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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 30 September 2012

21 September: The Economist Crossword Book Award shortlists | Literary festivals: le festival AMERICA© - Форум видавців | Lazarus is Dead review
22 September: Herbert Rosendorfer (1934-2012) | Nuruddin Farah profile | Bellos on Life A User's Manual | Unusual second-hand translation
23 September: Murray Bail's The Voyage | Japanese books off Chinese shelves | The Scientific Buddha review
24 September: Al-Mutanabbi Street bulldozed | Korea and the Nobel Prize | Indian writing in translation
25 September: Neustadt Festival of International Literature | Profiles: Peter Stothard - Salwa Bakr | The Rehearsal review
26 September: Postmodernism in ... Burma | Suing over advances | The Cardboard House review
27 September: Göteborg Book Fair 2012 | Man Booker Internationall Prize finalists to be announced in January | New: Review of Contemporary Fiction - New Books in German
28 September: Book embargo (attempts) | Jerzy Pilch advice | Kristín Ómarsdóttir Q & A | Apocalypse Hotel review
29 September: S.E.A. Write Award | Vladimir Voinovich Q & A | Christopher J. Koch profile
30 September: Daniel Stein, Interpreter wins Park Kyung-ni literary prize | More on Patrick White | Jan Morris profile | More about Nordic crime writing | Murder in Memoriam review

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30 September 2012 - Sunday

Daniel Stein, Interpreter wins Park Kyung-ni literary prize | More on Patrick White
Jan Morris profile | More about Nordic crime writing
Murder in Memoriam review

       Daniel Stein, Interpreter wins Park Kyung-ni literary prize

       They've awarded the second 박경리 문학상 and, as RT reports, Russian author of Holocaust novel scoops global literary award, as:
Russian author Ludmila Ulitskaya won the Park Kyung-ni literary prize for her book Daniel Stein, Interpreter. Contenders for the Korean award included British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, and American author and activist Alice Walker.
       They're trying to make this the big international Korean literary prize, but it looks like it'll still be a while before it is taken seriously enough to break into the ranks.

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

       More on Patrick White

       Via I am pointed to The Quietus' piece Homelands: Patrick White - A Personal Odyssey, where: 'In the centenary year of the celebrated Australian author's birth, Barnaby Smith asks how it is that this giant of literature has all but disappeared from the nation's cultural consciousness'
       How indeed ?
       As longtime readers know -- and as is obvious from the reviews of much of White's work at the complete review -- I am a big fan, and consistently baffled that he isn't more widely read (and the books more widely available -- though a drip of re-issues has slightly improved that situation).
       Smith's piece certainly isn't reassuring
It has been a long time since White was a common inclusion on any university curriculum; but more serious is his lack of influence across wider culture. Worryingly, a high school English teacher friend told me she had never heard of him, while another, a literature post-grad with theses on Australian literature behind him and a book critic, has never read White
       Depressing, too:
The other telling thing is that at the many talks and lectures the State Library have put on to mark White's birth, the average age of attendees must be somewhere between 60 and 70. And, if several overheard conversations are anything to go by, some of them appear to be interested because they remember him as a curious public figure in the 80s rather than an author.
       All this despite (or perhaps because of ?) the fact that, as Smith nicely points out:
In some ways, each of White's books is an exhortation for each Australian to explore his or her inner space and rise above the complacency and philistinism he saw so acutely: their morality, their motivations, their intentions and their context.
       I still hold out hope that this is all just a temporary thing and that everyone will come to their senses and embrace and revere White's work as they properly should.

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

       Jan Morris profile

       In The Scotsman Susan Mansfield profiles Jan Morris, travel writer -- though, of course s/he's more than that, as: "James became Jan in 1972, Britain's first high-profile gender reassignment case". Either way, s/he's a fine writer; I've read a few (though none are under review at the complete review), and they're quite good.

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

       More about Nordic crime writing

       Yet another piece about Nordic crime writers: The truth behind Inspector Norse, as: 'Christian House asks five of Denmark's leading crime writers about murders, motives and the unique appeal of Nordic noir' in the Independent on Sunday.

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

       Murder in Memoriam review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Didier Daeninckx's Murder in Memoriam.
       This has been out in a Serpent's Tail edition for a while, but now Melville House is bringing out a US edition (and following up with A Very Profitable War in January, which I also look forward to).

