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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 October 2009

11 October: Stothard on reviewing panel | 'm-book' down under | Aldo Buzzi (1910-2009) | The Madman of Freedom Square review
12 October: No NLNG Literature Prize winner | John Irving profile | Dirda on The Tin Drum | German Book Prize announced today
13 October: Du stirbst nicht takes German Book Prize | P.D. James and Ruth Rendell on TV adaptations | Dialect poetry in translation | Quantum Leaps review
14 October: Frankfurt Book Fair | Mircea Cărtărescu on Herta Müller | KD Wolff follow-up | Clockroot Books
15 October: (American) National Book Awards finalists | Falter book supplement | Honey in his Mouth review
16 October: On Dambudzo Marechera | The Dark Side of Love review | Supermarket review ... | ... and the JLPP
17 October: Retrieving 'lost' classics ? | Stephen Marche on e-readers | Wal-Mart v. Amazon | Contra el viento takes Premio Planeta | Prieto on The Halfway House | Craig Raine profile | The Writer as Migrant review
18 October: The Tanenhaus defense ? | NLNG Literature Prize non-Award fallout | Philip Roth profile
19 October: Claudio Magris picks up Peace Prize of the German Book Trade | Htilar Sitthu (1932-2009) | Monsieur Pain review
20 October: The Beirut39 | Alasdair Gray interview | José Saramago's Caim

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20 October 2009 - Tuesday

The Beirut39 | Alasdair Gray interview | José Saramago's Caim

       The Beirut39

       They've announced the 39 Beirut39 authors.
       The only one of the authors under review at the complete review is Faiza Guene, with Just Like Tomorrow (Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow).

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

       Alasdair Gray interview

       At The Rumpus Ari Messer interviews the great Alasdair Gray.

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

       José Saramago's Caim

       José Saramago's introduced his new book on Monday -- another of his biblical re-tellings, this time the story of Cain, Caim -- and he certainly knows how to get attention. As the AFP report has it: Nobel winner slams Bible as 'handbook of bad morals'.
       One has to hand it to him: he really knows how to pack as much offense into just a few sentences as one could wish for:
Saramago attacked "a cruel, jealous and unbearable God (who) exists only in our heads" and said he did not think his book would cause problems for the Catholic Church "because Catholics do not read the Bible.

"It might offend Jews, but that doesn't really matter to me," he added.
       No doubt that it's already flying off the bookstore shelves; no word as to when the English translation will be available.

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

19 October 2009 - Monday

Claudio Magris picks up Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
Htilar Sitthu (1932-2009) | Monsieur Pain review

       Claudio Magris picks up Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

       They held the ceremony where Claudio Magris got to pick up the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade he's been awarded yesterday.
       The German papers have lots of coverage, and DeutscheWelle reports Italian Claudio Magris receives Peace Prize of German Book Trade, but I haven't seen the speech (or the laudatio) printed anywhere yet; the (German) excerpts at the Schwäbische Zeitung appear to be the most extensive on offer.

       (Updated - 20 October): A reader points me to the Italian text at Corriere della Sera.

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

       Htilar Sitthu (1932-2009)

       In The Myanmar Times Khine Thazin Aung reports that Poet Htilar Sitthu dies of liver cancer, aged 78.

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

       Monsieur Pain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roberto Bolaño's Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions in January.
       Early Bolaño, and quite fascinating.

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

18 October 2009 - Sunday

The Tanenhaus defense ? | NLNG Literature Prize non-Award fallout
Philip Roth profile

       The Tanenhaus defense ?

       It's hard not to see Liesl Schillinger as Sam Tanenhaus' teacher's pet -- and front (wo)man -- this week: he oversees two sections of the Sunday issue of The New York Times -- the 'Week in Review' and The New York Times Book Review -- and she has both the cover review in the NYTBR and a front-page piece in the 'Week in Review'.
       In the 'Week in Review' Schillinger makes the case that American Literature: Words Without Borders, and it's hard not to see that as a not very veiled defense of the NYTBR practice of neglecting writing (fiction in this case, though the exclusionary principle applies to non as well) in translation -- i.e. of Tanenhaus' policy of dealing with as little of it as possible. I have no idea whether or not he put her up to it, but it certainly proves very self-serving (and since he's the man in charge ...).
       Impressed by the admittedly impressive international scope of this year's (American) National Book Awards finalists, Schillinger wonders:
To refine the question: how can our literary tastes be "isolated" and "insular" when they can be assimilated and imitated so successfully? And what does it mean to write an "American" book, if you don't need an American address to do it?

