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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

11 May 2021 - Tuesday

Solzhenitsyn's Nobel | Libris Literatuur Prijs | King Kong Theory review

       Solzhenitsyn's Nobel

       The Swedish Academy has now, belatedly, opened the archives of the Nobel Prize deliberations from 50 years ago, regarding the 1970 prize awarded to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; regrettably, they haven't posted information -- such as the list of nominated authors -- at the archive-site yet.
       Kaj Schueler, of Svenska Dagbladet, appears to have been first on the scene to inspect the papers; his report, Hemliga dokument: Därför fick Aleksandr Solzjenitsyn is unfortunately paywalled, but at least from the first section we can glean the most important news: that Solzhenitsyn was a near-unanimous choice, with only Artur Lundkvist strongly opposed, and that the two authors he beat out were Pablo Neruda (who was awarded the prize the next year) and Patrick White, who would get the prize in 1973.

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

       Libris Literatuur Prijs

       They've announced the winner of this year's Libris Literatuur Prijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes, and it is Cliënt E. Busken, by (eighty-one-year-old) Jeroen Brouwers.
       See also the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page for this book "about the decline of a man with dementia".

       Brouwers' Sunken Red was translated into English over thirty years ago -- and reviewed in The New York Times Book Review back in the day, 'In Short': "Told with an aching beauty in a spiraling form that gradually reveals more and more, Sunken Red is a cathartic achievement" -- but that seems to have been the extent of it; it'll be interesting to see if his work will now get another look from US/UK publishers.

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

       King Kong Theory review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the new translation, by Frank Wynne, of Virginie Despentes' King Kong Theory, out last year in the UK from Fitzcarraldo Editions and now out -- today, in fact -- in the US from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

       This 2006 work is the rare example of a work of contemporary non-fiction that has been re-issued in a new translation (Stéphanie Benson's translation appeared in 2009). (Re-translations of recent works of fiction are also relatively rare, but you do see more of them.) It must be something about the work: the Germans gave it a second try recently as well (Kiepenheuer & Witsch) -- and there are also two translations into Spanish.
       (Given the importance of the tone and voice to the work, there may have been good reason to have another go at it.)

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10 May 2021 - Monday

Author biographies | The Critical Case of a Man Called K review

       Author biographies

       While I cover a fair number of biographies at the complete review, I'm not a big fan of the form: I am, however, quite fascinated by the general fascination with biographies, especially writers' lives. (While I haven't written about it, because ... well, everyone else seems to have, the recent Blake Bailey-Philip Roth biography has turned out to be a particularly interesting example, the issues surrounding the biographer -- a real piece of work -- swamping the actual biography; the book about this whole fiasco will surely certainly be much more interesting than Bailey's own book (which I had, and continue to have, no plans to read; as with so many authors: Roth's work is of interest to me; Roth's life isn't.)
       At Honi Soit Genevieve Couvret now looks at (some) author-biographies, wondering: "Can we ever really know our favourite authors ?" in The Eulogy of The Novelist: What comes after the death of the author, addressing some of the issues surrounding this odd genre.

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       The Critical Case of a Man Called K review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Saudi Arabian author Aziz Mohammed's The Critical Case of a Man Called K, just out in English from Hoopoe.

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

9 May 2021 - Sunday

Manzoor Ahtesham (1948-2021) | Alfred-Döblin-Preis

       Manzoor Ahtesham (1948-2021)

       Hindi-writing author Manzoor Ahtesham has passed away -- and it's nice to see that The New York Times has an obituary (by Katharine Q. Seelye); see also A tribute to Manzoor Ahtesham: A man buried in his books by Askari Zaidi in The Hindu.
       It was good to see his The Tale of the Missing Man appear in English.

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       They've announced the winner of this year's Alfred Döblin Prize, a biennial literary prize for an unpublished work that was established by Günter Grass, and it is Deniz Utlu; see, for example, the Deutschlandfunk report.
       Given the list of previous winners, certainly a prize to pay attention to.

