Literary Saloon

the literary
weblog at the
complete review

the weblog

about the saloon
support the site

buy us books !
Amazon wishlist




to e-mail us:

literary weblogs:

  Arts Journal
  Books, Inq.
  Brandywine Books
  Collected Miscellany
  Critical Mass
  Elegant Variation
  Laila Lalami
  Maud Newton
  NewPages Weblog
  Rake's Progress
  Reading Experience
  ReadySteady Blog
  Waterboro lib blog
  Yahoo !

  La Feuille.
  La Muselivre

  Arts & Letters Daily
  Golden Rule Jones
  The Litblog Co-op
  Old Hag
  The Page
  This Space
  The Valve
  wood s lot

  See also: links page

saloon statistics

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

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 30 April 2007

21 April: More Kehlmann | Calder goes Oneworld Classics | Literary supplements | Marco Roth on Simenon | Pyramid Texts review
22 April: Early Divisadero reviews | Korean spending on books | Kelly on MBIP | James Patterson's book influences
23 April: PEN World Voices week | Elfriede Jelinek publishes online
24 April: Yves Bonnefoy takes Kafka Prize | Saving book reviews campaign | Critical alternatives ? | Electric Flesh review
25 April: PEN World Voices - preview | Capote Award for A Temple of Texts | (Not) reading in ... China | Soyinka on Sudan | Hermione Lee on the novel
26 April: PEN World Voices: Thursday preview - Trojanow/Kumar event report - Arthur Japin event | Grass and the SS, again | Comic novels
27 April: PEN World Voices: Friday preview - Japin event report | Reading The World | AMIDBM Arab Literary Prize
28 April: New World Literature Today | Erdal on translation | Gurnah on African fiction | International sales | PEN World Voices: Saturday preview - Petterson/Robinson event report | Japin reviews
29 April: PEN World Voices: Sunday preview - Voices From Today’s Iran event report | Los Angeles Times Book Prizes | Book collecting prize
30 April: German intellectuals | Stanford to buy a chunk of Suhrkamp ? | Salon du Livre de Tahiti

go to weblog

return to main archive

30 April 2007 - Monday

German intellectuals | Stanford to buy a chunk of Suhrkamp ? | Salon du Livre de Tahiti

       German intellectuals

       Cicero has published its annual list of the 500 most influential German-speaking public intellectuals. Only the top-ten are freely accessible online, with the Pope coming in tops (up thirteen places from last year).
       Writers continue to figure prominently, with Grass, Handke, Jelinek, and Martin Walser all figuring in the top ten.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Stanford to buy a chunk of Suhrkamp ?

       They're all in a tizzy in Germany about a rumour that Stanford University might buy into illustrious Brecht- and Hesse- (among many, many others) publisher Suhrkamp (which has been in a bizarre free-fall of ownership and editorial disputes for the past year or two)
       It looks more like a misunderstanding of intentions (Stanford does seem interested in being more involved in one of the Suhrkamp-imprints) than an actual (partial) take-over bid, but they're so desperate for the ownership-dispute to sort itself out that this has gotten blown far out of all proportion. Still, another fun chapter in what has become a very bizarre publishing saga.
       For German coverage, see, for example:
(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Salon du Livre de Tahiti

       They just finished up the Salon du Livre de Tahiti, and Tahitipresse has a (French) round-up in Prix littéraires et nouveautés au Salon du Livre de Tahiti.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

29 April 2007 - Sunday

PEN World Voices: Sunday preview - Voices From Today’s Iran event report
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes | Book collecting prize

       PEN World Voices: Sunday preview

       One last day of the PEN World Voices festival, and still some fine events to catch.
       The headliner is the closing event, the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture with David Grossman (18:30) -- and:
After the lecture, Grossman will be joined on stage by Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer for a discussion about his life and work.
       Among the other events of interest: Alain de Botton, Ma Jian, and Ilija Trojanow on Voyage and Voyeur: Travel and Travel Writing (12:00).