The judges of the National Book Awards tacitly suggest a heartening response: the American idea not only translates, it disregards national boundaries. To qualify for the award, a writer must have American citizenship but can carry other passports, too.
       Fair enough -- and a good and fun point to make. But disregard only goes so far -- and doesn't extend to translation, as Schillinger makes clear. She notes:
It's true that the work of some writers does not thrive when it's plucked from its surrounding soil. Any open-minded critic who regularly receives offerings of new books or translations from Europe, the Middle East or Asia knows the bitter experience of opening a book by an unknown foreign author with anticipation, only to cast it away in irritation or boredom, finding it impossible to engage with a novel that was esteemed in a distant land.
       Apparently the 'open-minded critics' (and editors) at the NYTBR -- wait ! let me catch my breath from laughing so hard at the very thought ! -- suffer this bitter experience with particular and almost alarming frequency. And hence, in this week's issue, not a single work in translation is reviewed.
       Last week's issue ? No works in translation.
       The issue from the week before ? Nada.
       The issue from the week before ? No -- no, wait ! wait ! look there ! in Marilyn Stasio's Crime round-up, almost 150 words are devoted to a book by Arnaldur Indridason (translated from the Icelandic -- maybe we should give bonus points for coverage of a book from such a not widely spoken language ?).
       One month worth of coverage, and one book in translation discussed (in all of 150 words ...). Yes, America's 'words without borders' -- at least according to Tanenhaus' NYTBR (and now his 'Week in Review' ...) -- may be global in reach yet still don't have much room for anything so foreign that it needs translating .....

       [I do note that things (briefly ?) look up a bit next week (though that may very well be it for the rest of the fall, at Tanenhaus' rate ...): three works in translation are scheduled for review, including Jan Kjærstad's The Discoverer and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's (yes, Tanenhaus does prefer the translated writers reviewed in the NYTBR to be dead if at all possible; apparently death makes them more palatable) Memories of the Future, just out from New York Review Books Classics (see their publicity page, or get your copy from or -- a volume that I haven't seen but bears a bit too much resemblance to the already available Seven Stories for my taste (not that any additional Krzhizhanovsky is ever unwelcome -- "Here a natural storyteller, striking intellect, and deeply creative soul are found all in one -- a rare combination" as I wrote about him (and am quoted at the NYRB site) -- but it just appears that there's not enough additional (i.e. not already found in the Seven Stories collection) Krzhizhanovsky in this volume ...)).]

       (Updated - 21 October): See also Scott Esposito's post at Conversational Reading.

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

       NLNG Literature Prize non-Award fallout

       I've mentioned this year's Nigerian NLNG Literature Prize non-Award fiasco, and Next continues to fan the flames with lots of fun articles.
       Among them now are Molara Wood's call that it's Time to dismantle this sham literature prize, noting that:
And what is the dividend of a literary prize (NLNG's petty cash, really) dispensed by an energy company hard at work in the Niger Delta? It is that you buy the silence of the class of society most likely to criticise you. Let us come out and say it: the NLNG's Literature prize is hush money. Let the NLNG acknowledge it and let the writers acknowledge it -- and let's move on.
As for the prize, it is a shambolic endeavour that has lost all credibility and should be dismantled.
       Meanwhile Amatoritsero Ede denounces it as A Prize for Dunces?
       It will be interesting to see whether anything comes of all this criticism -- but the discussions certainly can't hurt.

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

       Philip Roth profile

       In The Times Erica Wagner has a long profile of Philip Roth.
       The occasion is the publication of his new novel, The Humbling (get your copy at or -- which I hope to review as soon as I can get my hands on a copy .....

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

17 October 2009 - Saturday

Retrieving 'lost' classics ? | Stephen Marche on e-readers | Wal-Mart v. Amazon
Contra el viento takes Premio Planeta | Prieto on The Halfway House
Craig Raine profile | The Writer as Migrant review

       Retrieving 'lost' classics ?

       The Times devotes several pieces to a UK look at 'lost classics', as Adam Sherwin writes: Authors to dust off "lost" literary classics for airing on Radio 4, they list The ten neglected novels by the authors -- and Erica Wagner notes the that Internet offers no excuse for us to neglect the classics.