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

29 September 2012 - Saturday

S.E.A. Write Award | Vladimir Voinovich Q & A | Christopher J. Koch profile

       S.E.A. Write Award

       The Southeast Asian Writers Awards have announced that คนแคระ ('The Dwarf') by Vipas Srithong (วิภาส ศรีทอง) has won the Thai prize.
       That home page has the information, as well as a brief Q & A with the author; see also the Bangkok Post report, Vipas wins SEA Write Award.
       The Bangkok Post also has a brief look at all the shortlisted authors, and Q & As with them here.
       At least all this offers some insight into the Thai literary scene -- far too little of which makes it into English.

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

       Vladimir Voinovich Q & A

       Via literalab I see that at The Atlantic Yury Vasilyev has a Q & A with the Russian author, The Post-Soviet Optimistic Pessimism of Vladimir Voinovich.
       The satirist is amazed how things have turned out in contemporary Russia:
But the stupidity and vulgarity that are becoming the banner of our times -- no one could have expected that. The most idiotic laws are passed, the most monstrous trials are going on. Take the notorious Pussy Riot case. That exceeded everything that could be written in satire.
       The only Voinovich title under review at the complete review is his Monumental Propaganda.

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

       Christopher J. Koch profile

       In The Australian Stephen Romei profiles Christopher Koch, in The double man.
       Koch has a new novel out (in Australia), Lost Voices -- but remains best know for The Year of Living Dangerously, because of the film .....
       He reveals:
I staked everything on The Year of Living Dangerously. I put a hell of a lot into it and I got a lot of enjoyment out of writing it. And in the end it was the book that saved me from sinking into obscurity. So, I'll never put it down. I just get a bit sick of the film being lumped in all the time.
       It is a very good book, too -- get your copy at (can it really be that it's out of print int the UK ?).

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

28 September 2012 - Friday

Book embargo (attempts) | Jerzy Pilch advice
Kristín Ómarsdóttir Q & A | Apocalypse Hotel review

       Book embargo (attempts)

       In The Washington Post Neely Tucker tries to explain Why the embargo on Rowling's 'Casual Vacancy' didn't hold, as the latest Harry Potter-book was apparently embargoed but not entirely successfully. (One possible reason for the embargo ? Apparently not a single character from the previous Harry Potter books appears in it, which presumably would be rather disappointing to fans, if they heard about that beforehand.)
       As Matthew Bell reported in The Independent a few days ago, in J K Rowling and the Publishers' Moan:
My colleague, Katy Guest, our literary editor, was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement before her reviewer could be "hand-delivered" a copy of the book. Embargoes are normal, but within the legalese, Guest found a clause stating that even the existence of the agreement could not be mentioned. A sort of publishing superinjunction.
       I would take issue with the idea that embargoes are in any way 'normal', but at least The Independent did the only thing they could and should: tossed the agreement, unsigned.
       I assume embargoes are a sort of publisher-swagger -- an attempt by them to demonstrate that they still have power over all the little folk (reviewers, booksellers, and, at the very bottom of the ladder, readers). As with many things publishers do, I don't think it serves anyone's purpose -- least of all their own. But given how weakened they are you can see why they want to pull desperate crap like this. I'm just disappointed that so many outlets went along with it -- even The New York Times toed the line (I guess they couldn't find a copy at the local drugstore, as they usually manage to do).
       (Of course embargoes are the least of my worries: I'm so out of the loop that I have a hard time getting most books I ask for from 'major' publishers (minor exceptions notwithstanding), and obviously no one even offered to offer me The Casual Vacancy (good call, guys).)
       If, for some reason, you are interested in the Rowling book, you can get your copy at or; it seems to be doing quite well (sales-wise).

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

       Jerzy Pilch advice

       Salon (Slovakia) reports on a recent article by Polish author Jerzy Pilch (His Current Woman, etc.), offering "five warnings to would-be diarists", in Visegrad Mirror: The Poles Are Always Prepared !. (The Pilch piece originally appeared in Tygodnik Powszechny, but I can't find it online.)
       The: "inspiration for his Five Cardinal Sins of a Diary Writer came from Günter Grass's Tagebuch 1990 (1990 Diary)" -- which is coming out in November from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as From Germany to Germany: Diary 1990; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from or (I have a copy, and hope to get to it before publication day).

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

       Kristín Ómarsdóttir Q & A

       At The Rumpus Padma Viswanathan has a Q & A with Children in Reindeer Woods-author Kristín Ómarsdóttir.

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

       Apocalypse Hotel review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hồ Anh Thái's Apocalypse Hotel -- a rare contemporary (well, decade-old) Vietnamese novel made available in English.