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

8 May 2021 - Saturday

1970 Nobel archive to be opened | Prix Goncourt-winner sales success

       1970 Nobel archive to be opened

       All Nobel Prize in Literature nominees and deliberations are kept sealed for fifty years, and only then do they open the archives and publicly reveal what went down. Usually they open the archive right at the start of the year -- 1 January, basically -- but due to Covid-concerns they delayed that this year -- until now: the Swedish Academy has announced that access to the 1970 archive will be possible starting Monday, 10 May. (Make an appointment if you want to be among the first to get a peek !)
       In 1970 the prize went to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; it'll be interesting to see who he beat out.
       Reports should start appearing Tuesday or Wednesday.

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       Prix Goncourt-winner sales success

       Hervé Le Tellier's L'anomalie, last year's winner of the biggest French literary prize, the prix Goncourt keeps selling: Gallimard have announced they've now printed a million copies of the book -- an almost unheard of amount for a title in France: as the Livres Hebdo report notes, that's a: "barre symbolique (et rare)".
       A tirage of a million copies doesn't mean a million copies sold -- yet -- but it looks to be well on its way. It probably won't become the bestselling Goncourt-winner of all times -- with 1,600,000 copies sold Marguerite Duras' The Lover still has that locked up -- but it's easily the number two

       English-language editions are due soon -- from Other Press in the US in November and from Michael Joseph in the UK in January, 2022 -- and I'm curious what their expectations for this now are. Quite a few Le Tellier titles have been translated -- they're all under review at the complete review; see, for example, A Thousand Pearls (for a Thousand Pennies) -- and I'd be surprised if any came anywhere near 10,000 copies sold; surely expectations for this one must now be considerably higher (though not all Goncourt winners have fared well in the US/UK).

       Le Tellier is also a member of the Oulipo, and I wonder how this compares on the all-time Oulipo list. Presumably Raymond Queneau's Zazie in the Metro has been the single most successful title over the years. Some titles by Italo Calvino and Georges Perec probably have also sold well -- but it's hard to imagine any selling near a million copies; Zazie is the only one I can see having gotten anywhere close, after so many years.
       I also suspect L'anomalie's one-million-copy print run is more than that of all titles by Oulipo authors, alive and dead, in France over the same period.

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

7 May 2021 - Friday

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel longlist
Dutch translation grants | Nives review

       Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel longlist

       They've announced the eighteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
       Readers are invited to vote for the shortlist; the winner will be announced 22 July.

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

       Dutch translation grants

       The Dutch Foundation for Literature has announced its latest batch of translation grants for foreign publishers, subsidizing the translation of Dutch works into foreign languages.
       Always interesting to see what is being translated, and where it is being published; always disappointing to see how little is making it to the US/UK markets. True, some Dutch literature gets published without the benefit of translation grants, and several of these works have already been translated into English, but still ... of all these titles there is one translation set to be published in the UK (Auke Kok's Johan Cruijff-biography; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page) and one in the US (a Radna Fabias poetry collection).

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       Nives review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sacha Naspini's Nives, just out in English from Europa Editions.

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

6 May 2021 - Thursday

Neustadt International Prize for Literature jurors announced
James Tait Black Prizes shortlists | Encore Award shortlist

       Neustadt International Prize for Literature jurors announced

       They've announced the ten jurors for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature: Jennifer Croft, Tarfia Faizullah, Hamid Ismailov, Fowzia Karimi, Eleni Kefala, R.O.Kwon, Carlos Labbé, Carlos Pintado, Matthew Shenoda, and Olga Zilberbourg.
       Who the judges for a literary prize are obviously matters a great deal, but certainly more so here than with most other prizes. Usually prize-judges are presented with a slate of books or authors from which they then select the *best* -- but here it is the ten jurors who decide who is even in the running, as each juror gets to name one finalist, which is then the pool of authors from whom the winner is selected.
       The finalists -- the authors then in the running for the prize -- will be announced 15 June.
       This biennial prize for: "a living writer anywhere in any genre" has a very good list of winners; I look forward to seeing who this year's jurors think is worthy.

