with 524 titles (down from 567 last year (and 727 in 2007 ...)) -- the longlists for the fall book prizes start appearing -- a good overview of some of the interesting new titles coming up.
The Prix du Roman Fnac -- which considers both French fiction (there are 366 in this year's rentrée) and translated fiction (188) -- has announced its huge, thirty-title selection, which includes titles by Nathacha Appanah, Laurent Binet, Marie Darrieussecq, Edna O'Brien, and Juli Zeh.
The prix littéraire « Le Monde » has also announced its (considerably shorter) longlist; it also includes new books by Leonora Miano and Jean-Philippe Toussaint (La Clé USB; see the Les Éditions de Minuit publicity page).
Among the events at this year's Manchester International Festival is Studio Créole: "an intimate laboratory for stories where we can hear writers read in their original language and simultaneously listen to a live translation, channeled through a lone performer", which runs from 12 to 14 July.
The seven writers involved are: Patrick Chamoiseau, Sayaka Murata, Adania Shibli, Sjón, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Dubravka Ugrešić, and Alejandro Zambra -- quite the line-up ! -- while the project was conceived and is curated by Adam Thirlwell, is co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and was designed by Rem Koolhaas and Cookies.
At the Times Literary Supplement Thirlwell has an introductory overview as he "considers the history of créolité and literature transcending a single language" in World literature: lightness, multiplicity, transformation.
Lots of Iris Murdoch material in this week's Times Literary Supplement -- it's her centenary; she would have turned 100 on the fifteenth -- including them having their "contributors reflect on the novelist's impact" in What does Iris Murdoch mean to you now ?
I'm a huge fan -- and pleased that there are still a few of her works I haven't gotten to; I only got around to An Accidental Man last year, and it was the best book I read all year.
(Updated): Iris Murdoch coverage abounds -- see now also Leo Robson on Iris the insoluble in the New Statesman -- though obviously I move in the wrong circles (at least on the internet) and can find no evidence that: "Iris Murdoch's work has fallen out of fashion", as everyone (properly) gushes about her work.
Even before the current centenary-interest, I don't think any title has popped up on the weblogs and Twitter-feeds I read, going back many, many years as often as a favorite read as The Sea, the Sea (though obviously that's influenced by what weblogs/Twitter-feeds I follow -- my kind of readers ...).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanaka Yasuo's 1981 novel, Somehow, Crystal, just out from Kurodahan Press.
I review far too few books that I read before I started the site but I actually have read this one before -- the German translation, some twenty-five years ago.
It's not a great book, but of enough interest that it was certainly worth covering (if not necessarily revisiting ...) -- and I fear it won't get all that much coverage otherwise (though surely The Japan Times will at least get to it).
Indeed, it's notable enough -- for several reasons -- that if the English translation had been available I would have mentioned it in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
If you need further convincing/tempting: Sayonara, Gangsters-author Takahashi Gen'ichirō wrote the Introduction to this -- and he concludes it by suggesting:
There has never been anther novel like this, nor is there likely to be on in the future.
I can think of no other novel that so deeply and thoroughly confronts capitalist society.
If Marx were still alive, his follow-up to Das Kapital would surely have been a novel like Somehow, Crystal.
That last sentence is some tag-line; I hope some booksellers use it .....
In the Tehran Times they report on Mahmud Barabadi's comments that Translated books easier to publish in Iran (than domestically-written books).
Among the reasons he gives: "due to the lack of copyright legalities in Iran, the publication of translated books are easier for the publishers in Iran", while also noting that:
Iranian writers write books inspired by the local and cultural atmosphere and need to attract Iranian readers.
Unfortunately, the great number of restrictions on Iranian writers in choosing topics, characters, and even the descriptions of events lead to failure in this field
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Margarita Liberaki's Three Summers, just out from New York Review Books.
This translation actually came out almost a quarter of a century ago -- but locally, in Greece, and until now it hasn't been readily available in the US/UK, so it's good to see this edition.
Liberaki is the mother of well-known (and more translated) author Margarita Karapanou (Kassandra and the Wolf, etc.) -- but they are not the first parent-child duo with books under review at the complete review.
They've announced the winner of this year's Caine Prize for African Writing -- the leading African short story prize -- and it is Skinned (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Lesley Nneka Arimah, originally published in McSweeney's.
I recently reached 4400 books under review at the complete review, so it's time for another overview of the past 100 reviewed titles (4301 through 4400).
- The last 100 reviews were posted over 162 days -- slightly longer than the previous 100 (145 days), but totaling considerably more words: 138,605 (last 100: 127,620 words), by far the highest average review length for any 100-review period to date.
The longest review was 6501 words, and eleven reviews were over 2000 words long.
Reviewed books had a total of 25,858 pages, slightly above the previous 25,405 but with a considerably lower pages-per-day rate (156.8, down from 175.2).
- Reviewed books were originally written in 27 different languages (including English), one down from the previous hundred; English led the way, with 23 titles, followed by French (16), German (12.5), and Japanese (7).
One new language was added -- Tibetan -- bringing the total number of languages covered to 78.
(See also the updated full breakdown of all the languages books under review were originally written in.)