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

       Stephen Marche on e-readers

       In The Book That Contains All Books in the Wall Street Journal Stephen Marche writes that:
On Monday, the Kindle 2 will become the first e-reader available globally. The only other events as important to the history of the book are the birth of print and the shift from the scroll to bound pages. The e-reader, now widely available, will likely change our thinking and our being as profoundly as the two previous pre-digital manifestations of text. The question is how. And the answer can be found in the history of earlier book forms.
       I don't think the Kindle (2 or whatever) is available globally yet, and even when it is I have my doubts that it will be the standard-bearer of e-readers (unless they make a lot of improvements to it by then), but Marche is probably right that the e-reader marks a whole new (and inevitable) stage.

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

       Wal-Mart v. Amazon

       Wal-Mart is taking on Amazon with deep, deep discounting of bestselling books and, as for example Motoko Rich reports in The New York Times, Price War Over Books Worries Industry (though of course this is such a jittery industry that everything worries it):
A tit-for-tat price war between Wal-Mart and Amazon accelerated late on Friday afternoon when Wal-Mart shaved another cent off its already rock-bottom prices for hardcover editions of some of the coming holiday season's biggest potential best sellers, offering them online for $8.99 apiece.
       Where will it end ? Well:
On Friday a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said in an e-mail message that the company would "continue to adjust our pricing so that offers the lowest prices on these top pre-sellers in books."
       Books for free, anybody ?

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

       Contra el viento takes Premio Planeta

       Contra el viento (by Angeles Caso) has taken then immensely lucrative Premio Planeta; see, for example, the AP report.
       La bailarina y el ingles (by Emilio Calderon) was the runner-up -- still worth a nice sum.

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

       Prieto on The Halfway House

       At World Books Bill Marx interviews José Manuel Prieto about Guillermo Rosales' recently translated The Halfway House.

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

       Craig Raine profile

       In The Guardian Nicholas Wroe profiles Craig Raine, the man behind the excellent tri-quarterly Areté.

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

       The Writer as Migrant review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ha Jin's Campbell Lectures from 2006, The Writer as Migrant.

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

16 October 2009 - Friday

On Dambudzo Marechera | The Dark Side of Love review
Supermarket review ... | ... and the JLPP

       On Dambudzo Marechera

       In Business Daily Memory Chirere answers some questions about Zimbabwean author Dambudzo Marechera, in the rather unkindly titled Q&A, Bizarre writer raises debate long after his death.

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

       The Dark Side of Love review

       My review of German-writing Syrian author Rafik Schami's The Dark Side of Love is now available in The National's Review-section. (See also the publicity pages at Arabia Books and Interlink, or get your copy at or

       I've mentioned The National's excellent Review-section previously, and they continue to provide some of the most interesting book coverage you'll find -- recently taking on books such as Andrey Kurkov's The Good Angel of Death (see Rachel Sugar's review). I certainly recommend checking in regularly (and not just for my own small contribution).

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

       Supermarket review ...

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Azuchi Satoshi's Supermarket, a 1981 book now available in English translation.

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

       ... and the JLPP

       As I mentioned in my review of Azuchi Satoshi's Supermarket, this 1981 title has now appeared in English translation (from St.Martin's Press) in no small part because it was: "specially selected for the Japanese Literature Publishing Project (JLPP)". [The Japanese (and English) sites won't open in my browser; the French and German ones do.]
       I like the idea behind the JLPP, providing subsidies and translation support for Japanese books to be made available in major languages, but their selection process leaves a lot to be desired. This 1981 business novel -- set in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- is terribly outdated, and while of some historical interest certainly not worthy on literary merit alone. Japan, and the Japanese business world and economy have undergone major changes since the time when the book was set, as well as the time when it was written -- and I, for one, would be far more interested in more contemporary works that gave some insight into current or recent conditions.
       It's not like these old-fashioned types of 'business novels' are unknown in the US -- but everyone sensibly stopped translating them a while back (presumably in part because they weren't selling ...). Indeed, one of Azuchi's other novels was previously translated: in 1991, the University of California Press brought out 'A Tale of Corporate Japan' by Azuchi (writing under his real name, Arai Shinya), Shoshaman (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or -- a point in time when it still made considerably more sense to publish something like this in English. Now, eighteen years later, who still needs a book like Supermarket ?
       Mind you, I'm glad it's available -- glad even that I read it (so you don't have to...) -- but given how little is translated from the Japanese I would have hoped that something more relevant would have been made available. A fair number of books published with JLPP help are under review at the complete review, and it really is ... not a great selection. Many of these titles -- even older ones -- are worthwhile, but priorities are definitely very confused here.