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

       James Tait Black Prizes shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's James Tait Black Prizes -- "Britain's longest-running book awards" --, four each in the fiction and biography categories; I haven't seen any of these.

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

       Encore Award shortlist

       The Royal Society of Literature has announced the shortlist for this year's Encore Award, which celebrates: "the achievement of outstanding second novels".
       The only one of the shortlisted titles under review at the complete review is Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
       The winner will be announced on 20 May.

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

5 May 2021 - Wednesday

Spring Goncourt prizes | GG's finalists | Nocturne of Remembrance review

       Spring Goncourt prizes

       The Académie Goncourt has announced their 'Goncourt du printemps'-prizes -- their spring prizes (as opposed to the big best novel prize, which is awarded in the fall); see the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) or, for example, the report in Le Figaro.
       The first-novel prize went to Que sur toi se lamente le Tigre, by Emilienne Malfatto, while Pauline Dreyfus' Paul Morand-biography won the prix Goncourt de la biographie Edmonde Charles-Roux.
       The Goncourt de la Poésie Robert Sabatier went to Jacques Roubaud for his entire œuvre; several of his poetry collections are under review at the complete review (as are several of his prose works); see, for example, The Form of a City Changes Faster, alas, than the Human Heart.

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

       GG's finalists

       The Canada Council for the Arts has, after some delay, announced the finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Awards -- seventy books in seven categories, five finalists in each in both English and French, including the two translation categories (French to English and English to French); the 2021 finalists (and then winners) will be announced in the fall.
       The only title under review at the complete review is Poetry-finalist Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, by Anne Carson.
       The winners of the 2020 prizes will be announced 1 June.

       Admirably, the Governor General's Literary Awards reveals all the books that are under consideration for the prize; you can search all of the submitted titles, by year and category, here.

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       Nocturne of Remembrance review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nakayama Shichiri's Nocturne of Remembrance, which Vertical brought out in English a couple of years ago.

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

4 May 2021 - Tuesday

EBRD Literature Prize shortlist | Film adaptations from Vietnamese literature
Maltese writing and literary translation

       EBRD Literature Prize shortlist

       They've announced the three-title shortlist for this year's EBRD Literature Prize -- a €20,000 prize divided between the winning author and translator, for the: "best work of literary fiction translated into English, originally written in any language of the EBRD's nearly 40 countries of operations and published by a UK publisher":
  • The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, tr. Sean Gasper Bye
  • Mr K Released by Matéi Visniec, tr. Jozefina Komporaly
  • The Pear Field by Nina Ektimishvili, tr. Elizabeth Heighway
       I haven't seen any of these, but am particularly curious about the Visniec; see also the Seagull Books publicity page.

       (Updated - 5 May): See now also the official press release; the winner will be announced on 1 June.

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

       Film adaptations from Vietnamese literature

       At VN Express Mai Nhat reports that Movies adapted from Vietnamese literature suffer losses.
       The Song of Kiều doesn't seem like the most promising source-material in the first place, but recent film adaptations have apparently fared very poorly: the most recent adaptation, Kieu, lasted eighteen days in cinemas and had a box office take of less than a tenth of the production costs; Kieu @, released in February, "suffered the same fate. It was described by some as 'catastrophic'".

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

       Maltese writing and literary translation

       In the Times of Malta Clare Vassallo gets a variety of people in the field to discuss Making translated books more visible -- Maltese literature, that is.
       Among the (many) issues they have:
Foreign agents and publishers usually fail to understand why a country that insists on exporting its literature lacks such elemental things as journals and reviews. The sad thing about this is that books were reviewed regularly in all local newspapers in the past, so basically, we fell back rather than progressed.
       It would certainly be great to see more translations from the Maltese (as also from so many other 'small(er)' languages).