       A few observations about this book:
  • It's the first (and so far only ...) volume in Texas Tech University Press' new Modern Southeast Asian Literature-series; I hope many more will follow: as I often note and complain: this is an area that is woefully under-represented in English translation

  • The novel was "adapted" by Wayne Carlin -- they admit that much, but not any more: there is an Introduction by Karlin, but he doesn't reveal exactly how he butchered adapted the text

  • Wayne Carlin, who "adapted" the book, was not the one who translated it -- that was Jonathan R.S. McIntyre

  • The cover features the name of the author, and notes that the book is "adapted and introduced by Wayne Karlin" -- but makes no mention of a translator
       I find much of this disturbing, but given that I am on the fanatical end of the translation spectrum (strict literalism, please ...) generally try to bite my tongue on these matters (though that footprint on the much-stomped-on cover of my copy of the book might give some indication of how I feel about these things ...); but regardless of how a text is mauled, surely it's only good form to put the translator's name on the cover, especially if you put the name of the person who "adapted" it there ..... (Of course, Karlin may be a name that carries considerably more clout in the Vietnamese-literature-field -- though I do hope this all doesn't have anything to do with the fact that he also happens to be the 'series editor' of this new series .....)

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

27 September 2012 - Thursday

Göteborg Book Fair 2012 | Man Booker Int'l Prize finalists to be announced in January
New: Review of Contemporary Fiction - New Books in German

       Göteborg Book Fair 2012

       The Göteborg Book Fair starts today and runs through the 30th; aside from the usual fair-activity there should be some decent Nobel Prize gossiping going on (among the many participants is the Nobel-deciding Svenska Akademien (with head Nobel-man Peter Englund in attendance)).
       I'm not sure about some of what's on offer -- The Nordic stand seethes with activity ! -- but I look forward to hearing some reports.

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

       Man Booker International Prize finalists to be announced in January

       They've announced that the finalists for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize will be announced 24 January, at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival.
       The winner of this biennial Nobel-wannabe prize will be announced 22 May, in London.

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

       New: Review of Contemporary Fiction

       The new (well, Spring/2012 -- but new online) issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction is now available, and while the Robert Coover Festschrift-content isn't freely accessible, all the reviews (and there is a nice heap of them) are -- scroll down.

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

       New: New Books in German

       As love german books points out, the new issue of New Books in German is now available online.
       Lots of reviews/overviews of new German books (scroll down and click on covers, or use the reviews page), which is always interesting -- and they offer translation samples of (and information about) the six finalist for the German Book Prize here too.
       Also of interest: a 'Publisher focus', where Meike Ziervogel, publisher of Peirene Press, talks to NBG (see also Peirene Press itself if you're not familiar with it -- they're doing some great stuff, and one has to admire their innovative approach).
       And there's also a Q & A in a 'Translator focus', as NBG interviews the translator Martin Chalmers.
       Among his responses:
Which book would you still like to translate ?

There are so many which should be translated or retranslated. For example, the 1930ís translation of Döblin's Berlin, Alexanderplatz is dated and unreliable and it's astonishing that no new translation has appeared.
       (That would be Eugène Jolas' translation; I'm amazed there isn't a more recent one.)
       And Chalmers also offers this very sad but very good piece of advice:
And the translator has to be prepared for disappointment, when the English-speaking literary world ignores the masterpiece they spent a year working on.

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

26 September 2012 - Wednesday

Postmodernism in ... Burma | Suing over advances
The Cardboard House review

       Postmodernism in ... Burma

       In Writers examine uncertainty of truth in The Myanmar Times they talk to a couple of Burmese authors of, to varying degrees, a postmodern bent, such as Thit Sar Ni.
       Another author, Min Khite Soe San, suggests:
"In our country, the decline in human values occurred in a different way. It was caused by years of living under a dictatorship," he said. "This system has inflicted a lot of pain on us, and that has produced writers who have a strong affinity for postmodernism."

Min Khite Soe San invoked the metaphor of the rhizome to represent the character of postmodernism.

"The roots and stems spread in different directions under the ground. We are unable to trace where the root starts and ends, and every branch is part of the main. The rhizome grows in many directions, and I think this is a good way to portray society in the age of postmodernism," he said.
       Meanwhile writer and blogger Nay Phone Latt explains:
"Readers [of realist novels] feel happy if the story has a happy ending, or they feel sad if the story has a sad ending. For me, this curtails the reader's right to enjoy freedom of thought and feeling. It's likely that I enjoy postmodernism because it allows me to think and feel more freely when I read these stories."
       Now if only some of this stuff was available in English translation .....