       Note that not everyone agrees: in her review of Supermarket at Words without Borders (one of the few English-language reviews of this book ...) Juliet Grames also mentions the JLPP-role, and thinks:
Supermarket was a well-chosen candidate for this initiative, since it is a novel that will be of certain entertainment to a fairly wide readership: anyone with retail experience as well as enthusiasts of Japanese literature and culture.
       I don't quite see it that way -- though admittedly literary enthusiasts may be amused by one of the few examples of this 'business novel' genre available in English (they certainly won't be impressed by the writing), and culture enthusiasts will also find enough to have fun with.
       (Note, however, that Grames also incorrectly claims: "Supermarket seems to be a one-hit wonder for Azuchi, whose only other writing has been nonfiction on corporate management"; as I noted, one of his other novels has even been translated into English .....)

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

15 October 2009 - Thursday

(American) National Book Awards finalists | Falter book supplement
Honey in his Mouth review

       (American) National Book Awards finalists

       They've announced the (American) National Book Awards finalists; not all too surprisingly not a one of the titles is under review at the complete review.
       They give some of the statistics, such as:
In 2009, 193 publishers submitted 1,129 books for the 2009 National Book Awards.
       Unfortunately -- and inexplicably -- they decline to list all of them.
       But at least they do offer a breakdown of the categories:
Fiction, 236
Nonfiction, 481
Poetry, 161
Young People's Lit., 251
       I'm baffled by the fact that more kids' lit titles were submitted than adult fiction -- and that twice as many non-fiction titles were submitted than fiction titles.

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

       Falter book supplement

       Around Frankfurt Book Fair time many of the German-language publications offer special book supplements and additional literary coverage; as usual one of the most impressive is the one at the Austrian newsprint weekly, the Falter. Over a hundred (!) titles under review, including several not-yet-translated into German as well as everything from the new Herta Müller to the new German Book Prize winning novel, and Richard Powers' Generosity (yes, available in German translation months before the UK edition comes out ...). Lots of Chinese and China-related titles, too, of course -- all in all also offering a good overview of the fall season offerings from German publishers. (Among the odd trends that become apparent: a lot of books retain their (or use an) English title even in translation, such as Alex Ross' The Rest is Noise.)
       Pretty awesome for a small-circulation weekly -- where are the equivalent US and UK publications that offer something like this ? (They actually do this semi-annually -- and the weekly book review section is nothing to sneeze at either.)

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

       Honey in his Mouth review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lester Dent's Honey in his Mouth.
       'Doc Savage'-author Dent wrote this back in the 1950s, but it's never been previously published -- a neat little find for Hard Case Crime, who have now brought it out.

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

14 October 2009 - Wednesday

Frankfurt Book Fair | Mircea Cărtărescu on Herta Müller
KD Wolff follow-up | Clockroot Books

       Frankfurt Book Fair

       The Frankfurt Book Fair runs from today through the 18th. I'm happy to keep my distance, but look forward to the extensive coverage that will, surely, be appearing elsewhere; Publishing Perspectives looks to be one of the sites on top of a lot of the action there.
       Introductory coverage includes China spreads the word at Frankfurt fair by Kathrin Hille at the Financial Times, Frankfurt opens a new chapter by Mu Qian at China Daily, and Little-known Chinese literature takes spotlight at Frankfurt Book Fair by Chi Viet Giang at DeutscheWelle -- who reports:
Hoffmann said he isn't necessarily expecting a boom in Chinese literature as a result of the fair.

"I recently spoke to a publisher who has published China-related books over the past 10 to 15 years; he complained that in the past 20 years no-one had been interested in them," said Hoffmann. "Neither the press nor anyone else had noticed them. But now all of a sudden everyone is talking about it and interested.

"I am afraid that when the book fair is over the interest in Chinese literature will also be over."