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       PEN World Voices: Voices From Today’s Iran event report

       Iranian authors Goli Taraghi, Moniru Ravanipur, and Shahriar Mandanipour participated in a panel hosted by Robert Silvers.
       Taraghi has lived abroad, in Paris, since 1979. She reported that, like so many, she was a supporter of the revolutionary sentiment, joining her students on the streets in 1979, only soon to be disillusioned by the catastrophic turn the revolution took. What she guessed would be one year abroad has turned into decades -- though she now returns to Iran once or twice a year.
       What she emphasised was the "cultural hypocrisy" she sees in contemporary Iran, where everyone acts one way in private, at home -- a lifestyle very similar to that in the (decadent) West ... -- and another way (veiled, the sexes segregated, etc.) in public.
       Moniru Ravanipur, speaking in Farsi, also spoke of a duality, of two people writing in her, as her background is from a part of Iran where belief in magic and the supernatural is still widespread, a place of water-worshippers, etc.
       All complained of an increased crack-down in Iran, as it has been harder to get the necessary licenses to get their books published.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

       The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have been announced; see Los Angeles Times Book Prizes awarded by Josh Getlin in The Los Angeles Times.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Book collecting prize

       Always fun: the stories about various college book collecting prizes. The Yale Daily News writes about Rewarding literary obsession, about The Adrian Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prize.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

28 April 2007 - Saturday

New World Literature Today | Erdal on translation
Gurnah on African fiction | International sales
PEN World Voices: Saturday preview - Petterson/Robinson event report
Japin reviews

       New World Literature Today

       The May-June issue of World Literature Today is now available online. All the contents are accessible -- but, alas, all in the much-dreaded pdf format, including the table of contents.
       Among the highlights: the first publication in English of García Márquez's Do You Know Who Mercè Rodoreda Was? (scroll down a bit), originally published in El País in 1983. (And for those who don't know who the great Mercè Rodoreda was: find out !)
       As always, see also their World Literature in review.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Erdal on translation

       Ghosting-author and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize juror Jennie Erdal offers a pretty feeble look at translation in The Guardian, in Let there be light, looking ahead to the awarding of the IFFP on Tuesday. Still, better than nothing.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Gurnah on African fiction

       In the Financial Times Abdulrazak Gurnah takes a look at four recent African novels in Post-nation depression, and concludes:
These four novels, in their very different ways, describe how African nations have failed their citizens. They do not all tell the same story. And perhaps these are not, despite appearances, uniquely African stories. The details of each are important in grasping the complexity of these disasters. But the intelligence and the courage of the writing make it clear that the betrayals and the bullying will not go on forever. African writing has not lost its critical and moral engagement with events.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       International sales

       At The Guardian weblog Jonathan Morrison reports from the London Book Fair, and offers this very depressing quote:
Sam Edenborough from the International Literary Agency, concludes: "We've seen a narrowing of openings. Whereas we used to make 80% of the money from 20% of the books, it's now 90% of the money from 10% of the rights. The mid-list is getting harder to sell, and literary fiction simply doesn't get picked up first time.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       PEN World Voices: Saturday preview

       Things don't slow down over the weekend, as Saturday also offers a full programme again.
       Among the highlights: Robert Silvers moderates a panel on Voices From Today’s Iran, the event you're most likely to find us attending (12:00).
       Surprisingly, foreign-language-literature-phobic NYTBR-editor Sam Tanenhaus (though he offers reviews of not one but two Hungarian-written titles in this Sunday's issue ...) gets involved with some foreign authors, as he moderates Mixing Art and Politics (also 12:00):
New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus talks with Festival authors about whether political writing really changes people’s minds and, if so, asks whether it can still be art.
       That should be fun too -- and given Tanenhaus' lack of respect for fiction it should be interesting to see whether he allows for much debate on the issue.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       PEN World Voices: Petterson/Robinson event report

