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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 June 2016

11 June: Online literature in China | Prizes: Prix Relay des Voyageurs-Lecteurs - Prix Saint-Simon
12 June: Profiles: Sjón - Saadat Hasan Manto - Furukawa Hideo | Prize help | The Year 200 review
13 June: Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | 'The Bookstore' appearance | Too Close to the Edge review
14 June: Franz Kafka Prize | Q & As: Alfred MacAdam - Péter Zilahy
15 June: Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016) | Internationaler Literaturpreis HKW | Premio Gregor von Rezzori | Raja Rao archive | Lisa review
16 June: Princess of Asturias Award for Literature | 'Emerging Voices Awards' longlist | Lois Duncan (1934-2016) | New Quarterly Conversation
17 June: A.B.Yehoshua 'By the Book' | Charlotte Salomon movie | Alpine Ballad review
18 June: Translations from ... Taiwan | New Hungarian books
19 June: Shakespeare's First Folio review
20 June: A.F.Th. van der Heijden goes serial | Abahn Sabana David review | Review of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction

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20 June 2016 - Monday

A.F.Th. van der Heijden goes serial | Abahn Sabana David review
Review of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction

       A.F.Th. van der Heijden goes serial

       NRC Boeken have announced that a new novel by A.F.Th. van der Heijden, President Tsaar op Obama Beach, -- about MH17, the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine in 2014 (with many Dutch passengers on board) -- will be serialized over sixty days in NRC Handelsblad, starting 25 June.
       So this will be the new van der Heijden, published this fall ? Hardly -- instead, it's the prolific author's 800-pager Kwaadschiks -- the sixth and latest in his 'De tandeloze tijd' series -- that is due in September; see the De Bezige Bij publicity page.
       Van der Heijden is now no longer untranslated-into-English -- Tonio came out last year -- but publishers have shied away from his generally very long books; several are under review at the complete review (see, for example, Vallende ouders, the first (sort of) in 'De tandeloze tijd'-cycle). And while The Girls by Emma Cline is much-discussed all over, van der Heijden's own inspired twist on the Manson tale, Het schervengericht remains unavailable in English ... (yes, it is long ...).
       See also the Dutch Foundation for Literature van der Heijden-page.

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

       Abahn Sabana David review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marguerite Duras' 1970 novel, Abahn Sabana David, now available in English for the first time, from Open Letter.

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

       Review of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction

       I'm very pleased to see Colin Harrington's review in The Berkshire Edge of my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- including the conclusion:
This book will be exchanged and borrowed and talked about in reading circles and college literature departments for its empowering access to world literature, for its resourcefulness, and for opening the doors to literature from anywhere in the world.
       But you knew that, and you've got your copy already, right ?
       See also the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or, or at your local bookseller, who, I hope, has copies piled high .....

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

19 June 2016 - Sunday

Shakespeare's First Folio review

       Shakespeare's First Folio review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Emma Smith on Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, Shakespeare's First Folio, just out from Oxford University Press.

       Somewhat confusingly, Smith has also just come out with The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio (see the publicity page, and get your copy at or -- but, hey, if you want more First Folio fun .....

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

18 June 2016 - Saturday

Translations from ... Taiwan | New Hungarian books

       Translations from ... Taiwan

       At Taiwan Today they briefly discuss how Translation project expands reach of Taiwan literature, as:
Sixteen books by Taiwan authors have been translated into English, French, Japanese, Korean and Swedish as part of efforts by National Museum of Taiwan Literature in southern Taiwan's Tainan City to expand the international reach of local literature.
       Yes, it's not exactly LTI Korea, but it's something -- and (finally) getting Li Ang's The Lost Garden into English was certainly an achievement.
       See also the National Museum of Taiwan Literature's Taiwan Literature in Translation-page.

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

       New Hungarian books

       At hlo they have a (far-too-small) sampling of recent Hungarian books (recent in Hungary that is -- and not close to English translation, sigh) from prominent (in Hungary ...) authors.
       Esterházy Péter registers even in the US/UK (The Book of Hrabal, etc.), and who could resist his 'Pancreas Diary', which apparently asks the pressing question: "Can you write about pancreatic cancer as a love affair ?"

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

17 June 2016 - Friday

A.B.Yehoshua 'By the Book' | Charlotte Salomon movie | Alpine Ballad review

       A.B.Yehoshua 'By the Book'

       The New York Times Book Review's 'By the Book' Q & A this weekend features A.B.Yehoshua, who proves himself to be almost comically conservative in his reading habits -- there's nary a present-day author in sight here, at least until the very end, when he -- warily ? -- claims his next bookstore purchase will be ... the first in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle-series.
       He's pretty up-front about it, however: "Very possibly I am missing out on important genres. But itís too late to change my conservatism."