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

       Suing over advances

       The Smoking Gun reports that Book Publisher Goes To Court To Recoup Hefty Advances From Prominent Writers, as Penguin is suing a dozen of its authors for the return of advances for books that have not been delivered.
       As they note:
The Penguin Group's New York State Supreme Court breach of contract/unjust enrichment complaints include copies of book contracts signed by the respective defendants.
       And you can find those complaints fairly easily via the NY State 'Supreme Court Records On-Line Library' -- which you can access via this page; type in 'Penguin Group' under 'plaintiff search'. (I find the contracts -- Exhibit A in the paperwork -- fascinating; they also include brief descriptions of the unwritten work (and I have to wonder whether we all shouldn't just chip in and cover the $10,000 (well, plus interest ...) that preserved us from Deborah Branscum's Stuffola, the book (see her official site ...)).)
       The most interesting case is probably that of Lucy Siegle, who got a $100,000 contract (! -- though they only forked over/are suing for the $35,000 advance) for To Die For -- a book she never delivered to them (so the complaint) but which does, in fact exist, and was published by Fourth Estate (a HarperCollins imprint ...) in the UK (for which Penguin did not get the rights in this contract) -- get your copy at So what the hell happened there ? (They terminated the agreement upon non-delivery in February 2009 is part of the story -- they apparently weren't as patient as Fourth Estate -- but still .....)
       Suing an author is a pretty desperate act -- publishers usually try to resolve these things ... well, if not amicably, at least without involving (too many) lawyers -- but the sums here probably (just) make it worthwhile (though several of these are in the $20,000 range (and the Branscum is a piddling 10K), which I would have figured to be close to the figure where you just write it off as a loss (and blacklist the author) if you have a Penguin-sized turnover). On the other hand, I'm actually a bit surprised there aren't more authors for them to go after (presumably they settled a lot of other claims with authors, for fifty cents on the dollar or whatever they could wring out of them).
       A quick SCROLL search also finds surprisingly few other NY-based publishers taking this approach ... for now.

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

       The Cardboard House review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martín Adán's 1928 The Cardboard House in a new edition from New Directions, for which Katherine Silver has revised her 1990 translation.

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

25 September 2012 - Tuesday

Neustadt Festival of International Literature
Profiles: Peter Stothard - Salwa Bakr | The Rehearsal review

       Neustadt Festival of International Literature

       The Neustadt Festival of International Literature and Culture starts today -- there's an official site,, but last I tried it it wouldn't open; I hope that's fixed by the time you read this.
       2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature laureate Rohinton Mistry will be picking up his prize, but there's a whole lot more to it.
       See also Westlee Parsons' OU to host international literature festival this week in The Oklahoma Daily.

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

       Profile: Peter Stothard

       In The bionic book worm in The Independent Nick Clark profiles Times Literary Supplement editor and 2012 Man Booker Prize chair of judges Peter Stothard.
       The saddest sentence, about judging the Man Booker:
"It was hard work. In a normal year, you might read 20 novels. So to read 145 in seven months is an unnatural act," he says. "But it's an important unnatural act because in a way literary criticism is an unnatural act. It is work, a technique, a skill."
       Twenty novels in a normal ... year ? That's what the editor of a major book review publication thinks ? Sure, I doubt the clearly fiction-averse Sam Tanenhaus manages that many, but I had higher hopes regarding Stothard. (I don't know what 'you' Stothard is talking about, but if I don't read twenty novels a month I have excruciating withdrawal symptoms.)
       He'll probably also get some flak for this -- even though he also notes that: ""It is wonderful that there are so many blogs and websites devoted to books" --:
The rise of blogging has proved particularly worrying, he says. "Eventually that will be to the detriment of literature. It will be bad for readers; as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others. It just ain't so. People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we'll be worse off. There are some important issues here."
       I note that many print publications have encouraged people to buy and read crap for centuries -- and that in the case of weblogs and many book-review sites it is actually easier to tell whether the reviewer(s) share(s) the taste of the (prospective) reader: for example, with my reviews all conveniently collected here, readers can easily check my opinion of books they have also read and see whether I'm on their wavelength (and hence possibly trustworthy, in this regard) or not.