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

3 May 2021 - Monday

Kate Jennings (1948-2021) | Chasing the Dream review

       Kate Jennings (1948-2021)

       Australian author Kate Jennings has passed away; see, for example, the Sydney Morning Herald report, ‘I miss her’: Poet and writer Kate Jennings dies aged 72.

       The only Jennings title under review at the complete review is Moral Hazard.

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

       Chasing the Dream review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Liane de Pougy's 1898 novel Chasing the Dream, now in English for the first time, from Dedalus.

       This is one of two Pougy titles Dedalus have just brought out. She led a very colorful life, too -- a fascinating figure.

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

2 May 2021 - Sunday

Jhumpa Lahiri profile | Blue Danube imprint | Locus Awards finalists

       Jhumpa Lahiri profile

       Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts -- written in Italian, and translated by the author -- is just out -- see the publicity pages from Alfred A. Knopf and Bloomsbury, or get your copy at or -- and in The Guardian Lisa Allardice profiles her, in Jhumpa Lahiri: 'I've always existed in a kind of linguistic exile'.
       Also of interest: Lahiri explaining Where I Find Myself: On Self-translation, at Words without Borders; well worth a read.

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       Blue Danube imprint

       The Blue Guide travel series has made forays into the literary -- a series of Literary Companions, for example -- but now have launched a more ambitious literary imprint, Blue Danube, which will: "focus on literature, history and travel in Central Europe".
       The first two titles are by Bánffy Miklós, and the mystery The Remarkable Mrs Anderson ertainly sounds like fun.
       See also Mark Chandler reporting at The Bookseller that Blue Guides launches literary imprint, and the hlo report, Blue Guides Release Two Books by Miklós Bánffy.

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       Locus Awards finalists

       The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the finalists of this year's Locus Awards -- ten each in a whole lot of categories.
       The winners will be announced 26 June.

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

1 May 2021 - Saturday

Laligaba | Life After Gravity review


       They've announced the winners of this year's Latvian Literature Awards -- Laligaba --, the leading Latvian literary awards.
       Jānis Joņevs' Tīģeris won the fiction award; see also the Dienas Grāmata publicity page.
       Jānis Elsbergs' translations of poetry by Čārlzs Bukovskis won for best translation. Čārlzs Bukovskis ? Yes, that's Charles Bukowski.

       (Updated - 6 May): See now also the report at Latvian Literature, The Annual Latvian Literature Award 2021 Winners Announced.

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

       Life After Gravity review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Patricia Fara on Isaac Newton's London Career, in Life After Gravity, just out from Oxford University Press.

       That's the second Fara title on Newton under review -- I got to her Newton back in 2002 --; there are also quite a few other Newton-related titles under review.

       See also Tyler Cowen's recent conversation with Patricia Fara on Newton, Scientific Progress, and the Benefits of Unhistoric Acts.

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30 April 2021 - Friday

Chingiz Aitmatov profile | Edgar® Awards | Fred Jordan (1925-2021)

       Chingiz Aitmatov profile

       At Russia Beyond Ajay Kamalakaran profiles Chingiz Aitmatov, in How a Russian-Kyrgyz bilingual writer opened Central Asia to the world -- the author offering: "a rare glimpse into the culture, psyche, traditions and landscapes of the heart of Asia".

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

       Edgar® Awards

       The Mystery Writers of America have announced the winners of this year's Edgar® Awards.
       Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara, won the Best Novel award; see also the publicity pages from Random House and Vintage, or get your copy at or

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

       Fred Jordan (1925-2021)

       Fred Jordan -- born Alfred Rotblatt --, longtime editor at Grove Press and then publisher of Pantheon Book, has passed away; see, for example, the Publishers Weekly report.