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

       Mircea Cărtărescu on Herta Müller translated Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu's Ode to Herta Müller (originally published in German in the Frankfurter Rundschau).
       A nice tribute to the new Nobel laureate, in which he finds:
Her aspiration to purity, moral included, is like an inner sword, it's as if she had a a sword instead of a spine, as in one of Kafka's dreams.
The writings of Herta Müller are indeed the product of an intense obsession, a unique, paranoid terror of being followed, held in suspicion, persecuted, of having to fight a pervasive and incomprehensible enemy, which is bent on defacing and and misrepresenting her. Her writing is Kafkaesque.

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

       KD Wolff follow-up

       Publishing Perspectives translate (second item) the Boersenblatt report that:
Edward M. Alford, the US Consul General in Germany, has personally apologized to Stroemfeld Verlag, publisher of author KD Wolff, who was refused entry into the US earlier this month. The incident made headlines when US authorities turned Wolff away upon his arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City
       I mentioned how Wolff was denied entry to the US when it happened. While it received some attention -- the obligatory PEN American Center letter of protest and the like -- as best I can tell no American daily newspaper made even a mention of the incident.
       Am I missing something here ? Shouldn't such cases of ideological exclusion be ... news ? Or have Americans just come to accept that it's better just to keep anyone who might be considered suspect (of whatever ...) out of the country, few questions asked ?
       I don't know what I find more shocking: that the Americans authorities sent Wolff packing, or that nobody seems to care.

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

       Clockroot Books

       Interlink has a new imprint, Clockroot Books, and what they're doing looks pretty promising.
       Okay, I wasn't a huge fan of one of the titles they're reprinting (the only one under review at the complete review), Margarita Karapanou's Kassandra and the Wolf, but I still think they're on the right track.

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

13 October 2009 - Tuesday

Du stirbst nicht takes German Book Prize
P.D. James and Ruth Rendell on TV adaptations
Dialect poetry in translation | Quantum Leaps review

       Du stirbst nicht takes German Book Prize

       They've announced that Du stirbst nicht, by Kathrin Schmidt, has been awarded this year's German Book Prize -- a small upset since newly minted Nobel laureate Herta Müller was also in the running, with her Atemschaukel. (Get your copy of Du stirbst nicht at

       (Updated - 14 October): See now also German Book Prize winner dissects personal struggle with illness at DeutscheWelle and Kathrin Schmidt Beats Nobel Winner to Capture German Book Prize at Bloomberg.

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

       P.D. James and Ruth Rendell on TV adaptations

       In The Times Jack Malvern reports that P.D James and Ruth Rendell reveal dislike for TV adaptions of their books, as:
P. D. James and Ruth Rendell took an instant dislike to the actors who played their fictional detectives on television because they did not resemble their vision of the characters.
The crime authors also admitted to an audience at The Times Cheltenham Festival of Literature yesterday that they did not care for the television adaptations of their books because producers took liberties with their source material
       In additional mystery-mood, The Times also offers a leader maintaining: 'The detective novel is the most paradoxical yet enduringly popular literary form', Murder Most Mystifying.

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

       Dialect poetry in translation

       At DeutscheWelle Gerhard Schneibel reports that Dialect poetry in translation connects regional cultures across Europe.

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

       Quantum Leaps review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jeremy Bernstein's Quantum Leaps.

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

12 October 2009 - Monday

No NLNG Literature Prize winner | John Irving profile
Dirda on The Tin Drum | German Book Prize announced today

       No NLNG Literature Prize winner

       The annual NLNG Literature Prize -- the Nigerian Prize for Literature -- is rotated among four genres: fiction, poetry, drama, and children's literature. This year it was the poets' turn, and although they named nine finalists from the 161 entries, and had a big gala awards night, as Akintayo Abodunrin reports in Next There is no winner for premier literary prize:
The judges' verdict was that none of the works, despite the fact that three of them had previously won poetry prizes, was good enough to be awarded the prize.
       Good for them.

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

       John Irving profile

       John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River is just about out (get your copy at or, and in New York Boris Kachka has a rather odd profile of the author.

