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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 January 2016

11 January: Tom Stoppard Q & A | The Man in a Hurry review
12 January: Translations from the French, 2015 | Felâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi review
13 January: International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist | The White Review
14 January: RBC Taylor Prize finalists | Dear Reader review
15 January: Leena Krohn profile | Bookselling in 2015 in ... the US
16 January: Ann Goldstein Q & As | My Struggle in Korea | New Asymptote
17 January: Bottom's Dream -- a reality ? | DSC Prize for South Asian Literature | The Hindu Prize
18 January: 'Ambient Literature' | Arno Schmidt at 102
19 January: Michel Tournier (1925-2016) | NBCC awards finalists | Literature, the backbone of the (Icelandic) economy ? | The Doll review
20 January: Erasmus Prize | Winter list

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20 January 2016 - Wednesday

Erasmus Prize | Winter list

       Erasmus Prize

       Last year the Erasmus Prize went to ... Wikipedia, but this year they've announced that A.S.Byatt takes the honor -- though she'll only get the prize (and cash winnings of €150,000) at the awards ceremony on ... 8 December.
       The prize -- "emphasizing the importance of tolerance, cultural pluriformity and non-dogmatic critical thinking" -- has an unusual (though generally impressive) list of previous winners, from quite a variety of fields.

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

       Winter list

       The Winter 2015 issue of list - Books from Korea has apparently been up for a couple of weeks, but it took me until now to figure that out (it's found neither under 'current' nor 'back issues' ...).
       Oh Junghee is the featured author (and there's a Q & A with her by Lee Hye-kyung), but there's the usual wide variety of other material as well -- always worth a look.

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

19 January 2016 - Tuesday

Michel Tournier (1925-2016) | NBCC awards finalists
Literature, the backbone of the (Icelandic) economy ? | The Doll review

       Michel Tournier (1925-2016)

       Michel Tournier has passed away. English-language coverage of his death has been ... limited, so far, but see, for example, Raphaëlle Leyris' L’écrivain Michel Tournier est mort à l’âge de 91 ans in Le Monde.

       The only one of his books under review at the complete review is The Mirror of Ideas. A better starting point is the Goncourt-winning book called The Ogre in the US (see the Johns Hopkins University Press publicity page, or get your copy at and The Erl-King in the UK (see the Atlantic Books publicity page, or get your copy at

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

       NBCC awards finalists

       The National Book Critics Circle Announces its Finalists for Publishing Year 2015.

       Amazingly one of the (fiction) finalists is under review at the complete review -- the one work in translation, Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth.

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

       Literature, the backbone of the (Icelandic) economy ?

       At Grapevine Paul Fontaine reports that Literature Comprises 1.5% Of Iceland's GDP.
       It's not quite clear how that number is reached -- it seems an awful lot is being bunched together here -- but that would be a ridiculously huge percentage of the economy. So I hope it's right.

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

       The Doll review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bolesław Prus' 1890 novel, The Doll.

       This translation came out from Twayne in 1972, when they briefly put out a variety of classics in translation (a decent little list); Central European University Press re-issued it in 1996, when it attracted a nice bit of UK media attention; and finally New York Review Books recently (2011) re-issued it.
       A major Polish classic, it's held up better than pretty much all the work by the Nobel laureates -- Prus' near-exact contemporary Sienkiewicz, and Reymont.

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

18 January 2016 - Monday

'Ambient Literature' | Arno Schmidt at 102

       'Ambient Literature'

       As Nick Triggs reports at the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the University of the West of England, Reimagining Reading – AHRC green light for £800k Ambient Literature project, as they got a nice pile of money to research: "situated literary experiences, delivered by pervasive computing platforms, that respond to the presence of a reader to deliver story".
       Apparently there will be an online presence, launching in May, and I'm sort of curious what all this will amount to.
       In any case, impressive that anyone can get this much funding for a storytelling exercise .....

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

       Arno Schmidt at 102

       Yesterday I mentioned that it seems the John E. Woods-translation of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream, forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press really is forthcoming ... on 23 September, so the listing.
       Good timing -- as today is would have been Schmidt's 102nd birthday. If you can't make the get-together in Hammer in Hamburg today (Rumpffsweg 27, 11:00 local time) you can still begin to prepare for Bottom's Dream -- check out Schmidt's The School for Atheists, a great practice-volume for the (in every way) bigger Bottom's Dream, or learn more about Schmidt and his writing in my very own introductory Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy.