       (Updated - 26 September): And, yes, no surprise as to the fallout from Stothard's comments re. blogging: as the rather sensational headline for the Alison Flood piece in The Guardian has it, this was widely interpreted as Books bloggers are harming literature, warns Booker prize head judge .....
       And, of course, there were lots of blog responses, too:
       (Updated - 27 September): And the flood of reactions and responses continues:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Profile: Salwa Bakr

       At Claudia Mende profiles Egyptian author Salwa Bakr, in The Voice of the Marginalized.
       Interesting that:
She has already won numerous international accolades for her novels, short stories and narratives; in Germany, for example, the Deutsche Welle Prize for Literature in 1993. Yet she has not received a single award in Egypt.
       Hence her complaint:
"Here in Egypt, literary prizes are awarded to male artists who also enjoy good relations with the government. If I publish a book however, I earn very little. In my view, this is also a kind of corruption," she says, clearly disgusted.
       Certainly one hopes that is one of the things that will change now.
       None of her work is under review at the complete review, but I do have a couple of her novels and expect to get to them -- probably The Golden Chariot first (see also the American University in Cairo Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       The Rehearsal review

       With New Zealand the guest of honour at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair -- see their official site -- I continue to seek out works by New Zealand authors, but, damn, they're hard to find around here.
       Nevertheless, the most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eleanor Catton's The Rehearsal.
       I'll certainly be on the lookout for her next (not yet published, but apparently to be called The Luminaries).
       And I also really like the fact that The Rehearsal was originally published by ... Victoria University Press.

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

24 September 2012 - Monday

Al-Mutanabbi Street bulldozed | Korea and the Nobel Prize | Indian writing in translation

       Al-Mutanabbi Street bulldozed

       As Arabic Literature (in English) reports, Al-Mutanabbi Street Bookstalls Bulldozed, which is sad and bad news.
       See also Ali al-Saray's report in Al Monitor, Historic Baghdad Book Market Bulldozed in Late-Night Raid -- with disheartening details such as:
Al-Hayat has learned that officials in the municipality are planning to turn Mutanabi Street into an animal market like Souk al-Ghazal. Booksellers would only be permitted to work on Fridays
       And unfortunately:
Iraqi intellectuals expect an increase in pressure on civic activities in the country. They believe that under the guise of law and authority, the Iraqi government is trying to control cultural and social sectors and hubs in Baghdad.
       See also the Al Arabiya report, Book sellers in Baghdad's iconic al-Mutanabbi street under crackdown (with before-and-after video).

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

       Korea and the Nobel Prize

       Reporting on the Seoul Literary Society's latest meeting, The Korea Times explains Why Korea wants Nobel Prize for literature.
       Well, given the Swedish connection, it's natural that it came up, with I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-author Kim Young-ha suggesting the Korean Nobel-eagerness is because:
This desire is an unconscious attempt to get compensation for a tragic history of Japanese colonization, during which Koreans were banned from speaking and writing their own language, he added.
       More interesting: Kim revealing:
He said he grew up watching more North Korean channels on TV -- his town had a better reception from North Korea than from South Korea -- and that had a great deal of influence in forging his perception of North Korea. "It was like one big theatrical performance."

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

       Indian writing in translation

       Nilanjana S. Roy's collection of literary journalism, How To Read in Indian, is due out next year, but you can already check out her list of 50 Essential Writers in Translation [via].
       I've only read a dozen or so of these; three are under review at the complete review:        (And I'd love to get my hands on many more of these .....)

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

23 September 2012 - Sunday

Murray Bail's The Voyage | Japanese books off Chinese shelves
The Scientific Buddha review

       Murray Bail's The Voyage

       There's a new Murray Bail novel out -- at least in Australia. Text is bringing out The Voyage -- see their publicity page -- and while MacLehose Press has a UK edition due out in January (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from, I can't find an American edition yet.
       Peter Craven reviews it in the Sydney Morning Herald and he likes it:
The jigsaw-puzzle, collage effect of The Voyage's narrative is, in practice, ravishing. (...) The Voyage is a beautiful book, sumptuously executed for all the apparent slenderness of its narrative line.
       The review also contains one of the saddest and most irrelevant lines I've come across in any book review recently, as he writes about Bail's:
Eucalyptus, which almost became a film with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman
       As if that meant anything. (It's the book that counts, not some two-bit pseudo-stars of the day (or yesterday) who might have appeared in some screen version, had it come to that.)