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29 April 2021 - Thursday

Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist | PEN World Voices Festival
People of the City review

       Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction.
       The only one of the six shortlisted titles under review at the complete review is Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
       The winner will be announced 7 July.

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

       PEN World Voices Festival

       This year's PEN World Voices Festival, with the theme: 'Power to the People' runs 18 to 22 May and they've now announced the (digital) program.
       Certainly some events of interest here.

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       People of the City review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City, re-issued last year by New York Review Books.

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

28 April 2021 - Wednesday

RSL Ondaatje Prize shortlist | Honkaku mysteries

       RSL Ondaatje Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's RSL Ondaatje Prize -- awarded to: "a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" --; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       The only one of these I have is Adam Mars-Jones' Box Hill, which I am hoping to get to
       The winner will be announced 11 May.

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       Honkaku mysteries

       In The Guardian Caroline Crampton writes about Honkaku: a century of the Japanese whodunnits keeping readers guessing.
       She notes:
Writer Haruta Yoshitame, who is credited with defining honkaku, described it as "a detective story that mainly focuses on the process of a criminal investigation and values the entertainment derived from pure logical reasoning".
       Among the titles discussed are: The Decagon House Murders by Ayatsuji Yukito, and The Honjin Murders and The Inugami Curse by Yokomizo Seishi.

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

27 April 2021 - Tuesday

NSW Premier's Literary Awards | 2020 UK book sales | 星雲賞 finalists

       NSW Premier's Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's NSW Premier's Literary Awards, one of the leading Australian multi-category literary prizes -- not that that press release tells you much; see the media release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) for the full run-down of all the winners
       Ellen van Neerven's poetry-collection Throat was named Book of the Year (and also picked up the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry); see also the University of Queensland Press publicity page.
       The Christina Stead Prize for Fiction went to A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville; see the Text publicity page.
       This was also a year when they awarded the biennial NSW Translation Prize -- but, in what can be taken as an indication that they should make this an annual prize, there were two winners this year: N.N. Trakakis' translation of Autumn Manuscripts by Tasos Leivaditis and Alice Whitmore's translation of Imminence by Mariana Dimópulos.

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

       2020 UK book sales

       In The Guardian Alison Flood reports that UK book sales soared in 2020 despite pandemic.
       Fiction sales for UK publishers were up 16%, non-fiction book sales were up 4%. E-sales almost caught up with print sales -- 47% to 53% -- and audio downloads rose by an impressive 37%.

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

       星雲賞 finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the Japanese science-fiction Seiun Awards -- "the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo Awards", as Locus puts it, as they also conveniently list in English the finalists in the categories of greatest interest; see their post 2021 Seiun Awards Nominees.
       With the exception of Liu Cixin's The Dark Forest all the finalists in the best translated novel category appear to be translations from the English.

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

26 April 2021 - Monday

The Ladies' Paradise review

       The Ladies' Paradise review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Émile Zola's 1883 novel, The Ladies' Paradise.

       This is the eleventh in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series -- and perhaps the most Balzacian of the lot. It is also the novel behind the loose TV mini-series adaptation The Paradise; see also the official pages at BBC One and PBS.

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

25 April 2021 - Sunday

OCM Bocas Prize | Samanta Schweblin Q & A
Klara and the Sun in ... Chinese

       OCM Bocas Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the most intriguing of the three category-winners takes it, poetry category winner The Dyzgraphxst, by Canisia Lubrin; see also the McClelland & Stewart publicity page, or get your copy at or

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       Samanta Schweblin Q & A

       In The Guardian Kathryn Bromwich has a Q & A with Samanta Schweblin: 'In fiction we try not to talk about technology'.