- Reviewed books were by authors from 36 countries (previous 100: 36), France and the UK tied for the most (12), followed by Germany and Japan (7).
- Male-written books were overwhelmingly dominant -- but slightly less so than usual, with 73 of the reviewed books written by men (improving the horribly sexist average of written-by-women titles under review to ... 16.81 per cent).
- No books were rated A+ or A, but 10 were rated A-; B was the most common grade (56), while one title each got a B- and a C.
- Fiction dominated, as it always does, with 83 titles that were novels/novellas/stories.
In the Taipei Times Han Cheung reports on how 'The US Information Services supported and translated works by young Taiwanese modernist writers during the 1960s, as part of efforts in a 'Cultural Cold War' against communism', in Taiwan in Time: Waging war with pen and paper, as:
Under [Richard] McCarthy, the USIS sponsored and translated a significant number of works by young Taiwanese writers, and also published books featuring local avant-garde artists
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Timothy Allen's new translation of Nguyễn Du's Vietnamese classic, The Song of Kiều: A New Lament, just out in the Penguin Classics series.
This is apparently the first Vietnamese title in the Penguin Classics series -- long overdue, one would think.
But this is certainly the obvious choice for the series, and while there have been several previous translations this one certainly has the potential of reaching a broader audience.
They've announced the winner of this year's Premio Strega, the leading Italian literary prize, and it is M. Il figlio del secolo, getting 228 votes, more than a hundred more than the runner-up among the five finalists.
The massive, largely documentary novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins in the US and Fourth Estate in the UK -- and already got some US coverage in The New York Times, where Emma Johanningsmeier wrote about how A New Book About Mussolini Is Provoking a Debate Over His Legacy.
See also the Bompiani publicity page.
As a child, I was an inveterate liar, always living in a fantasy world.
I dreamt about having an extraordinary life, a passionate life, the life of a great author.
I wrote poems and wanted to kill myself.
They've announced the winner of this year's prix Émile-Guimet de Littérature asiatique, a leading French prize for an Asian work of fiction -- and it is The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Miyashita Natsu -- selected from a rather disappointing mere seventeen submissions.
See also the Doubleday publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arnon Grunberg's 2012 novel, De man zonder ziekte.
As you may recall, Open Letter was interested in publishing this, but .....
It's not the best not-yet-translated Grunberg work, but it definitely is among those that should be available in English.
Dallas-based translation publisher Deep Vellum acquired the backlist of two separate independent publishing house -- Phoneme Media of Los Angeles and A Strange Object of Austin, Tex. -- and is expanding into publishing works originally written in English.
Also good to hear:
Recent translation acquisitions include internationally-renowned Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu's most recent novel, Solenoid
Austrian crime fiction hasn't exactly broken through internationally but has certainly blossomed domestically over the past decade -- and for the past decade they've been awarding the Leo-Perutz-Preis für Wiener Kriminalliteratur -- the Leo Perutz Prize for Viennese Crime Fiction, paying out a decent €5,000.
Yes, more books by Leo Perutz have been translated into English -- several now available from Pushkin Press -- than winners of this prize have, but still .....
They've now announced the five finalists for this year's prize -- which include an Alex Beer title (Beer has actually been translated into English ...); the winner will be announced 5 November.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, one of the leading Australian novel prizes
The finalists include two-time winner (in 1982 (!) and 1994) Rodney Hall (for A Stolen Season) and Gail Jones, who previously had shortlisted titles for a three-year run 2006 through 2008.
The winner will be announced on 30 July.
I mentioned the rumblings of discontent about this recently: the Georgian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport -- itself newly consolidated -- decreed a few weeks ago that the (existing and apparently quite successful) LEPLs ('Legal Entities under Public Law'; read the official explanation here, if you're really interested ...), the Georgian National Book Center and the Writer's House have been "abolished" --
and replaced by a new LEPL that is presumably meant to assume their functions, the "National Foundation of Georgian Literature" (ლიტერატურის ეროვნული ფონდი; I have not yet been able to find a website for it yet -- or even an official announcement of its creation, beyond that reporting the appointment of its first director, Irma Ratiani).
The Georgian (and, admirably, the German) press are full of coverage about this -- and see now also English-language reports such as Ana Dumbadze's report in Georgia Today, Writers Boycott National Foundation of Georgian Literature, noting that:
Writers, translators, publishers and former employees of the abolished organizations are demanding the restoration of the abolished organizations and the abolishment of a newly established entity instead.
The protestors promise: "Our boycott will be comprehensive and noisy".
It's a shame: there's no question that the Georgian National Book Center did great work in support of Georgia's recent turn as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair (which is why the German publishing professionals, impressed by the Georgians' work, are so active in their support of their Georgian colleagues) -- though admittedly that hasn't (yet) extended to convincing US and UK publishers to take on many works .....
And it's certainly not good to hear that, for example: "the need for preparation for the Paris 2021 Book Fair are being completely ignored".
Continued support for Georgian literature, domestically and abroad, would certainly be helpful (like in so many other places -- but the Georgians really seemed to be on the right track, until this recent going-off-the-rails ...).