       The Per Petterson and Marilynne Robinson event -- moderated by Radhika Jones (managing editor of The Paris Review) and introduced by Philip Gourevitch (editor of The Paris Review) was rather odd.
       We obviously have no sense of literary celebrity and star-power: we figured Petterson would be a huge draw (Graywolf just brought out Out Stealing Horses, and Picador have just brought out In the Wake in paperback), with leading American talent (Pulitzer, NBCC Award, etc.) Robinson drawing in those who might not be thinking so globally. But the Walter Reade Theater wasn't even half-full .....
       The event was videotaped, and so they'll be putting it up at the PEN site and you can see for yourself what was said. Both authors did offer interesting accounts about their lives and their writing, but they seemed a mismatched pair, and it was all a little aimless. Unwilling to hog the spotlight, each offered tantalizing bits but not their whole stories. And because it wasn't really an exchange between the authors, there wasn't any sense of a real continuing dialogue.
       Both authors -- and the audience -- would have been better served with individual showcase events .....
       But -- to much applause -- Robinson did acknowledge that she is working on another novel.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Japin reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are our reviews of the two Arthur Japin novels available in English:        For all those publishers and authors who submit titles to us for review and then are disappointed when we don't get to them immediately, note that we received our (unsolicited) copy of The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi from Alfred A. Knopf on 3 December 2000. Some 2300 days later, we finally got around to reviewing it ..... (And while circumstances put it top of the heap, the fact is it has always remained on the heap all these many years, i.e. was always at least in the vicinity of finally getting reviewed. As are, still, many other titles.)

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

27 April 2007 - Friday

PEN World Voices: Friday preview - Japin event report
Reading The World | AMIDBM Arab Literary Prize

       PEN World Voices: Friday preview

       Another full day of action at the PEN World Voices Festival on Friday.
       The highlight for us -- and the event we hope to report from -- is the conversation between Per Petterson and Marilynne Robinson, moderated by Radhika Jones (17:00, Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center). We have several of Petterson's book's under review (In the Wake, To Siberia, and Out Stealing Horses), and though we don't have any Robinson under review, she seems to have a pretty good reputation too .....
       Also of interest, two Indian heavyweights as Kiran Desai and Vikram Chandra talk with Rachel Donadio (18:30, at the Morgan Library).
       The Morgan Library also hosts: Black & Blue: Mediterranean Noir, with Massimo Carlotto, Yasmina Khadra, and Carlo Lucarelli (books by all of whom we have under review) (20:00).
       But those are only a few of the events: check out the whole programme, and you're sure to find ... probably far more of interest than you can manage.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       PEN World Voices: Japin event report

       A pretty sparse turn-out, but Arthur Japin put on a pretty good show in conversation with me last night. Originally an actor, he came to writing -- at least on a large scale -- fairly late, but retains the theatrical chops, as he showed in reading several of the passages from the two books currently available in English, In Lucia's Eyes and The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi.
       He noted that he spent some ten years working on that first big project, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi -- and that he continues to re-work the material, as radio-play, stage-play, and now as opera (the world premiere of Kwasi and Kwame will be this fall).
       Both novels fit right in this year's festival-theme of 'Home and Away'. Based on historical fact, they both feature protagonists for whom the Netherlands is the 'away' -- an interesting choice for a Dutch author (i.e. one for whom Holland is 'home'). But it's their outsider status that he said attracted him to the material, allowing for a reflection of his own experiences.
       He notes that even famed Dutch tolerance perhaps no longer is quite what it was, after several prominent murders (Theo van Gogh, Pim Fortuyn), but even in these novels he notes a difference between tolerance and acceptance -- as, for example, expressed in In Lucia's Eyes:
It was some time before I realized a thing assumed among the Dutch: Tolerance is not the equal of acceptance. Indeed, the two are more nearly opposites, the former sometimes serving as a subtle means of repression. To accept another is to embrace him unconditionally, now and always. But to tolerate him is to suggest in the same breath that he is rather an inconvenience, like a nagging pain or an unpleasant odor demanding temporary forbearance.
       Japin speaks a fluent English, and so I was interested in the translation issues, and he admitted it was difficult, after so carefully choosing every word and turn of sentence in the original, to accept the compromises that had to be made in the translations. Still, he said he's generally had fairly good experiences -- though something does seem to have gone wrong (and much lost) in one of the Spanish translations .....
       Someone from the audience asked whether he had ever tried writing a novel in English (apparently something he is often asked, but only by American audiences -- read into that what you will), and while he has written film-scripts and other material in English, he said that he wouldn't with a novel, with its much more exacting requirements.
       Two more books are due out in translation, with De droom van de leeuw -- his Fellini-novel -- to be published as Director's Cut (not, as originally planned, as The Lion Dreaming).