       The only Yehoshua-title under review at the complete review is The Retrospective.

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

       Charlotte Salomon movie

       I recently reviewed David Foenkinos' mega-bestselling 2014 prix Renaudot-winning novel about artist Charlotte Salomon, Charlotte, and now they've announced that Bibo Bergeron Set to Direct 'Charlotte Salomon' Animated Biopic, based on her Life ? Or Theatre ? (which you can page through in its entirety here).
       Well, at least Foenkinos is not involved ..... (Miriam Toews is apparently co-writing the screenplay.)

       (The Foenkinos still does not seem to have made much of an impact/impression in the US, going un-reviewed and, apparently, generally unnoticed; I can't recall an international bestseller (half a million copies sold in France ! that's huge) that arrived this DOA.)

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

       Alpine Ballad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Belarusian author Vasil Bykau's Alpine Ballad, in a new (and uncensored) translation, just out from Glagoslav.

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

16 June 2016 - Thursday

Princess of Asturias Award for Literature | 'Emerging Voices Awards' longlist
Lois Duncan (1934-2016) | New Quarterly Conversation

       Princess of Asturias Award for Literature

       The Princess of Asturias Awards used to be the Prince of Asturias Awards, until they promoted the guy to 'king of Spain' and had to hand them off to the princess; they are awarded in a variety of categories, including 'Sports' and 'International Cooperation', and they've now announced that Richard Ford will be getting the Literature award -- and the tidy "cash prize of €50,000" that goes with it .
       None of Ford's work is under review at the complete review.

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

       'Emerging Voices Awards' longlist

       The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards are a bit odd -- they're: "open to passport holders of emerging nations in three categories", but only certain regions for each category, e.g. only Latin American and Caribbean artists in the film category ..... They announced the longlists for this year's awards recently, and among them is that for fiction, limited to authors from the 'Asia-Pacific' area.
       Two of the titles are under review at the complete review -- Man Tiger, by Eka Kurniawan, and The Four Books, by Yan Lianke -- though I do hope and expect to get to several more (including The Bones of Grace, by Tahmima Anam, and The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan).

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

       Lois Duncan (1934-2016)

       American YA author Lois Duncan has passed away; see for example the rap sheet mention.
       Not much YA under review at the complete review, but two Duncan titles are: Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer (both of which were also made into films).

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

       New Quarterly Conversation

       Issue 44 - Summer 2016 of the Quarterly Conversation is now available online, with the usual interesting mix of titles covered -- check it out !

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

15 June 2016 - Wednesday

Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016) | Internationaler Literaturpreis HKW
Premio Gregor von Rezzori | Raja Rao archive | Lisa review

       Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016)

       Translator Gregory Rabassa -- best-known as the translator of the Gabriel García Márquez classic, One Hundred Years of Solitude -- has passed away; see, for example, Matt Schudel's obituary in The Washington Post -- or Thomas Hoeksema's 1978 Q & A with him in Translation Review.
       Several Rabassa-translations are under review at the complete review -- as is his memoir, If This Be Treason.

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

       Internationaler Literaturpreis HKW

       The Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt is a leading German prize for a book-in-translation, with the winning author receiving €20,000 and the translator €15,000 (not quite Man Booker International Prize money, but pretty close), and they've announced that this year's prize goes to the German translation of Shumona Sinha's 2011 novel, Assommons les pauvres !; see also the Deutsche Welle report, Tales from France's immigration office win German International Literature Award
       Among the books it beat out: Valeria Luiselli's The Story of my Teeth and Ivan Vladislavić's Double Negative (the latter the only translated-from-the-English title to make the shortlist).
       Sinha's work -- see the Éditions de l'Olivier publicity page -- won a couple of French prizes, and foreign rights have also been sold in Italian and Bulgarian -- but apparently not in the US/UK yet. (I'm not sure that the publishers are helping their cause with the foreign rights brochure (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), where the suggested English title is: 'Knock out the poors !')