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

       Japanese books off Chinese shelves

       In an apparent attempt to distract from the mess that is the ((not quite) scheduled) upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, China is egging on nationalist protests against Japan, using the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute (which, for all its apparent faults, the iPhone 5 much-maligned Maps-app, neatly resolves) as a pathetic excuse -- and that now extends to ... bookstore shelves. Yes, as the Asahi Shimbun reports, Japan-related books disappear in Beijing; Chinese demand pay hikes from Japanese employers.
       So, for example:
At Wangfujing, a well-known bookstore in central Beijing, copies of 1Q84 were removed from a shelf displaying best-sellers on Sept. 21, along with all other books by Japanese authors. An internationally renowned novelist, Murakami has long enjoyed a strong following in China.

Another large bookstore in Beijing has followed suit. All publications related to Japan or written by Japanese authors were yanked from the shelves and carted away.
       Well, at least they aren't burning them ... yet.

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

       The Scientific Buddha review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Donald S. Lopez, jr. on The Scientific Buddha: His Short and Happy Life.

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

22 September 2012 - Saturday

Herbert Rosendorfer (1934-2012) | Nuruddin Farah profile
Bellos on Life A User's Manual | Unusual second-hand translation

       Herbert Rosendorfer (1934-2012)

       German author Herbert Rosendorfer has passed away.
       Dedalus has brought out several of his works in English; see their author page, or get your copy of, for example, The Architect of Ruins at or

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

       Nuruddin Farah profile

       In The Guardian Maya Jaggi profiles Nuruddin Farah: a life in writing.

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

       Bellos on Life A User's Manual

       David Bellos translated Georges Perec's classic Life A User's Manual -- and chooses it for his contribution to The Independent's 'Book of a lifetime'-series.
       What did he see in it ?
Here, at last, was a post-Sartre storybook capable of bringing French fiction back from the brink of extinction to which Alain Robbe-Grillet had driven it.

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

       Unusual second-hand translation

       Monika Zgustová was born in then-still Czechoslovakia but has lived in Barcelona for decades, and has translated many books into Spanish and Catalan -- among them her own Grave cantabile, published in Czech in 2000, and then as La dona dels cent somriures in Catalan in 2001.
       The Feminist Press has now published an English translation, Goya's Glass -- see their publicity page, or get your copy from or -- and, yes, the translation, by Matthew Tree, is from the Catalan version.
       Sure, Zgustová is entirely responsible for the Catalan edition as well -- but it's still a second-hand translation .....

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

21 September 2012 - Friday

The Economist Crossword Book Award shortlists
Literary festivals: le festival AMERICA© - Форум видавців
Lazarus is Dead review

       The Economist Crossword Book Award shortlists

       It's been the Hutch Crossword Book Award; it's been the Vodafone Crossword Book Award; apparently this week it's The Economist Crossword Book Award (though The Economist takes no credit and makes no mention of lending their name (and, presumably, financial support) at their own site ...), and this leading Indian literary prize has now announced the shortlists for this year's prize, in English fiction, non-, and translation (they apparently also hand out an award for best kids' book, but don't (bother to ?) reveal the shortlist for that); there's also a 'popular' prize, "chosen by avid-readers".
       The site is ... not very informative (though apparently they are working on that ...), and I couldn't find the longlist data there, but fortunately IBN live listed all the longlisted titles (hurrah !) -- 137 works of fiction (dig some of those titles !), 105 of English non-, 59 children's titles ... and a mere 28 works in translation. (How is it possible that only so few works of translation were submitted/considered ? Is that really all there was last year in India ?)

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

       Literary festival: le festival AMERICA©

       I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more press (and no one told me about it), but in France they're currently holding le festival AMERICA© (what's the deal with the © ?) -- celebrating "les littératures et cultures d'Amérique du Nord" (though since apparently that doesn't quite suffice, South American countries outnumber those from the north this time around).
       Toni Morrison headlines, but there's a decent US contingent, as well as top-flight talent from elsewhere, including Sergio Ramírez (see, for example, A Thousand Deaths Plus One), or Bonsai-author Alejandro Zambra.
       I look forward to the reports -- maybe from participant Iván Thays ?

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

       Literary festival: Форум видавців

       Yet another literary festival I only hear about after the fact: in Ukraine they held Форум видавців 13 to 16 September.
       A.C. reports on it at The Economist's Eastern approaches weblog, in The rather political Lviv Book Forum, while Daryna Shevchenko reports that Bibliophiles flock to Lviv's Potocki Palace in the Kyiv Post.

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

       Lazarus is Dead review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Richard Beard's Lazarus is Dead, now also available in the US, from Europa editions.

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

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