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

       Reading The World

       Among the admirable efforts to bring literature in translation to the attention of potential readers in the US is Reading The World:
Now in its third year, Reading The World is an exciting collaboration between booksellers and publishers interested in bringing international voices to the attention of readers like you.
       The titles that the participating publishers have chosen are now listed at the official site, and we'll run down which ones we have under review as RTW-time approaches (June and beyond seems to be this year's time-frame).

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       AMIDBM Arab Literary Prize

       In the continuing race to come up with the worst award-title going the otherwise admirable-sounding Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Blue Metropolis Arab Literary Prize tosses its hat into the ring, as Blue Metropolis announces inaugural Arab Literary Prize:
The Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Blue Metropolis Arab Literary Prize will be awarded annually for a lifetime of substantial literary achievement by an Arab writer working in any genre (poetry, fiction, etc.) in Arabic or another language. The winner will be chosen by a jury appointed by Blue Metropolis Foundation and chaired by the Artistic Director. The prize is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and has a value of $2,000.
       The first winner: Elias Khoury.
       Still: small potatoes when compared with the Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix, which offers $10,000 "to acknowledge a lifetime of literary achievement". This year's winner: Margaret Atwood.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

26 April 2007 - Thursday

PEN World Voices: Thursday preview - Trojanow/Kumar event report - Arthur Japin event
Grass and the SS, again | Comic novels

       PEN World Voices: Thursday preview

       Today's events at the PEN World Voices are spread all around Manhattan, but you could spend your entire day up in Morningside Heights, as Columbia is hosting three of the most tempting events: Make It New: Retranslating Great Literature at 14:30 with, among others, Edith Grossman and Mark Polizzotti; English: An Invasive Species ? at 16:30 with Siri Hustvedt and Ma Jian, and Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers at 19:30 with Heidi Julavits, Alain Mabanckou, and Marilynne Robinson, among others. (See also Words without Borders itself -- always worth a visit.)
       Among the other events of note: György Konrád in Conversation at the Hungarian Cultural Center (19:30).

       Much as we'd enjoy the translation panels, in particular, we have other obligations, as another evening event is Arthur Japin & Michael Orthofer in Conversation (yes, that's local barkeep MAO who will be conversing with Japin); more about that below.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       PEN World Voices: Trojanow/Kumar event report

       The first event I've managed to get to was Ilija Trojanow and Amitava Kumar discussing Postcolonial Writing in a Globalized World.
       A somewhat disappointing turnout (maybe 50 people) and probably far too broad a topic, but certainly bits of interest. For one: that Der Weltensammler is being translated into English (among about a dozen other languages) -- though no word on a due date.
       Trojanow read from the novel, in both German and English, while Kumar offered two other pieces -- including part of what Maud Newton usefully reproduces at her site in Kumar on post-colonial writing in a globalized world.
       Among the major points they did get to: the perhaps very American and certainly misguided belief that globalization is something that is new. Indeed, they argued that especially cultural transmission has often been easier in earlier times
       Trojanow's ultra-multikulti background -- Bulgarian-born, moved to Germany as a child, grew up in Kenya, lived some five or six years in Bombay (Mumbai), writes in German etc. -- is certainly almost an extreme of the international author in this day and age. As to the postcolonial-idea (as in 'postcolonial writing'), there wasn't much enthusiasm about that specific term: neither was ready to embrace it or think it particularly fitting.

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

       PEN World Voices: Arthur Japin event

       Substituting for Eduardo Lago, I'll be the one in conversation with Arthur Japin tonight at Housing Works, 126 Crosby St., from 18:30 to 19:30.
       Two of Japin's books are available in English. We don't have them under review yet, but can offer (p)review coverage (with everything but our own reviews) now: see In Lucia's Eyes and The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi. For additional information, see also Japin's own official site.

