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the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review
opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


27 January 2022 - Thursday

Icelandic Literary Prize | IPAF longlist
PEN America Literary Awards longlists | Ockham NZ Book Awards longlists

       Icelandic Literary Prize

       They announced the winners of this year's Icelandic Literary Prize, and Hallgrimur Helgason's Sextíu kíló af kjaftshöggum won in the fiction category; see, for example, the (Icelandic) report at mbl.is.
       This is the third time he's taken the prize -- winning it also for Sextíu kíló af sólskini, which Sextíu kíló af kjaftshöggum is the sequel to.
       See also the Forlagið foreign rights page for Sextíu kíló af kjaftshöggum.

       Two earlier Hallgrimur Helgason titles are under review at the complete review: 2001 Icelandic Literary Prize-winner Höfundur Íslands as well as 101 Reykjavík.

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       IPAF longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction, sixteen novels selected from 122 entries.
       I'm particularly intrigued by Haji Jabir's The Abyssinian Rimbaud.
       The shortlist will be announced in March, and the winner in May.

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



       PEN America Literary Awards longlists

       PEN America has announced the longlists for their Literary Awards
       The only longlisted title under review at the complete review is from the PEN Translation Prize category, Lara Vergnaud's translation of Fatima Daas' The Last One.

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



       Ockham NZ Book Awards longlists

       They've announced the longlists for this year's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, selected from 160 entries.
       The shortlists will be announced on 2 March, and the winners on 11 May.

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



26 January 2022 - Wednesday

LTI Korea ambitions | Hopscotch Translation turns one | The Godmother review

       LTI Korea ambitions

       In The Korea Herald Park Ga-young profiles the president of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, Kwak Hyo-hwan, in Bringing Korean content to the world.
       Among other things Kwak notes:
LTI Korea will broaden its scope to encompass any content requiring translation from Korean, including webtoons, dramas and movies.
       Amusing to see that the Nobel-obsession continues, too:
Although winning a Nobel Prize should not be the main goal for Korean literature, we see it as being possible if we continue to work to better to represent our literature
       Still eyeing the prize .....
       (Hey, they're not the only ones; see also Julia Lovell on China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature, in her The Politics of Cultural Capital.)

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       Hopscotch Translation turns one

       Hopscotch Translation -- "an online revue dedicated to celebrating and discussing the complexity and diversity of literary translation" -- is celebrating their one-year anniversary, and on the occasion they asked: "a group of literary translators to reflect on works in translation they have loved, that were translated from a language that they don't themselves know" -- certainly an interesting exercise.

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



       The Godmother review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hannelore Cayre's The Godmother.

       This took several European best-mystery awards but, despite some good review-coverage, seems to have flown a bit under the radar in the US. (Maybe also because the North American edition is from a Canadian publisher ?) The movie tie-in -- despite starring Isabelle Huppert -- probably didn't help, since they fatally retitled it Mama Weed.

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



25 January 2022 - Tuesday

'Best and Most Anticipated Translated Literature'
Urdu literary magazines

       'Best and Most Anticipated Translated Literature'

       At WNYC's All Of It Corinne Segal recommends: "the best of 2021 and upcoming translated books", in The Best and Most Anticipated Translated Literature.

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       Urdu literary magazines

       In Dawn Rauf Parekh reports on how Urdu's literary magazines surviving against all odds.

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



24 January 2022 - Monday

Benjamín Labatut Q & A | Bangla Academy Literary Awards
The Books of Jacob review

       Benjamín Labatut Q & A

       In Physics Today Ryan Dahn has an Author Q&A: Benjamín Labatut on physics and the void.
       The subject is, of course, mainly his book, When We Cease to Understand the World. Among the interesting titbits, he says about the English version of the book:
I wrote the last section of the book, “The Night Gardener,” directly in English and had to translate it into Spanish. So I was very involved with the translation. [...] I prefer the English version.
       More disappointing:
I don’t enjoy reading anymore because I judge books too harshly. I can’t enjoy straight narrative anymore.
       Also: some teasers as to his forthcoming work.