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

17 January 2016 - Sunday

Bottom's Dream -- a reality ?
DSC Prize for South Asian Literature | The Hindu Prize

       Bottom's Dream -- a reality ?

       A reader points me to the listing for John E. Woods' long-awaited translation of Arno Schmidt's (or 'Scmidt', as Amazon have it ...) Bottom's Dream from Dalkey Archive Press. Publication date: 23 September -- but you can pre-order now (though it's not yet listed at, last I checked). That should leap right to the near the top of your most-anticipated books/translations of the year list.
       The US$70.00 price tag sounds about right; the 300 page length definitely wrong (no way you can fit that text onto 300 pages -- the 1200+ page German edition is already an oversize format) -- but hopefully, as with the author-name, that's just a minor slip.
       (There's no publicity page at the Dalkey site yet that I can find; I'll keep you posted on additional news/reports as they become available.)

       Meanwhile, as you impatiently count down the days to 23 September, prepare yourself with my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at or, or on Kindle (get your copy at or

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

       DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

       They've announced that Sleeping on Jupiter (by Anuradha Roy) has won this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. (Well, what they announced, in keeping with this ridiculously personality-focused age, is that: "Anuradha Roy has been announced as the winner of the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016", but it's a book prize, not an author prize: Sleeping on Jupiter is what won (though Roy gets the US $50,000).)
       This novel -- which was also Man Booker Prize-longlisted last year -- is actually only coming out in the US (from Graywolf) in September -- pre-order your copy at -- but the UK edition has been out for a while; get your copy at

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

       The Hindu Prize

       They've announced that The Hindu Prize goes to When the River Sleeps, by Easterine Kire -- beating out, among other shortlisted titles, the DSC Prize-winner, Sleeping on Jupiter, as well as the latest by Amitav Ghosh and Amit Chaudhuri.
       See also the Zubaan publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

16 January 2016 - Saturday

Ann Goldstein Q & As | My Struggle in Korea | New Asymptote

       Ann Goldstein Q & As

       Two Q & As with the translator of Elena Ferrante (The Days of Abandonment, etc.) and Primo Levi (leading The Complete Works of Primo Levi team):        (Updated - 21 January): See now also Jennifer Maloney's profile in the Wall Street Journal, Ann Goldstein: A Star Italian Translator.

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

       My Struggle in Korea

       As Park Hyong-ki puts it in The Korea Herald, they're putting an awful lot of pressure on Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle:
Confronting growing problems in the Korean literary landscape, such as a continuing decline in book reading, plagiarism and the unpopularity of novels, Hangilsa Publishing, a Korean publisher based in Paju, Gyeonngi Province, seeks to turn the tide with a new book from Norway.
       Yes, Local publisher Hangilsa seeks to revive interest in novels through 'My Struggle'.
       Hey, if that's what it takes .....
       See also the Hangilsa publicity page for 나의 투쟁 1.

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

       New Asymptote

       The January issue of Asymptote is now up -- and American readers can be grateful there's a three-day-weekend, which maybe gives them sufficient time to make their way through this impressive amount of impressive material.
       I won't even begin to highlight what's on offer -- just work your way through .....

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

15 January 2016 - Friday

Leena Krohn profile | Bookselling in 2015 in ... the US

       Leena Krohn profile

       Leena Krohn's Collected Fiction came out from Cheeky Frawg late last year, and is certainly among the more impressive volumes-in-translation of 2015; see their publicity page , or get your copy at or
       At The New Yorker's Page-Turner weblog Peter Bebergal has a nice introductory piece on Cracking the Codes of Leena Krohn.

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

       Bookselling in 2015 in ... the US

       At Publishers Weekly Jim Milliot looks at The Hot and Cold Book Categories of 2015 -- which shows just how much an effect a single title's success can have in a 'category', as, for example:
The 49% jump in the house & home category was due almost entirely to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which sold about 1.2 million copies.
       Similarly, coloring books boosted 'art/architecture/photography' .....
       In Adult Fiction there was a big rise in 'Graphic Novels' and big and bigger falls in 'Romance' amd 'Mystery/Detective'.
       Somewhat worryingly, 'Religion/Bibles' was the top-selling adult category -- beating out even 'General Fiction' and 'Reference', the next two most successful adult categories. But the kids are countering that: the biggest categories of them all are the juvenile fiction ones -- 'General' and then 'Science Fiction/Fantasy/Magic'.