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

       Grass and the SS, again

       Die Zeit is apparently set to print another 'defense' of Günter Grass, as publisher Klaus Wagenbach has dug up notes for a monograph he was going to write in the early 1960s in which Grass clearly acknowledged his SS past (as opposed to recent claims that he's hidden it for all these years). Wagenbach isn't the first to say he heard about Grass' SS-past from Grass long ago, but the physical evidence makes it seem a bit more convincing.
       Nevertheless, not everyone is impressed: in Früher war er nicht so in the FAZ Edo Reents thinks it's a misguided effort -- after all, Grass himself has admitted keeping quiet about this blot on his past for sixty years ..... (Actually, that would be a pretty fun twist: if Grass were shown to be lying about covering up his Nazi-past .....) See also Der Tagesspiegel's report, Doch kein spätes Bekenntnis ?
       And just wait until the English translation of Grass' memoir comes out, and everybody rehashes all this nonsense yet again .....

       (Updated - 27 April): See now the Zeit-article.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Comic novels

       In Divine comedy in Prospect Julian Gough wonders why 'tragic' novels get so much more respect than comic ones:
Yet western culture since the middle ages has overvalued the tragic and undervalued the comic. We think of tragedy as major, and comedy as minor. Brilliant comedies never win the best film Oscar. The Booker prize leans toward the tragic.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

25 April 2007 - Wednesday

PEN World Voices - preview | Capote Award for A Temple of Texts
(Not) reading in ... China | Soyinka on Sudan | Hermione Lee on the novel

       PEN World Voices - preview

       The PEN World Voices programme gets into full swing today, with more events than we or any single person can attend. Fortunately, it looks like there will be considerable weblog coverage: MetaxuCafé will bring together reports from several sites (including this one), and numerous others will be reporting as well (The Elegant Variation looks to have particularly grand ambitions, and GalleyCat will no doubt also be keeping up with things).
       The Wednesday programme-events that sound most interesting to us begin with History and the Truth of Fiction, with a panel that includes former MoorishGirl Laila Lalami and Arthur Japin, and will be moderated by Colum McCann (13:00 to 14:30 at Hemmerdinger Hall at NYU).
       At Home in Europe is at the same venue 15:00 to 16:30, Jane Kramer moderating a panel that includes Geert Mak and Ilija Trojanow.
       Trojanow (see our review of his Der Weltensammler) then heads uptown to the one event we expect to cover: Postcolonial Writing in a Globalized World at the Goethe-Institut (18:00 to 19:30), where he'll be in conversation with Amitava Kumar (subbing for the original conversation-partner, novelist and UN under-secretary Shashi Tharoor).
       At more or less the same time the French Institute hosts Yasmina Khadra in Conversation with Emmanuelle Ertel (see our review of, for example, Khadra's The Attack).
       And the most star-studded event is the Town Hall Readings: Writing Home at 20:00. A Nobel laureate, Man Booker winners, even Steve Martin .....

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Capote Award for A Temple of Texts

       The only ones who seem to have reported this are the 'News from Washington University'-folk, who note that local man William H. Gass wins 2007 Truman Capote Award for 'A Temple of Texts'.
       Officially apparently known as the University of Iowa Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin (making it a front-runner for worst literary award name going (they're looking for 'Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin' ?) ...), it's nothing to sneeze at: they claim that at $30,000 it's "the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language"
       Gass gets to pick up the prize (and lecture) "in the fall".
       See also our review of A Temple of Texts.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       (Not) reading in ... China

       In Bring on the books China Daily laments that:
The classic books lying untouched on the shelf are becoming nothing more than interior decor.
       No word on where they get the numbers, but if even close to accurate they'd be troubling indeed:
Statistics indicate that only 5 percent of Chinese read books, and the percentage of people reading literature in their spare time is decreasing in recent years. In contrast, the number of university students on campus has rocketed from 6 million in 1998 to 17 million in 2005.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Soyinka on Sudan

       In Author Speaks About Sudan in The Harvard Crimson Caroline Bleeke reports that:
Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, argued that the Arab section of Sudan must confront its past and acknowledge its role in the violence in Darfur instead of remaining in a "state of amnesia."