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       Bangla Academy Literary Awards

       The Bangla Academy has announced their literary awards -- fifteen writers, poets, researchers, and translators winning the award in eleven categories; see also the New Age report.

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



       The Books of Jacob review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk's The Books of Jacob.
       The UK edition came out last year already, but it's only coming to the US now, from Riverhead Books.
       It won both the leading Polish literary prize, the Nike Award (in 2015), as well as the 2018 Jan Michalski Prize.

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23 January 2022 - Sunday

Banaag at Sikat | Aneesa Abbas Higgins Q & A

       Banaag at Sikat

       In The Philippine Star Danton Remoto writes about his recently published translation of Lope K. Santos' 1906 novel, Banaag at Sikat: Radiance and Sunrise, in ‘Asia’s first proletariat novel’.
       It's apparently the first in a new series of Penguin Classics -- Southeast Asian Classics; see also the publicity page. Unfortunately, it seems only to be readily in Southeast Asai at this time; hopefully it and the other titles in the series will also eventually be available in US/UK editions.

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       Aneesa Abbas Higgins Q & A

       At Words without Borders' WWB Daily Samantha Schnee has a Q & A with the National Book Award for Translated Literature-winner, in Becoming a “Second-Career” Translator: A Conversation with Aneesa Abbas Higgins.
       The prize-winning translation was of Elisa Shua Dusapin's Winter in Sokcho.

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



22 January 2022 - Saturday

Prix Émile Guimet | Slavenka Drakulić profile

       Prix Émile Guimet

       They've announced the winner of the 2021 prix Émile Guimet de littérature asiatique, and it is the French translation of Ng Kim Chew's 雨 ('Rain'); see the Livres Hebdo report; see also the Éditions Picquier publicity page.

       (Columbia University Press has published an earlier collection of his, Slow Boat to China and Other Stories; see their publicity page.)

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       Slavenka Drakulić profile

       At Eurozine they have Zsófia Lóránd on 'How Slavenka Drakulić made space for women's issues in Yugoslavia', in The stakes of feminism.

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21 January 2022 - Friday

NBCC Awards finalists | National Jewish Book Awards
New issue of Asymptote | The Invitation review

       NBCC Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Awards.
       The only two finalists under review at the complete review are Criticism-finalist Everything and Less by Mark McGurl and Fiction-finalist The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen.
       The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to Merve Emre.
       The winners will be announced 17 March.

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       National Jewish Book Awards

       The Jewish Book Council has announced the winners of the (many) 2021 National Jewish Book Awards.
       The only winning title under review at the complete review is Fiction-category winner The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen.

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



       New issue of Asymptote

       The January issue of Asymptote is now available -- their 43rd issue, featuring new work from 43 countries.
       Among the material: a Flemish literature feature, and an interview with George Szirtes.

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       The Invitation review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Claude Simon's 1987 novel The Invitation, published by Dalkey Archive Press, back in the day.

       New York Review Classics is bringing out a new edition of The Flanders Road this summer -- see their publicity page -- so I thought I'd have a look at this little curiosity in preparation. It's an odd little work -- a roman à clef featuring, basically undisguised, Peter Ustinov, Arthur Miller, and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others.

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



20 January 2022 - Thursday

Edgar® Awards finalists | WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist
Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Edgar® Awards finalists

       The Mystery Writers of America have announced the finalists for this year's Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
       The winners will be announced 28 April.

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



       WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist

       The WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis is a literary prize for short texts (between eight and twenty-five pages), fiction or non, that engage with socio-political themes, paying out €35,000 -- making it one of the richest literary prizes going, as reckoned per word -- and they've now announced this year's five finalists.
       You can read all five of the texts, too -- links on the page -- though, yes, they are in German .....