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       Klara and the Sun in ... Chinese

       As Zhang Kun reports in Book publication is story of cooperation at China Daily, Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is: "one of the few books that have been simultaneously published in its original language and Chinese at the same time", as Shanghai Translation Publishing House brought it out -- see their publicity page -- "on March 3 (March 2 in Britain)".
       While simultaneous publication of high-profile English language books in major European languages is not that unusual, apparently it doesn't happen often with Chinese (yet).
       The novel seems to have done well, too:
The first print run of 100,000 copies for the Chinese edition of Klara and the Sun was a success, and another 20,000 copies are in production
       Interesting also to see both author name and title printed larger in English than, respectively, in Chinese characters on the Chinese cover.

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24 April 2021 - Saturday

Litprom Weltempfänger | Philip Gabriel profile

       Litprom Weltempfänger

       Four times a year the German Litprom organization chooses a best-of list of books from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world translated into German -- and they've now reached their 50th list; it's topped by Helon Habila's Travelers and also features two graphic novels.
       At Börsenblatt they take the occasion of the fiftieth list to offer an overview and some of the numbers. So, for example, 350 titles have been featured on the 50 lists over the years -- but, rather disappointingly, only 102 were authored by women -- just over 29 per cent, suggesting translation into German, especially from less-translated languages still is (far) too male-dominated. Also: the three countries from which the most books were featured are: 1) Argentina, 2) South Africa, and 3) India.
       Meanwhile, the Litprom Literature Days 2021 take place this weekend with an interesting-sounding programme -- not least: 'Breaking patriarchal patterns', with Kawakami Mieko, among others.

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       Philip Gabriel profile

       In the Arizona Daily Star Bill Finley profiles Philip Gabriel, in Meet the Tucson literary translator who works with superstar author Murakami.
       Gabriel translated Murakami Haruki's just-out First Person Singular, among other titles by the author.

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

23 April 2021 - Friday

Österreichischer Staatspreis für europäische Literatur
International Booker Prize shortlist | Stella Prize | Antiquities review

       Österreichischer Staatspreis für europäische Literatur

       They've announced the winners of this year's Austrian state literary prizes, including the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, one of the leading international author prizes (though limited to European authors) -- and this year's winner is Krasznahorkai László.
       The Austrian State Prize for European Literature, awarded since 1965 (to Zbigniew Herbert), has a great list of previous winners, and Krasznahorkai is obviously yet another great choice.

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       International Booker Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's International Booker Prize:
  • At Night All Blood is Black, by David Diop, tr. Anna Moschovakis

  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, by Mariana Enríquez, tr. Megan McDowell

  • The Employees, by Olga Ravn, tr. Martin Aitken

  • In Memory of Memory, by Maria Stepanova, tr. Sasha Dugdale

  • The War of the Poor, by Éric Vuillard, tr. Mark Polizzotti

  • When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut, tr. Adrian Nathan West
       The Labatut is only coming to the US this fall; I am very curious about that one. I haven't seen the Enríquez and only have an e-copy of the Stepanova.
       No clear favorite for me here (yet); the winner will be announced 2 June.

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       Stella Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Stella Prize, "celebrating Australian women's writing", and it is The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld.
       See also the publicity pages from Pantheon and Jonathan Cape, or get your copy at or

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

       Antiquities review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Cynthia Ozick's new novel, Antiquities.

       Ozick just turned 93 last week, and it's great to see her still going strong.
       See also now this Q & A at BLARB.

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

22 April 2021 - Thursday

Literary Translation Model Contract | NFTs in publishing ?

       Literary Translation Model Contract

       The Authors Guild recently announced the release of both its Model Trade Book Contract and its Literary Translation Model Contract -- previously only available to members -- to the general public.
       These are very useful reference resources, and it's great to see these made readily accessible for one and all.

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

       NFTs in publishing ?

       NFTs are certainly having an impact in the art market -- see, for example, Marion Menaker in ARTnews, considering Art Lasts, Markets Pass: Can NFTs Finally Make Art an Asset Class ? -- but what about in publishing ?
       At Publishers Weekly Bill Rosenblatt wonders Could NFTs Work in Publishing ? -- but he doesn't really see it:
It's possible that authors and publishers will find viable applications for NFTs, but it's too early to tell, and early experiments are likely to lead to dead ends
       Still, it isn't stopping authors and publishers from trying -- Calvin Reid reports in Publishers Weekly that Wiley Teams with Author to Create NFT Author Trading Card.