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

       Premio Gregor von Rezzori

       The Premio Gregor von Rezzori - Città di Firenze "is awarded is [sic] for the best work of foreign fiction published in Italy within the last year", and they've announced that Blinding, by Mircea Cărtărescu, has taken this year's prize, beating out books by Dany Laferrière, Yiyun Li, Dinaw Mengestu, and Lorrie Moore.
       Somewhat confusingly, they also award a Premio Gregor von Rezzori for the best translation of the year, which went to Fulvio Ferrari for his translation of Fredrik Sjöberg's The Fly Trap.
       The Cărtărescu is also available in English, from Archipelago Books: see their publicity page, and get your copy at or

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

       Raja Rao archive

       They've announced that the Harry Ransom Center Acquires Archive of Indian Author Raja Rao -- though the 'acquisition' was a cheap one: apparently the archive was donated by the estate. (Given what some writer's archives have gone for, I wonder whether this one could have been sold; the University of Texas is an appropriate repository, but I wonder if there was any Indian bidding/interest.)
       Raja Rao doesn't get that much attention nowadays -- maybe this will help ? -- and the only one of his works under review at the complete review is the relatively minor Comrade Kirillov (but I do hope to get to more).

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

       Lisa review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Thomas Glavinic's Lisa.
       This has not been translated into English, but you can probably do without it ..... But I'm trying to catch up on my Glavinic-coverage and have had this one lying around for a while, so .....

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

14 June 2016 - Tuesday

Franz Kafka Prize | Q & As: Alfred MacAdam - Péter Zilahy

       Franz Kafka Prize

       The Czech Franz Kafka Prize briefly got wider notice when it was noticed that in 2004 and 2005 they selected the writers who would go on to win the win the Nobel Prize in the same year (Jelinek and Pinter).
       They've continued to give the prize to authors who are often in the Nobel discussion -- Peter Handke, Amos Oz, Yves Bonnefoy, Murakami Haruki -- and even when they give it to less wiely known (abroad) talent it's worth noting (such as 2012 winner Daniela Hodrová, author of e.g. A Kingdom of Souls).
       They've now determined who is getting this year's prize (in the fall), and if the announcement isn't large-scale or loud, yet, it is, apparently Blindly-author Claudio Magris -- another fine selection.

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

       Q & A: Alfred MacAdam

       At the Asymptote blog Ryan Mihaly is In Conversation with Alfred MacAdam -- the translator, most recently, of Albina and the Dog-Men (by Alejandro Jodorowsky).

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

       Q & A: Péter Zilahy

       At Words without Borders' Dispatches weblog Buzz Poole has a Q & A with Péter Zilahy.
       Sad to hear about his The Last Window-Giraffe (which has been: "translated into more than twenty languages, including a UK edition that got great reviews, but its practically unknown in North America outside niche literary circles"):
This book has been declined by the great American publishers, large and small. One of them wrote a letter I still have, saying this was the best book he ever had to refuse, but he was afraid that the work is too complex for the American audience. No one believes in the reader.
       Amazing to hear and yet entirely too believable.

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

13 June 2016 - Monday

Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize
'The Bookstore' appearance | Too Close to the Edge review

       Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

       In wanting to report about some recent translation prizes I find myself flummoxed by the official sites' apparent indifference to getting the word out: the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes were announced almost a week ago, but they apparently can't be bothered to publish a press release on the site, or update their pages (even the homepage makes a big deal about the finalists but, last I checked, offers no word on who won); in my desperation I even checked their 'Facebook' page (and almost nothing can get me to check a 'Facebook' page), but there was no update there yet either ..... Via Twitter I learn that apparently the recent translation of Les Misérables by Christine Donougher took the fiction prize, but I'm still looking for official confirmation .....
       The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize was announced more recently -- and over the non-workday weekend -- so they have a slightly better excuse for delays -- and if not yet (as I write this) at the official site at least it's noted in an aside at the OCCT weblog: it seems Philip Roughton (for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson's The Heart of Man) and Paul Vincent and John Irons (for theirs of 100 Dutch-language Poems) shared the prize.

       I fail to understand why prizes that have decent web-presences -- and apparently have some difficulty in getting press coverage (I've not found any press coverage of either of these two prize-announcements as I write this) -- don't post the news online in timeliest fashion (so folks can get the news, and link to it, etc.).

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

       'The Bookstore' appearance

       A reminder that I'll be appearing at The Bookstore, in Lenox MA, at 17;30 (5:30 PM) today to introduce and talk about my book, The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
       See you there !

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

       Too Close to the Edge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pascal Garnier's Too Close to the Edge, as Gallic Books kindly keeps the very welcome translations coming.
       This one is one of his more over the top ones -- closer to Jean-Patrick Manchette, with his Fatale-type excesses, than, say, Simenon -- but it still works.