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       Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Oulipo-author Michelle Grangaud has passed away; see, for example, the obituary by Frédéric Forte at Le Monde (paywalled, after a point, but at least a part of it is freely accessible).
       See also the P.O.L page of her works they published.

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



19 January 2022 - Wednesday

Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists
'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation' | Korean fiction abroad | Bambi

       Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards, one of the leading Iranian literary prizes.
       The winners of these prizes will collect between one billion and one and half billion rials. Yes, that's only US$3,650-5,500, but it does sound impressive, doesn't it ?
       As the Tehran Times reports;
Five books, including “Without Father’s Name”, are competing in the novel category.

[...]

Other nominees include “Killing Angel” by Alireza Hassanzadeh, “The Prophet Who Made No Miracle” by Mohammad-Ali Rokni, “A Mute Sonnet” by Mitra Moeini, and “Sad Moon, Red Moon” by Reza Julai.
       See also the Jamkaran publicity page for Seyyed Meisam Musavian's Without Father’s Name.
       The winners will be announced in two weeks.

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       'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation'

       In Columbia Paul Hond writes at some length on The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation (published in print as: The Impossible Art ?) -- featuring also comments by many Columbia University-affiliated translators.

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



       Korean fiction abroad

       The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has apparently collected data: "on the sales of 492 sorts of South Korean literary translations" for the five-year-period 2016 to 2020, and at Yonhap News Agency they report that 'Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,' most-sold S. Korean literary book overseas.
       Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (which I haven't seen) has been:
translated into 10 different languages and sold more than 300,000 copies during the 2016-20 period. The book's Japanese translation, in particular, sold more than 200,000 copies since its release in 2018.
       The second-bestselling title was Han Kang's The Vegetarian "which sold more than 160,000 copies in 13 foreign languages".
       I hope the full run-down, with all the sales-figures, is published at some point.

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       Bambi

       A new translation Felix Salten's Bambi -- the basis for the Disney movie -- is getting a lot of attention, with Joanne O'Sullivan reporting at length at Publishers Weekly that New Bambi Translation Reveals the Dark Origins of the Disney Story and Kathryn Schulz writing about how “Bambi” Is Even Bleaker Than You Thought in The New Yorker.
       Fascinating also to learn that:
The English-language version, as translated in 1928 by the soon to be Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers, was enormously popular, earning rave reviews and selling six hundred and fifty thousand copies in the dozen-plus years before the film came out.
       The new translation, by Jack Zipes, is The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest; see also the Princeton University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; it's due out at the end of next month.

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



18 January 2022 - Tuesday

Malayalam literature | Nnedi Okorafor Q & A | Arno Schmidt at 108

       Malayalam literature

       In Vogue (India) Sana Goyal reports that It's high time Malayalam literature claimed a spot on our bookshelves.
       Jayasree Kalathil observes:
The Crossword Book Award for Indian-language translation went to Malayalam literature nine out of 20 times between 1999 and 2019. But that was a prize for translation. What the JCB Prize has done is to make translated literature, and through it the amazing and varied regional literatures of India, an integral part of Indian literature in English
       It would be great if more of the translated titles were more readily accessible in the US/UK .....

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       Nnedi Okorafor Q & A

       In Chicago Nneka McGuire has a Q & A with the author, in Nnedi Okorafor's Books Focus on Future Tense.

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



       Arno Schmidt at 108

       Just a reminder that today is Arno Schmidt's birthday; he was born on 18 January 1914.
       For more about him, you can always check out my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk)

       Bonus: it's also the anniversary of local favorite Edward Bulwer-Lytton -- whose My Novel Schmidt translated ..... See also, for example, Leslie Mitchell's biography.