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

       Dirda on The Tin Drum

       In The Washington Post Michael Dirda reviews the new Breon Mitchell (re-)translation of Günter Grass' classic, The Tin Drum (get your copy at or

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

       German Book Prize announced today

       The winner of the German Book Prize will be announced today (18:00 local time, 16:00 GMT, 12:00 EST) -- and everyone is wondering whether Herta Müller will win that too (for Atemschaukel). [Updated: No, Du stirbst nicht by Kathrin Schmidt has taken the prize.]
       Two previous winners of the prize are under review at the complete review: Arno Geiger's Es geht uns gut (2005) and Uwe Tellkamp's Der Turm (2008). (Neither is available in English translation yet.)
       At Deutschlandfunk Detlef Grumbach has a fascinating (German) discussion on the prize, Spagat zwischen Literatur und Kommerz, noting that Germany is overflowing with literary prizes -- some 2000 of them, though most are author- (rather than book-) prizes.
       Among the points of interest: the prize helped push sales of Der Turm to an impressive 450,000.
       There are also the Man Booker-type complaints, such as that the big publishers dominate the award: of the 100 shortlisted titles so far over the years Hanser and its subsidiaries have accounted for 20 alone, for example.
       And there is also the observation that German books need all the publicity help they can get, as Gottfried Honnefelder notes that some 2000 literary titles are translated into German from English (and 'American') annually, while only 40 are translated from German into English .....

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

11 October 2009 - Sunday

Stothard on reviewing panel | 'm-book' down under
Aldo Buzzi (1910-2009) | The Madman of Freedom Square review

       Stothard on reviewing panel

       Good to see that one of the participants in the Center for the Study of Books and Media's Round Table Discussion on Book Reviewing in Princeton on Friday has now written a report of the event, as TLS editor Peter Stothard recounts Book reviews in peril: or new trouble in Paradise at his weblog.
       Among the amusing observations:
There are one or two recurring tensions. I expected that the audience would be grateful that the New York Times had maintained its book section against the odds. Instead, the excellent Sam Tanenhaus had to defend himself strongly for allowing Dan Brown in to his pages and not reviewing enough foreign books.
       I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who is disappointed in the NYTBR's (lack of) foreign coverage -- and, of course, this probably wasn't the best week for Tanenhaus to defend what he does (or doesn't ?) at the NYTBR, what with a review of the new (well, no longer so new ...) Dan Brown as the cover-review in today's issue -- and not a single translated title covered in its pages. Of course, when would be a good week ? Last week's issue (4 October): not a single translated work under review. Next week's issue ? Unless they slip something in one of their brief-review round-ups: not a single work in translation will be under review. Anyone see a pattern ? Of course: we've all seen and long decried the same damn pattern.
       It's kind of Mr. Stothard to defend his colleague -- though I have to wonder whether he is aware of just how much the NYTBR has ignored works in translation under Tanenhaus' tenure (i.e.: essentially completely) -- after years in which works by even such obscure foreigners as the person now known in the US as 'Herta who?' were regularly reviewed (see my previous mention) .....
       Admirably, the TLS does cover works originally written in foreign languages (even those not yet translated into English ...) consistently, and has a much broader foreign reach, as the impressive numbers Stothard offers up show:
But the same TLS statisticians had shown me that 229 of our 394 fiction reviews were of books by non-British authors, 65 of them American, 29 French, 14 Spanish, 12 German, 10 Russian and a decent sprinking from Angola, Bosnia, Brazil, Ghan, Tunisia and Vietnam. Almost 40 per cent of our poetry reviews were of books by writers outside Britain This is a very conscious editorial policy at the TLS. I was pleased but not surprised by the numbers. The Princeton audience were both pleased and surprised.
       (I am not surprised: that policy is one reason I shell out the obscene $169.00 annual subscription fee for the TLS, while Sam Tanenhaus' editorial (mis)direction is a major reason why I no longer purchase a copy of the Sunday issue of The New York Times (the recent rate hike being the other major reason I do without).)

       I look forward to other reports, from panelists and audience members.

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

       'm-book' down under

       In Once upon a mobile phone ... in The Age Jane Sullivan talks with Marieke Hardy, who has written: 'what she believes is Australia's first m-fiction: a story sent out in episodes to mobile phones'.

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

       Aldo Buzzi (1910-2009)

       At his House of Mirth James Marcus -- who has translated some of his work -- reports that Aldo Buzzi has passed away.
       See also, for example, Alessandra Iadicicco's Aldo Buzzi, è morto a 99 anni il più giovane dei nostri autori at il Giornale.

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

       The Madman of Freedom Square review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iraqi author Hassan Blasim's collection of stories, The Madman of Freedom Square.

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

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