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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 August 2018

21 August: Mountain Echoes | Trends in American kids' reading | Hugo Awards
22 August: Hanna Mina (1924-2018) | Killing Commendatore review
23 August: Translation from ... Chinese | Translating classics
24 August: Rentrée littéraire anticipation | Through Two Doors at Once review
25 August: Writivism buzz | Olga Tokarczuk reading Q & A | Theroux on Naipaul | Endless Blue Sky review
26 August: English, August at 30 | Literary magazines in ... Burma
27 August: Miles Franklin Literary Award | The 'Great Indian Novel' | Wedding Song review
28 August: New issue of World Literature Today | Sara Khalili Q & A | 猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ review
29 August: Knockoff Nobel Prize announces finalists | Bolshevik Salute review
30 August: National Endowment for the Arts translation grants | Without Fail review
31 August: Best Translated Book Award basics | Reading in ... Turkey | Jan Michalski Prize, second selection

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31 August 2018 - Friday

Best Translated Book Award basics | Reading in ... Turkey
Jan Michalski Prize, second selection

       Best Translated Book Award basics

       At Three Percent they're getting ready for next year's award, and now offer BTBA 2019: Juries, Dates, Request for Your Books.
       They name the judges -- nine for the fiction category, five for poetry -- and prize-handicappers will want to read personal preferences into the brief bios (good luck with: "a reader from Tulsa" -- though that's definitely my favorite one).
       The (not yet set in stone) dates are:
  • longlists announced: 10 April
  • shortlists announced: 15 May
  • winners announced: 31 May
       Publishers are encouraged to submit any and all eligible titles (basically: never-before-published-in-the-US translations published during the calendar year 2018). (I'm curious what the eligibility-call will be on Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries, which was previously published in a radically abridged (about half ...) version, and: "A book that existed in English in a previous translation is not eligible, unless more than half of its content is new"; it's a very close call. (If it is deemed eligible, it is automatically one of the favorites, a surely can't miss shortlister, at the least .....)) You can figure out which titles are (probably ...) eligible using the Translation Database at Publishers Weekly -- just click "2018" and then select which genre you're interested in.
       I've long been meaning to list my favorites (and the titles I expect to make the longlist -- two lists that probably look very, very different), and I will get around to that; meantime, there is already some 2019 BTBA Speculation at the The Mookse and the Gripes' Goodreads discussion board -- I encourage you to play along.

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

       Reading in ... Turkey

       At Al-Monitor Pinar Tremblay reports that Turkish millennials seek their own literary heroes.
       Among the surprise bestsellers -- "from the dustbin of history": Sabahattin Ali's Madonna in a Fur Coat
       Among the impressive statistics:
According to a 2016 survey by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK), Turks on average watch six hours of television, surf the internet for three hours and spend merely one minute reading books daily.
Social media plays a strong role in reading choices for Turkish millennials and post-millennials. Zeynep, a 21-year-old born and raised in Ankara and currently studying in the United States, told Al-Monitor, "If I can follow the author on social media, I am more interested in reading their books. Instagram is particularly important because it is like a treasure hunt that we see the impact of their life on their writing. Also, the comments about the book are valuable for me."

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

       Jan Michalski Prize, second selection

       The Jan Michalski Prize has announced the second selection of the jury, leaving five books in the running for this CHF50,000 prize "awarded to a work of world literature in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, or illustrated books", regardless of language.
       Works by Jean Rolin (Le traquet kurde) and Olga Tokarczuk (her Nike-winning Księgi Jakubowe -- forthcoming (though only a year from now) as The Books of Jacob from Fitzcarraldo Editions) are among those still in the running.

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

30 August 2018 - Thursday

National Endowment for the Arts translation grants | Without Fail review

       National Endowment for the Arts translation grants

       They've announced the 2019 (American) National Endowment for the Arts grants for translation of world literature into English.
       They awarded twenty-five grants, worth a total of US$325,000 -- see the full list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of recipients and their projects. Some interesting sounding works here, from some languages we don't see enough of in translation.

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

       Without Fail review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Child's Without Fail, the sixth of his Jack Reacher novels (from way back in 2002).

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

29 August 2018 - Wednesday

Knockoff Nobel Prize announces finalists
Bolshevik Salute review

       Knockoff Nobel Prize announces finalists

       Den Nya Akademien -- 'the New Academy' -- was established in the wake of the Nobel Prize-deciding Swedish Academy imploding earlier this year and their decision to postpone the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prize to 2019, this New Academy then established for the explicit purpose of awarding a Nobel-substitute 'New Prize in Literature' this fall.
       After letting Swedish librarians nominate forty-seven authors they opened voting to the public, as:
One finalist will be the author with the most nominations from the initial nominating process. Three finalists will be those with the most votes from the world voting.
       They've now announced the four finalists -- not yet at the official site, last I checked, but Dagens Nyheter has the pictures see the official announcement.
       The four are:        The Swedish Academy never announces the finalists -- just the winner (with those nominated and the finalists then revealed fifty years after the fact, when the archives are opened) -- so at least with this prize you have the possibility to debate who you think is most deserving.
       The winner will be decided on by this 'expert' jury.
       If you actually do have any interest in this ... well, the suspense lasts until 12 October, when they plan to announce the winner.