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



17 January 2022 - Monday

India literature and publishing study | UK debut novelists
Rider on the Rain review

       India literature and publishing study

       The British Council commissioned a research study from the Art X Company on 'India Literature and Publishing Sector Research', aimed:
at understanding the challenges faced by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry bodies when making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.
       The full study can now be found here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the English version -- and here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the full version, in all the different languages.
       Among the observations: regarding Indian literature in English translation abroad:
There is a lack of awareness of what is available in translation from India, due to lack of proactive research. There is also a lack of knowledge with regard to the variety of languages and their literary outputs in India. Only niche publishers make a concerted effort to look beyond established perceptions.
       And:
The most crucial recommendation that was widely suggested across the board by our respondents was the need for a curated database of Indian literature available in English translation, and a showcase of such a database that could be accessed by agents, publishers and others interested in buying rights for the UK market.
       Some good suggestions here -- but I'm not sure how realizable they are.

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       UK debut novelists

       In The Observer they go about Introducing our 10 best debut novelists of 2022, which includes brief Q & As with each of the authors.
       Some fun titbits along the way -- such as the author who says that W G.Sebald was: "very dry and droll, very likable but sort of Eeyore-ish".

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       Rider on the Rain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sébastien Japrisot's Rider on the Rain, recently re-issued by Gallic Books.

       Japrisot wrote the screenplay to the 1970 René Clément film -- starring Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland ! -- and this 1992 novel is ... well, a novel-version of that.

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



16 January 2022 - Sunday

Prix Mémorable | Philosophical Notebooks II review

       Prix Mémorable

       The prix Mémorable is a French prize for a new edition of a forgotten French author or for a work by a deceased foreign author who has never previously been published in French -- and/or a few similar variations; basically an older, overlooked work that is now available in French; previous winners range from John Wain's 1962 novel Strike the Father Dead (2019) to Emmanuel Bove's My Friends (2016).
       They've now announced the winner of the 2021 prize, and it is the French translation of Luisa Carnés' Tea Rooms; see, for example, the ActuaLitté report -- and see also the New Spanish Books information page about the novel.

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



       Philosophical Notebooks II review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kurt Gödel's Philosophische Notizbücher - Band 2: Zeiteinteilung (Maximen) I und II / Philosophical Notebooks - Volume 2: Time Management (Maxims) I and II, the second in the landmark De Gruyter series of his notebooks.

       This and the previous volume, while probably among the titles that will get the fewest readers of any of those under review at the complete review, are certainly among the ones I was most pleased to receive last, year, and to be able to now cover -- fascinating material.

       The rest of the work is very different, but I do also particularly like the final page of the notebooks here -- an almost poetic Ausklang to the otherwise so methodical work:

Gödel - Notizbücher II

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



15 January 2022 - Saturday

Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       At Tablet David Samuels has an extensive Q & A with Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Nomad.

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



14 January 2022 - Friday

Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022) | The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'
Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022)

       Iranian author Iraj Pezeshkzad has passed away; see, for example, the Iran Front Page report.
       Pezeshkzad's My Uncle Napoleon is one of the classics -- and certainly the comic classic -- of modern Iranian literature; see also the Modern Library publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Last year Syracuse University Press also came out with a translation of his Hafez in Love -- see their publicity page --; I haven't seen this one yet, but I hope to.

       (Updated - 20 January): See now also Emily Langer's obituary in The Washington Post, Iraj Pezeshkzad, celebrated Iranian satirist and author of ‘My Uncle Napoleon,’ dies.

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       The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'

       The Millions has now published their Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2022 Book Preview -- "nearly 200 books".
       Lots of good books here -- but quite a few of the titles I am looking forward to aren't found here -- beginning with The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (I just got my copy ...); see also the publicity pages from Riverhead Books and Fitzcarraldo Editions, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Just off the top of my head, among my other most-anticipated that didn't make this list are:        (And there are a lot, lot more.)

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       Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       hlo now complete their overview of Hungarian works published in English translation with those from the second half of 2021, in Hungarian Books in Translation: 2021/2.
       The only one of these I have/seen is the Bodor, which I am looking forward to getting to.