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

21 April 2021 - Wednesday

Wolfson History Prize shortlist | Takamura Kaoru profile
Public Reading Followed by Discussion review

       Wolfson History Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Wolfson History Prize, "the UK's most prestigious history writing prize".
       An interesting-sounding selection, though I haven't seen any of these.
       The winner of the £40,000 prize will be announced 9 June.

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

       Takamura Kaoru profile

       Takamura Kaoru's Lady Joker (I) recently came out; it hasn't attracted the attention I thought it would/should yet, but it's good to see Paula L. Woods now profile author and book in The Los Angeles Times, in The star Japanese crime novelist almost too good to translate.
       Among the interesting titbits: Soho Press acquired English-language rights to this all the way back in 2014. And among the challenges they faced:
How to package the book for an American audience. Soho considered one 1,000-plus-page volume but abandoned the idea. “We also thought three books was a lot to ask readers to sign up for, year after year,” Grames explains. “And four is an unlucky number in Japanese culture.” So they settled on two.
       (My ideal would of course have been a single mass-market-paperback volume, but I can see how they wouldn't want to do that.)

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

       Public Reading Followed by Discussion review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Danielle Mémoire's Public Reading Followed by Discussion, just out from Dalkey Archive Press.

       This is one of the first titles Dalkey has brought out since founder John O'Brien's death, but it is certainly in keeping with his literary vision -- indeed, it's about as Dalkey as a title can get.

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

20 April 2021 - Tuesday

More Murakami | Translation from ... Japanese

       More Murakami

       Murakami Haruki's First Person Singular just came out in English, but there's more Murakami coming this fall !
       Murakami recently made some news with his Uniqlo-T-shirt collection, and it turns out he's apparently truly a big Tシャツ fan: a book on the subject, 村上T, is already out in Japan (see the マガジンハウス publicity page), and is coming to the US/UK in Philip Gabriel's translation in November, as Murakami T:

Murakami T

       See also the publicity pages from Alfred A. Knopf and Harvill Secker (nice place-holder cover !), or pre-order your copy at or
       It sounds ... well ...:
Here are photographs of Murakami's extensive and personal T-shirt collection, accompanied by essays that reveal a side of the writer rarely seen by the public.
       While it's great to see more Murakami, there's still quite a bit more that hasn't been translated and that surely would be more interesting -- certainly his conversation with Kawakami Mieko , みみずくは黄昏に飛びたつ (see the Shinchosha publicity page), but also the recent collection of dialogues about translation with Shibata Motoyuki, 本当の翻訳の話をしよう; see the Switch publicity page.
       Honestly, pretty much everything else that hasn't been translated sounds more interesting ....
       But, yes, I'll be covering it .....

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

       Translation from ... Japanese

       At the Asympotoe blog David Boyd has a Q & A: From Japan to Brazil: An Interview with Translator Rita Kohl.
       She translates from Japanese into Portuguese (in Brazil); always interesting to hear about translation in other languages.
       Among her observations:
One important thing to keep in mind is that the direct translation of Japanese fiction by mainstream publishers is a relatively recent development. Up to the 1990s, we had some pivot translations from English, such as a few novels by Mishima translated into Portuguese in the 1980s, but direct translations typically came from the academic world or the Japanese-Brazilian community, and didn't really reach a popular readership.
The shift we've seen from indirect to direct translation isn't limited to Japanese literature. It reflects a change in public perception of translation on the whole, which can also be seen, for example, in the translation of Russian literature. At the same time, since editors typically can't read the original work, we continue to depend on the canon of Japanese literature translated into other languages

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

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