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

12 June 2016 - Sunday

Profiles: Sjón - Saadat Hasan Manto - Furukawa Hideo
Prize help | The Year 200 review

       Profile: Sjón

       The Icelandic author of, among others, The Blue Fox and The Whispering Muse, is profiled in The Guardian by Sarah Crown, in Sjón: I’m one of the few people who’ve had Björk as a backing singer.
       His new novel, Moonstone, is out in the UK and is due out in the US in August, and I should be getting to it soon; meanwhile, see the Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicity page, and get your copy at or

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

       Profile: Saadat Hasan Manto

       Urdu-writing great Saadat Hasan Manto is profiled by Sarfraz Manzoor in The Guardian, in Saadat Hasan Manto: 'He anticipated where Pakistan would go'.
       None of his work is under review at the complete review (yet), but Ayesha Jalal's study of Manto's Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide, The Pity of Partition, is.

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

       Profile: Furukawa Hideo

       Furukawa Hideo's Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure recently came out, and in The Japan Times Kris Kosaka profiles the author, in Novelist Hideo Furukawa views the Fukushima disaster through nonhuman eyes.
       Only one other of his books is available in English, but from the sounds of it -- e.g. also here -- there's a lot more that looks really promising.

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

       Prize help

       In The National Ben East looks how International Prize for Arabic Fiction aims to make Arabic literature accessible to English audience.
       Prizes do help bring books to publishers' (and others' -- like me, who tends to report on them a lot in these pages) attention -- not necessarily just winning titles, but shortlisted, etc. ones too, and obviously the seal-of-approval a prize win gives helps sell foreign rights. Naturally, a generous prize like the IPAF -- which: "covers the cost of the English translation" of the winning title -- helps a lot more ....
       Still, one hopes, or at least wishes, that foreign publishers are able to look beyond the attention-getting prize winners; as we know all too well from US/UK literary prizes, great books often don't get prize-recognition, and that's surely the case abroad as well.

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

       The Year 200 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Cuban science-fiction legend Agustín de Rojas' The Year 200, forthcoming from Restless Books.

       I was quite impressed -- but the Kirkus reviewer certainly wasn't, concluding:
This outsized so-called classic should have stayed in the past.
       (The reviewer also notes: "this book's got more boobs than a Porky's film", which I have to admit I did not notice. (There's some nudity, but the breast-mentions did not seem that prominent -- but then I've never seen a 'Porky's' film to compare it to .....))

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

11 June 2016 - Saturday

Online literature in China
Prizes: Prix Relay des Voyageurs-Lecteurs - Prix Saint-Simon

       Online literature in China

       The phenomenon -- and phenomenal success of -- online literature in China is something that, as I have frequently noted , isn't noted or noticed nearly enough abroad. Sixth Tone now offer a sliver more insight, in Li You's Q&A With Author Zhang Wei on China's Online Literature.
       Zhang Wei is apparently : "China's wealthiest and most prolific internet novelist", having: "earned 110 million yuan (over $16 million) in royalties last year" .....
       He certainly is cocky:
Sixth Tone: How do you write so fast ?

Zhang Wei: That's a tough question to answer. All I can say is I'm gifted.
       And maybe we really are missing something in not having access to much of this Chinese internet literature ...:
If Game of Thrones were a Chinese internet novel, I don't think it'd have much success; its content just isn't outstanding enough. The TV show made it very appealing, but if it were just in text form, it wouldn't stand out from the sea of other internet fiction in China.

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

       Prize: Prix Relay des Voyageurs-Lecteurs

       They've announced that Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You has won this year's Prix Relay des Voyageurs-Lecteurs, a sort of 'best travel-read' award. (It's actually been around for a while, originally under the more grandiose name of Prix Ulysse, and there's been an interesting set of winners, including Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart (UK title: Mend the Living) in 2014 and Antoine Laurain's The President's Hat in 2012; of course, Jeffrey Archer has also won this prize (in 2010) .....)
       The Ng was one of three written-in-English finalists -- with Richard Flanagan's Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North one of the others --, with the fourth finalist a book by the great Jean Echenoz. Solid competition.
       Get your copy of Everything I Never Told You at or

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

       Prize: prix Saint-Simon

       Okay, it's a memoir prize, and it tends to go to authors of a fairly advanced age (octogenarian seems to be the norm); still, nice to see that this year's prix Saint-Simon goes to Jean d'Ormesson (for Je dirai malgré tout que cette vie fut belle) -- an author who is turning ninety-one next week.
       New York Review Books have just re-issued one of his novels, and I will be getting to The Glory of the Empire soon; meanwhile, see their publicity page, and get your copy at or

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

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