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



13 January 2022 - Thursday

Banipal Prize | Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist
'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books' | Canada Reads longlist
Longing and Other Stories review

       Banipal Prize

       They've announced the winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it is Sarah Enany for her translation of The Girl with Braided Hair, by Rasha Adly; see also the Hoopoe publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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       Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist

       They've announced the eight titles in the running for the Abolhassan Najafi Award, an Iranian prize for the best translation into Persian; see the Tehran Times report.
       An interesting variety of titles -- from Chester Himes' A Rage in Harlem to Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

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



       'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books'

       In The Washington Post Michael Dirda considers You're done with it all. You head for the hills. What books do you bring ? coming up with a list of sixty-six of his favorite books -- though he limits himself here: "to 20th-century prose by English-language authors, one book apiece".
       A very varied list, certainly of some interest.
       Only three of the titles are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Canada Reads longlist

       They've announced this year's Canada Reads longlist.
       Five panelists will choose five of these books to champion; these will be revealed on 26 January.

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



       Longing and Other Stories review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Longing and Other Stories, a collection of three early stories just out in English, from Columbia University Press.

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



12 January 2022 - Wednesday

Booker Prize judges | NEA fellowships

       Booker Prize judges

       They've announced who will be judging the 2022 Booker Prize for Fiction, with Neil MacGregor chairing the panel that includes Shahidha Bari, Helen Castor, Light-author M.John Harrison, and Broken Glass-author Alain Mabanckou.
       Great to see Mabanckou and Harrison as judges !
       [Updated: in an earlier version of this post I had mistakenly said Mabanckou was a member of the Académie française; he's not -- though he is a Francophone author, and was awarded their Grand Prix de Littérature in 2012.]
       Submissions are now also open for the prize -- now if they would only reveal what those submissions are, once they get them .....

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       NEA fellowships

       The (American) National Endowment for the Arts has announced "the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2022, with 1,498 awards totaling nearly $33.2 million.", including 35 Creative Writing Fellowships and fellowships to 24 translators.
       Lots of interesting projects here to look forward to.

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



11 January 2022 - Tuesday

Reading in ... the US | T.S.Eliot Prize
Neal Stephenson Q & A | Islandia review

       Reading in ... the US

       Jeffrey M. Jones reports on the latest Gallup results, finding that Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past.
       The decline is pretty bad, the average number of books read down to 12.6, from 15.6 in 2016. The number of Americans who don't read at all has remained roughly the same -- 17% in the most recent survey -- but those who do are reading less, with the biggest decline in those answering that they read 11 or more books in the past year.
       And:
The decline is greater among subgroups that tended to be more avid readers, particularly college graduates but also women and older Americans. College graduates read an average of about six fewer books in 2021 than they did between 2002 and 2016, 14.6 versus 21.1.
       The sad conclusion is that: "Reading appears to be in decline as a favorite way for Americans to spend their free time", as:
The new data on book reading reinforce that the popularity of reading is waning, with Americans reading an average of three fewer books last year than they did five years ago and had typically read for the past three decades.
       Sigh, sigh, sigh.

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       T.S.Eliot Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's T.S.Eliot Prize, and it is C+nto, by Joelle Taylor; see, for example, Alison Flood's report in The Guardian.
       See also the Saqi publicity page for C+nto.

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       Neal Stephenson Q & A

       In The New York Times Magazine David Marchese has a Q & A with the Termination Shock-author, in Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us.

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       Islandia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Austin Tappan Wright's classic novel, Islandia, first published posthumously in 1942.

       This was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, back in the day -- while Kirkus Reviews said it was: "Definitely a stunt book, a literary and imaginative tour de force. Watch it".

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



10 January 2022 - Monday

Bestseling in the US in 2021 | Translation into ... Balochi
2021 in review at the complete review

       Bestseling in the US in 2021

       At Publishers Weekly John Maher reports on the 25 bestselling print titles in the US in 2021 -- with the (NPD BookScan) numbers ! --, in Dav Pilkey Dominated the 2021 Bestseller List.
       Aside from one of those Pilkey titles, American Marxism was the only title selling a million copies (sigh); I haven't seen, much less reviewed, any of the top 25.