In a speech last night called "Darfur: Anything to do with Slavery ?" Soyinka addressed the ongoing violence that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of displaced refugees.
       Surely a story that deserves better than this sound-bite:
Jacqueline Bhabha, executive director of the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, called the speech "brilliant."

"He did an excellent job of contextualizing the problem within a broader context," Bhabha said.
       (Contextual contextualizing ! What next ?)

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Hermione Lee on the novel

       Among the pieces from the 10 May issue of The New York Review of Books that are online is Hermione Lee's Storms Over the Novel, in which she tackles quite a few books on the novel, from Kundera's The Curtain to the Moretti-edited two-volume The Novel, drawing also on her experiences as chair of the Man Booker judges last year.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

24 April 2007 - Tuesday

Yves Bonnefoy takes Kafka Prize | Saving book reviews campaign
Critical alternatives ? | Electric Flesh review

       Yves Bonnefoy takes Kafka Prize

       We should have noticed this earlier, but it hasn't attracted much attention (and they haven't even bothered to mention it at the official site): French poet Yves Bonnefoy wins Franz Kafka Award.
       Given that in 2004 and 2005 they gave this award to the eventual Nobel-winner (Jelinek and Pinter, respectively), and last year they gave it to Murakami Haruki, they have a pretty good track record. Bonnefoy can certainly use the attention -- though FSG has a new collection out, and have some Bonnefoy-related entries at their one-month weblog, The Best Words in Their Best Order.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Saving book reviews campaign

       Going on the offensive, The National Book Critics Circle's Campaign to Save Book Reviews aims to ... well, save book reviews:
Over the next six weeks, in a new series on our blog Critical Mass, we will feature posts by concerned writers, interviews with book editors in the trenches, links to op-eds by critics, novelists and other NBCC board members, Q&As with newspaper editors and owners who will explain the business context for these changes, and tips for what you can do to help save book reviewing.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Critical alternatives ?

       MJ Iles apparently isn't that concerned with the fate of book reviews (see above), and at The Guardian wonders: "But where can you turn if you've lost faith in the critics ?" in Seeing past the critics.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Electric Flesh review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Claro's Electric Flesh.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

23 April 2007 - Monday

PEN World Voices week | Elfriede Jelinek publishes online

       PEN World Voices week

       Exciting times for anyone in the New York area interested in (international) literature this week, as PEN World Voices is back, with an impressive programme. (Presumably among the few not interested: Sam Tanenhaus, whose 22 April NYTBR strongly suggests the 15 April all-translated-fiction issue (see our mention) was a token effort (and aberration): this time around 19 books receive the individual full-length review treatment and not a one was written in a foreign language, of the 11 other titles covered in the 'Nonfiction Chronicle', 'Crime'-roundup, and one two-for-one review a single mystery title was written in a foreign language .....)
       This year's PEN theme is Home & Away, as writers will:
discuss their relationships to their own and each others’ homes; the political and social implications of concepts like homelands; and how literature helps us negotiate the divide between the familiar and the strange, the mundane and the exotic.
       Far more events of considerable interest than one could possibly attend (especially since some take place concurrently), but it's hard to complain about this wealth of choices. (And note that they do a good job of putting material online: keep an eye out on the Audio library, which should be filling up with this year's events too.) It begins with a manageable two events on Tuesday, and we'll be reminding you of what might be of particular interest as the week continues.

       Note also that local barkeep M.A.Orthofer is a last-minute stand-in for Eduardo Lago and will be in conversation with Arthur Japin on Thursday; we'll be previewing that later in the week too.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Elfriede Jelinek publishes online

       Elfriede Jelinek's Greed is just out in the US (from Seven Stories Press, see their publicity page, or get your copy from or, but her most recent German work is appearing chapter by chapter and only online: see chapters one and two of the 'Privatroman' ('private novel') Neid ('Envy')
       It's getting considerable attention in the German press: see Dieses Buch ist kein Buch in the FAZ and Jedem das Meine -- Elfriede Jelinek online in Die Welt. And it should attract more attention as the project continues -- an author of her prominence publishing online-only is still a rarity. (Of course, with her Nobel winnings she can afford it, too.)