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

14 January 2016 - Thursday

RBC Taylor Prize finalists | Dear Reader review

       RBC Taylor Prize finalists

       They've announced the five finalists for this year's RBC Taylor Prize -- a prize whose mandate is: "to enhance public appreciation for the genre known as literary non-fiction".
       It's a Canadian prize -- and, while books have to be published in English to be eligible, translations are welcome -- and, in the event of a translated text winning, the translator and the author share the prize money equally. (None of this year's finalists is a translation.)
       The winner will be announced 7 March.

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

       Dear Reader review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Paul Fournel's Dear Reader, in David Bellos' translation, recently published by Pushkin Press.
       Fournel is the 'provisionally definitive secretary' and president of the Oulipo -- and, yes, Dear Reader is also a 'constrained' text (not that you'd guess it at first sight -- or that you'd put it to the test, I suspect). Bellos' version has the same constraints -- a technically impressive (and slightly bizarre) feat.

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

13 January 2016 - Wednesday

International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist | The White Review

       International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, 16 novels selected from 159 entries from 18 countries.
       The shortlist will be announced 9 February, and the winner will be announced on 26 April.

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

       The White Review

       The January translation online issue of The White Review, edited by Daniel Medin, is now online -- and there's definitely quite a bit here you probably want to have a look at.
       From Hildesheimer on Renata Adler's Speedboat to Q & As with Fiston Mwanza Mujila (the Tram 83-author) and with Marlene Van Niekerk (the Triomf-author) -- and lots of translations, too.

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

12 January 2016 - Tuesday

Translations from the French, 2015 | Felâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi review

       Translations from the French, 2015

       At French Culture they have an overview of Translated Titles 2015 (with the full Estimated List of Titles Translated from French to English in 2015 (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) available separately).
       They report that there were 473 translated titles -- a significant (well, they call it "slight") decline from the 547 in 2014 -- with 162 fiction titles, 130 non, 116 'graphic novels', and 46 children's/YA titles.
       You'll note that this tally differs from the Three Percent database numbers -- which, at last count, found only 111 titles translated from the French last year. But that's because they count differently -- Three Percent includes only fiction and poetry, and doesn't count any new editions/translations of previously published/translated work. (Also: some of the French Culture titles aren't distributed int the US, which also keeps them off the Three Percent list.)
       In any case, the French Culture list is a useful reference, and gives a good sense of what is being published in translation. (Though I really wish they'd separate out the comic books from the rest .....)

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

       Felâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of An Ottoman Novel by Ahmet Midhat Efendi, Felâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi, forthcoming from Syracuse University Press.
       Nice to see this slim 1875 novel -- a Turkish classic, if not exactly high 'literature' -- available in English -- and it really is quite good fun, too.

       Astonishingly this is the thirteenth different language the thirteen most recently reviewed titles was originally written in -- a remarkably unlikely streak. It would take considerable effort to consciously accomplish that, but it happened more or less by chance. (I could, of course, extend it, now that I'm aware of it, but it comes to an end with the next review -- the title selected pretty much as randomly as most of the books I cover are.)

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

11 January 2016 - Monday

Tom Stoppard Q & A | The Man in a Hurry review

       Tom Stoppard Q & A

       At the Daily Beast Malcolm Jones has a promisingly-titled Q & A with Tom Stoppard: I Want To Be Like Verdi (which really isn't an ambition you hear that often nowadays).
       The occasion is apparently the 'Blu-Ray' release of the DVD of the Stoppard-directed film version of his play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (get your copy at or

       (Looking for the DVD version I stumbled across the inevitable Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead -- though apparently Stoppard was not involved in the making of this, to my great regret ...; get your copy at (and, hey, this, too, is available in 'Blu-ray'; get your copy at

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

       The Man in a Hurry review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Paul Morand's 1941 novel, The Man in a Hurry, now available in English from Pushkin Press.
       There's a film version of this too -- starring Alain Delon, no less. You can even see it (in three separate chunks) on YouTube, starting here..

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

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