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       Translation into ... Balochi

       At The News on Sunday Fazal Baloch finds that: 'Balochi literature has recently witnessed a great surge in the realm of translation' in looking at A year in translation.
       Always interesting to see what gets translated into other languages.

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       2021 in review at the complete review

       Here is the annual overview of the year that was at the site, mostly in numbers:

       In 2020, 174 books were reviewed at the complete review, down considerably from the 198 in 2020 and the fewest in a long time. One reason was that the books were longer -- the 174 reviewed books had 51,302 pages, compared to 50,683 pages for the 198 2020 books -- with the average length of reviewed books 294.84 pages in 2021, up almost 40 pages per book over 2020 and by far the highest annual average to date; yes, I am increasingly drawn even more to long novels ..... (The median length of reviewed books -- 240.5 -- was also up 10 pages over the 2020 median.)
       The longest book reviewed was *only* 950 pages -- not a thousand-pager in the lot -- while 21 of the books were over 500 pages (compared to 12 in 2020). (Seven books were under 100 pages in length.)

       The average review length seems to have plateaued at a current comfort level (after steadily increasing to this point over the years), the 1545.14 words/review average in 2021 only slightly more than the 1521 in 2020. (Total review-words written -- given the fewer review -- was down considerably however, to 268,854.)
       The median review-length was 1397 words, and the longest was 3816 words long -- which was not even that much of an outlier, with six reviews clocking in at over 3000 words (and 27 more over 2000).

       You can find the 50 most popular reviews, 2021 here.

       The most popular author pages were:
  1. Amélie Nothomb
  2. Murakami Haruki
  3. Patrick White
  4. Cynthia Ozick
  5. Roberto Bolaño
       The most popular review-indices were for:
  1. Far East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) literature
  2. Mysteries and Thrillers
  3. Books Written Before 1900
  4. Erotic, Pornographic, and Sex-related books
  5. Eastern European literature
  6. French literature
  7. Books from selected Imprints and Publishers
  8. German literature
  9. Latin and South American literature
  10. Science fiction
       These were also the top ten indices last year -- albeit in different order. Last year's number one, the erotic index, has again slipped down to fourth place -- yo-yo-ing between the two positions for the past four years.

       Disappointingly, books originally written in only 29 languages (including English) were reviewed in 2021 -- down from 38 in 2020.
       The top ten languages were:
  • 1. English 45 (25.86% of all books) (2020: 54)
  • 2. French 27 (2020: 29)
  • 3. Spanish 14 (13)
  • 4. German 13 (11)
  • 5. Japanese 12 (13)
  • 6. Italian 9
  • 7. Chinese 7
  • 8. Arabic 5
  • -. Danish 5
  • -. Swedish 5
       It's more difficult to get any sort of meaningful count of countries, not least because countries change over the years (the Soviet Union, ancient Rome, etc.), but authors of reviewed books in 2021 came from roughly 51 countries, compared to 55 in 2020. The leading countries were:
  • 1. US 27 (2020: 21)
  • 2. France 22 (22)
  • 3. Japan 12 (14)
  • 4. UK 11 (23)
  • 5. Italy 9 (10)
       The ratio of male-to-female authors remains consistently poor, but women writers did almost make more than a quarter of all reviewed titles: 45 books were by female authors, 25.86%.

       Two titles received an 'A' grade -- The Membranes, by Chi Ta-wei, and Richard Zenith's biography of Pessoa.
       Eighteen titles got a grade of 'A-', 76 'B+', 69 'B'; the lowest grade was a single 'C'.