       Also: we kind of like the fact that, despite Nobel-renown and whatnot, her official site piggy-backs on husband Gottfried Hüngsberg's a-e-m Entwicklungslabor für Industrieelektronik-site (and -- we're guessing -- makes for most of the traffic there too).

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

22 April 2007 - Sunday

Early Divisadero reviews | Korean spending on books
Kelly on MBIP | James Patterson's book influences

       Early Divisadero reviews

       Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero is now out in Canada (get your copy at, or pre-order at or, and the first reviews are out. See reviews at:        See also the Alfred A. Knopf publicity page.
       We'll probably be covering it once we get our hands on a copy.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Korean spending on books

       The statistics are not impressive: Yonhap News reports that S. Korean spending on books falls in 2006.
households spent an average of only 7,902 won a month to buy books or magazines, less than the average book price of 11,545 won, indicating that many households do not even purchase one book a month, the office said.
       But at least they're still spending a good amount on cigarettes.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Kelly on MBIP

       Stuart Kelly considers the Man Booker International Prize shortlist and thinks: Prize for complacency goes to the Man Booker judges resting on their laureates:
Rather than being a truly international survey of the best in contemporary fiction writing, this shortlist positively reeks of smug complacency and petty parochialism.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       James Patterson's book influences

       There's a bizarre disconnect here -- James Patterson, a writer's anti-writer if ever there was one, joins in the A Life In Books-fun at Newsweek and claims that among the five most influential book he's read are not only García Márquez and Ulysses but Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet. And as far as 'A Certified Important Book you haven't read' he suggests ... Are You There, God ? It's Me, Margaret.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

21 April 2007 - Saturday

More Kehlmann | Calder goes Oneworld Classics | Literary supplements
Marco Roth on Simenon | Pyramid Texts review

       More Kehlmann

       Daniel Kehlmann continues to get good coverage in the UK, where his Measuring the World is just out:
       In The Independent Boyd Tonkin profiles Daniel Kehlmann: A global literary sensation, while in The Guardian Kehlmann "reflects on the art of historical fiction and what it taught him about his national identity" in Out of this world.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Calder goes Oneworld Classics

       Good to hear that John Calder's books have found what sounds like a good home, bought out by Oneworld Classics, "an independent publisher with offices in London (Richmond) and Oxford. Launched in 2007 by the directors of Oneworld Publications and Alma Books". (Any publisher with its own translation prize -- in this case the Oneworld Classics Translation Prize -- is okay with us.)
       See reports by The Literator (in The Independent) and Joel Rickett (The bookseller, in The Guardian, third item). The latter reports:
They'll keep his eponymous imprint running, with the irrepressible Calder still commissioning books himself, and they've also guaranteed the future of his bookshop and theatre near Waterloo.
       Sounds like a pretty happy end.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Literary supplements

       They had a seminar considering Are literary supplements a strong influence on publishing and reading ? at the London Book Fair, and at Critical Mass John Freeman reports on it, in In Spain, the Sun Shines Everyday, and all the Lit Supplements are 204 pages long.
       It should be food for thought for American newspaper publishers -- but they probably think they know better ....

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Marco Roth on Simenon

       In The Nation Marco Roth writes on Georges Simenon in It's Doom Alone That Counts, finding:
To posterity, then, the Belgian-born writer appears as one of literature's great graphomaniacs.
He may now be a New York Review of Books "Classic," but his canonization reflects both the best and worst of the twentieth century's obsession with interior psychology.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

       Pyramid Texts review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Gamal al-Ghitani's Pyramid Texts, just out in English translation.

(Posted by: complete review)    - permanent link -

previous entries (11 - 20 April 2007)

archive index

- return to top of the page -

© 2007 the complete review

the Complete Review
Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links