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

       Bolshevik Salute review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Modernist Chinese Novel, Wang Meng's 1979 novel, Bolshevik Salute.

       Wang Meng is an interesting figure in modern Chinese literature -- and he was Minister of Culture from 1986 to 1989; Jianying Zha had a profile of him in The New Yorker a few years ago.
       This is a problematic, programmatic novel -- but if someone asked me to make a list of the ten most essential works of fiction from the People's Republic of China (available in English ...) I would absolutely include it. It's not one of the ten best -- though it isn't that bad either (in its own, somwhat peculiar, way) -- but it's significant, and worthwhile, in a number of ways. A peculiar sort of stand-out -- and also a worthwhile read, I think.

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

28 August 2018 - Tuesday

New issue of World Literature Today | Sara Khalili Q & A
猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ review

       New issue of World Literature Today

       The September/October issue of World Literature Today is now up, with a special section devoted to 'Music & Lit'.
       As usual, the WLT Book Reviews covers a nice variety of titles.

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

       Sara Khalili Q & A

       Sara Khalili translates from the Persian, and among the works she's translated are Shahriar Mandanipour's Censoring an Iranian Love Story and Moon Brow; at the Asymptote blog Poupeh Missaghi now has a Q & A with her on Translating Iranian Fiction: An Interview with Sara Khalili.
       Among her responses:
As a translator, my greatest challenge is finding interested publishers.
       As to the particular situation regarding translation from Persian:
The unfavorable socio-political conditions, inside and outside Iran, have been present for four decades. They just tend to ebb and flow, from bad to worse and back.

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

       猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ogawa Yoko's 猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ.
       Several of her titles have been translated into English -- and another is coming out next spring, The Memory Police; see the Harvill Secker publicity page, for example -- but a lot haven't been, including this one (though it's available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish ...). Possibly it seemed too obviously Murakamiesque for US/UK publishers -- which would be disappointing: superficially it might seem so, but it really isn't.
       It is a chess novel, of sorts -- complete with 'mechanical Turk' storyline .....

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

27 August 2018 - Monday

Miles Franklin Literary Award | The 'Great Indian Novel' | Wedding Song review

       Miles Franklin Literary Award

       They've announced that The Life to Come, by Michelle de Kretser, has been awarded this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award; get your copy at or

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

       The 'Great Indian Novel'

       At Jenny Bhatt argues Why we should never give up our quest to find (or write) the Great Indian Novel.
       Bhatt suggests:
All of the pros and cons of The Great American Novel could easily apply to the Indian context, with three added convolutions.

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

       Wedding Song review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz's 1981 novel, Wedding Song.

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

26 August 2018 - Sunday

English, August at 30 | Literary magazines in ... Burma

       English, August at 30

       Upamanyu Chatterjee's English, August was published thirty years ago -- reason enough, apparently, for several articles noting the occasion:        And there's apparently a short prequel out, The Revenge of the Non-Vegetarian -- see the Speaking Tiger publicity page, or get your copy at or, and Somak Ghoshal's English, August at 30: Revisiting Agastya Sen and his kind at livemint.

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

       Literary magazines in ... Burma

       In the Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports on The fall of literary magazines -- as:
As Myanmar evolved, internet became increasingly popular and replaced magazines in the heart of the youth.

As if that was not enough, book rental shops, where the latest magazines used to be bought, disappeared into thin air, cursed by the lack of interest in readings of the new generation.

In the past, each street had at least one book rental shop.
       Each street ! (Okay, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration .....)
       And of course it's the fault of the internet .....

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

25 August 2018 - Saturday

Writivism buzz | Olga Tokarczuk reading Q & A
Theroux on Naipaul | Endless Blue Sky review

       Writivism buzz

       The 2018 Writivism festival ran 17 to 19 August in Kampala, with Taban Lo Liyong (Another Last Word, etc.) giving the opening keynote address, and at okayafrica. Tadiwa Madenga now reports On Reinventing African Lit: All the Buzz From East Africa's Biggest Literary Festival.

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

       Olga Tokarczuk reading Q & A

       The Guardian's 'Books that made me'-series -- "Authors on the books they wish they'd written, the books they give as gifts, the books they couldn't finish and more ..." -- features Olga Tokarczuk this week.
       Among her responses:
The book that is most underrated
The Doll by Bolesław Prus, a love story based on social class in Poland at the end of the 19th century. It’s beautiful writing from the Polish literary tradition of that period, and when you compare it with what was being written in other parts of the world at the same time you see how clever it was.
       (And, yes, it's available in a nice New York Review Books edition -- well worth seeking out.)
My comfort read
I like to come back to the science fiction of Stanisław Lem. He is comforting but also funny, and although I know his books, there’s always something new to discover.
       Indeed, Lem is always worth returning to !