       Site traffic continued a longtime decline at the beginning of the year, flattened out over the summer, and increased at a good clip towards the end of the year.
       Regionally, the biggest decline in traffic was in South America, while the lowest decline was in Africa. Among the countries providing the most traffic to the site, growth was strong in the Philippines -- but even stronger in China, where it was up over 60% over 2020, pushing it into sixth place overall (up from ninth in 2020). Meanwhile, traffic from the United States was down -- and, at 32.95% of all traffic, dipped below one-third of all traffic for the first time.
       There were visitors from 215 countries and territories in 2020 (2020: 222).

       The countries from which the most traffic came were:
  1. United States (32.95%; 2020: 35.40%)
  2. India (9.56%)
  3. United Kingdom (8.92%)
  4. Philippines
  5. Canada
  6. China
  7. Australia
  8. Nigeria
  9. Germany
  10. Netherlands

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



9 January 2022 - Sunday

Publishing in ... India | Review copies in 2021

       Publishing in ... India

       In The Hans India Zafri Mudasser Nofil looks at How publishers beat Covid blues in 2021 ! in India.

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



       Review copies in 2021

       Unsurprisingly, the COVID epidemic really impacted the receiving of review copies at the complete review in 2020; the 231 (physical) review copies I did receive were the fewest since 2004. Publishers have now gotten more on track again, and so things did pick up considerably in 2021, with 331 review copy arrivals (and 389 book acquisitions in total).
       (I did have access to quite a few e-versions of books, but these are not included in the totals except for titles that were reviewed based solely on the e-version; I find the format almost impossible to work with (beyond as reference -- for name-/spelling-checking, for example) and will do pretty much anything to avoid them; in 2021 two reviews were off e-versions -- and that was two too many.)

       I reviewed a considerably higher percentage of review copies than usual: as of 31 December 2021 I had reviewed 105 of the 331 I had received (31.72%). (I have since reviewed three more.) By comparison: in 2020 I had reviewed, by year-end, 57 of the 231 review copies I had received (24.68%); in 2019 it was 102 out of 437 (23.34%).
       (Naturally, I continue to get to books received in any given year after that year is over -- so, for example, I have now reviewed 75 of the 231 2020 titles (32.47%) and 138 of the 437 2019 titles (31.58%).)

       A number of publishers send me more or less all their titles, and quite a few more send the titles they think I'd be interested in (mainly fiction in translation); several others send checklists or the like for me to choose the titles of interest, which are then usually (though not always) provided. Beyond that, I also request many titles -- responses to which still tend to be very hit or miss. But every book I receive is much appreciated, even if I don't manage to get to it, or don't immediately.
       (Books reviewed in 2021 included one where I had received the review copy 5721 days before the review was posted, another was reviewed 3312 days after it was received; yes, sometimes it takes longer than others .....)

       Ten publishers provided ten or more review copies in 2021 (compared to five in 2020) -- with four more providing nine each. The top fifteen providers of review copies in 2021 were:        As the list suggests, major publishers don't figure prominently as suppliers of review copies -- though admittedly this in part also reflects my review-preferences -- obviously much closer to what, for example, Dedalus publishes than one of the big five. That said, I could certainly do with seeing some more of their titles, especially those in translation. Also under-represented are a number of smaller but significant independents with a focus on literature in translation who are perhaps understandably reluctant to provide print copies of titles (at least to me; they generally do make e-copies available -- but, as noted, I basically can't work with/off those, much as I'd like to).
       One publisher whom I expect or at least hope to get (many) more review copies from in 2022 is the revived Dalkey Archive Press -- the top provider to the site in their heyday, and apparently getting back on course; only five titles all last year, but I keep my fingers crossed at seeing bucket-loads in 2022.

       What books I (can) get from publishers certainly does strongly influence what gets reviewed at the site. There are a number of major 2021 titles I would have covered, had I been able to obtain a copy; on the other hand, most of those are well-covered elsewhere, so it's probably for the best that instead I devoted the time to the titles from smaller presses that don't get nearly as much attention .....

       See also the comprehensive Index of Books Received and Acquired - 2021.

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



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