See also the Georgian literature under review at the complete review.
The Summer issue of World Literature Today is now out, with a focus on climate change -- and, as always, a nice big selection of book reviews.
It is the 'Summer issue' which, yes, confirms that World Literature Today has gone seasonal -- and now only comes out four times a year.
In 2018 it was a bi-monthly, so that's quite a fall back (though of course there may well be as much overall material, just spread out over fewer issues) -- though 2014 through 2017 they split the difference, with only five issues a year (bi-monthly, with a double issue covering the summer); the entire preceding decade they put out six issues annually.
I mention this because -- coïncidentally or part of a larger trend ? -- for the first time since 2004, the current issue of the otherwise always monthly Words without Borders covers two months, June-July (i.e. they aren't putting out as much either).
For all the apparent interest in literature in translation and international literature, even these leading publications are pulling (if ever so slightly) back ?
It makes me worry/wonder .....
(Somewhat similarly: traffic from the US was actually slightly up at the complete review in June, over May -- but the percentage of all traffic that is from the US was down to a low of just over 28 per cent -- far off the 40 per cent that was the norm just a few years ago: the site audience is increasingly international.)
They held the 'Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur' -- 'days of German literature' -- over the weekend; the centerpiece is the Bachmann Prize, the read- and judge-aloud prize whose previous winners include Gert Jonke (the first winner, back in 1977), Ulrich Plenzdorf, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, Terézia Mora, Lutz Seiler, and Maja Haderlap.
The official site has all the information -- and all the texts, as well as Clemens Setz's opening speech (yes, all in German ...), while shigekuni has you covered in English, beginning with his post on #tddl: Germany's Next Literary Idol, 2019 edition. Der Schrank (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Birgit Birnbacher, was awarded the Bachmannpreis, while the prize that the public voted on (online), the BKS-Bank-Publikumspreis, went to Vierundsiebzig (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Ronya Rothmann.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Adam L. Kern's Manga from the Floating World: Comicbook Culture and the Kibyōshi of Edo Japan, a second edition of the 2006 work, just out -- now also in a paperback edition -- from Harvard University Press.
They've announced the winner of this year's Phantastikpreis der Stadt Wetzlar, the German fantasy (including science fiction, horror, and more) prize, and it goes to Hyde, by Antje Wagner; see also the Beltz foreign rights page.
Lots of familiar authors have won this prize -- notably Cornelia Funke (for Inkheart) and Thomas Glavinic (for Night Work), as well as Johanna and Günter Braun, Herbert W. Franke, and Christian Kracht.
The Phantastische Bibliothek also looks like a pretty ... fantastic institution -- the world's largest publicly accessible collection of fantastical literature, with over 291,000 titles, in a five-story library.
The sometime-Nobel-predicting (Jelinek in 2004 and Pinter in 2005) Franz Kafka Prize has announced its 2019 winner and it is ... Pierre Michon.
Quite a few of his works have been translated into English -- recently from Yale University Press and Archipelago.
Michon also has the distinction of being the only author with a book rated "F" at the complete review: Rimbaud the Son ....
They've announced the fourteen-title longlist for this year's Cundill History Prize, a US$75,000 prize for a book: "that embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal".
The shortlist will be announced 19 September, the three finalists on 16 October, and the winner on 14 November.
They've announced the twelve-title longlist for the prix Sade; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
You have to figure Philosophie des pornographes by Colas Duflo and Sade Romancier by Dominique Dussidour have the inside track for this one -- but good to see a Pierre Louÿs work in the running too, his never before published 'album érotique' Le cul de la femme; see also the la manufacture de livres publicity page.
They've made a list of Les 100 romans qui ont le plus enthousiasmé « Le Monde » depuis 1944 -- Le Monde's top 100 novels since liberation.
Unfortunately, the list is for subscribers-only; you can, however, make out some of the titles from the accompanying illustration -- unsurprising choices such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, 2666, The Gulag Archipelago, and Albert Cohen's Belle du Seigneur; some other strong and well-known works, such as Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse, Marguerite Duras' The Lover, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, and Ahmadou Kourouma's Allah is Not Obliged; Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita also squeezed in, as a posthumous publication (the author himself having died before the cut-off date).
Among the surprises: Pai Hsien-Yung's Crystal Boys -- especially since there doesn't seem to much else from the Chinese.
And at least one title hasn't even been translated into English yet: Kateb Yacine's Le polygone étoilé.
The Livres Hebdo report about the list doesn't reveal titles, but does mention names -- and some who didn't make the cut, including Mo Yan, Murakami, and Camus.
They also have a helpful if annoying four-chart gallery you can click through, breaking down the list by some of the numbers:
only seven titles from the 1970s made the cut, compared to 16 each from the 80s, 90s, and 00s
the male-female author divide is a truly shocking 78:22
44 of the titles were by authors from France, followed by 12 from the US and 9 from the UK; only two each were from Germany and Japan ...
-'autobiographical/auto-fiction' was the most popular type of novel (20), closely followed by historical fiction (19); eight were mysteries/thrillers, seven fantastical fiction
I hope the full list is eventually made freely accessible.