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

       Theroux on Naipaul

       Paul Theroux wrote at considerable length about V.S.Naipaul in Sir Vidia's Shadow, but now with the master's passing he also has a short piece at The New Yorker, Memories of V.S.Naipaul.

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

       Endless Blue Sky review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Hyoseok's 1941 Korean novel, Endless Blue Sky, just out in English in a lovely edition from Honford Star.

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

24 August 2018 - Friday

Rentrée littéraire anticipation | Through Two Doors at Once review

       Rentrée littéraire anticipation

       The French 'rentrée littéraire', when the year's major titles are thrown onto the market, has begun, and over the coming weeks 567 works of fiction -- 381 written in French, 186 in translation -- will be coming out, so there's lots of media coverage (and all sorts of angles to it ...)
       Among the 'highlight'-reports, giving you some idea of (what are expected to be) the major titles, are:        The firsts selections of the major French literary prizes will also be announced in the first weeks of September, so that will also give a better sense of what the 'big' titles of the season are.

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

       Through Two Doors at Once review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anil Ananthaswamy on The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality, Through Two Doors at Once.

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

23 August 2018 - Thursday

Translation from ... Chinese | Translating classics

       Translation from ... Chinese

       China Daily reports that Translators, publishers discuss future cooperation, reporting -- alas, not at great depth -- on: "a conference on the global transmission of Chinese books" organized by the Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network (which is an institution I'd love to hear more about).
       Meanwhile, also in China Daily, Cheng Yuezhu and Xing Yi report Survey reveals two sides to China story -- where:
the subject matter of books about Chinese culture in the overseas market falls largely within the realm of traditional, rather than contemporary, culture -- a trend that may not be presenting an accurate reflection of modern-day China.
       It sure sounds like they're trying/hoping to exert some influence about that image abroad:
As foreign publishers become more familiar with the interests of local readers, and Chinese editors can oversee the selection of Chinese cultural content, their collaboration may be better placed to tell an authentic Chinese story while taking market forces into consideration, the report concludes.

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

       Translating classics

       At the Words without Borders Daily weblog Alta L. Price has a Q & A with three translators, Women Translating the Classics: An Interview with Emily Wilson, Sholeh Wolpé, and Arshia Sattar.

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

22 August 2018 - Wednesday

Hanna Mina (1924-2018) | Killing Commendatore review

       Hanna Mina (1924-2018)

       Syrian author Hanna Mina has passed away -- and even The New York Times has a same-day obituary, by Karen Zraick.
       None of his work is under review at the complete review, but a few novels have been translated; Fragments of Memory is the easiest to find -- see the Interlink publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Killing Commendatore review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Murakami Haruki's latest, Killing Commendatore, due out in just over a month in both the US and UK.

       That's the third of the big(gest) translations appearing this fall that I've reviewed -- along with Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle: Book Six and Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries. Not a bad fall line-up at all (and there are some decent shorter works coming too -- though I have to say that my preference for the long read is growing ever-more pronounced ...).

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

21 August 2018 - Tuesday

Mountain Echoes | Trends in American kids' reading | Hugo Awards

       Mountain Echoes

       The Mountain Echoes literary festival in Bhutan runs tomorrow through the 25th, with the local literary scene getting a nice write-up in The New York Times yesterday, as Jeffrey Gettleman reported on A New, Flourishing Literary Scene in the Real Shangri-La.
       Meanwhile, the Sunday Guardian previewed it, in Bhutan is all set to host the ninth edition of Mountain Echoes lit fest.

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

       Trends in American kids' reading

       In Psychology of Popular Media Culture Jean M. Twenge, Gabrielle N. Martin, and Brian H. Spitzberg report on Trends in U.S. Adolescents' Media Use, 19762016: The Rise of Digital Media, the Decline of TV, and the (Near) Demise of Print (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) and, as the title suggests, the trends re. book (and other print) reading are ... not good.
       So, for example:
In the early 1990s, 33% of 10th graders said they read newspapers almost every day; by 2016, only 2% did. In the late 1970s, 60% of 12th graders said they read a book or magazine almost every day; by 2016, only 16% did. Twelfth graders reported reading two fewer books a year on average in 2016 compared with the late 1970s, and the number who said they did not read any books for pleasure nearly tripled, reaching one out of three by 2016.
       Whatever Harry Potter-effect there was for a while when those books first came out -- and the graphs suggest there was one -- seems over and done with, and (book+) reading looks like it's increasingly on the way out. Done for. Passé. (Note, however: so is watching TV .....)
       But, hey, social media use, gaming, and general internet use are all up.

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

       Hugo Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Hugo Awards, a leading American science fiction prize, with The Stone Sky, by N.K.Jemisin, taking the Best Novel award -- impressively, the third year in a row she's taken the prize; see also her acceptance speech.
       The Hugos also have prizes in categories such as 'Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form' -- basically, best screenplay -- and 'Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form' -- best TV script -- which is fun, and I also like how they provide a detailed breakdown (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of the voting for each award (I'd love it if all prizes did something like this !).

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

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