The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Giannozzo Manetti's fifteenth-century On Human Worth and Excellence, another volume in the I Tatti Renaissance Library.
I've been meaning to get to David Marsh's biography, Giannozzo Manetti: The Life of a Florentine Humanist -- see the Harvard University Press publicity page -- but figured I might as well tackle this one first.
Have you ever thought of writing a novel based in either the U.S. and England where you've spent a significant amount of time ?
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
But I hope I can do so one day: one novel based in UK and another based in the USA.
Nice to hear (he is 82, after all); great to hear he still has such ambitions.
And he reminds us:
For me the big divide is really between Europhone African writers, that is those Africans who write in European languages, and African writers, that is Africans who write in African languages.
And I am not talking about quality.
Remember there has been a lot of genius in Europhone African literature.
What I want is to see more of this genius exploring the possibilities in African languages.
It is African languages that need us not European languages.
I also imagine it won't be long before an unabridged version of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle will be made available in English.
Again, I hope the author and publisher will choose to keep both versions in print.
Sure, it would be neat if both versions were kept in print, but I'd be happy to ditch the old translation for a complete one.
At Aesthetics for Birds Becca Rothfeld has a Q & A with the literary critic James Wood on how criticism works.
Good to see him point out that: "I think reviewing a book is somewhat different from “doing criticism” as most academics perform it, either in class or in an academic journal".
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lars Mytting's international bestseller, The Bell in the Lake, now also out in the US from The Overlook Press.
Mytting achieved considerable success with his (non-fiction) Norwegian Wood -- which is, in fact, about Norwegian wood -- and a previous novel, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, was published in the UK a few years ago but apparently didn't make it to the US.
This one is certainly also a crowd-pleaser, but doesn't seem to have attracted too much US-attention yet.
The American Literary Translators Association has announced the winners of the 2020 National Translation Awards in poetry and prose.
The prose award went to Jordan Stump's translation of Marie NDiaye's The Cheffe; I haven't seen this one, but see the Alfred A. Knopf publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The poetry award went to Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi's translation of Kim Yideum's Hysteria.
(I haven't seen that one either.)
Yes, we're well set up for the battle of the Roth-biographies next spring !
While they share the same title, the sub-titles tell a different story: Bailey stakes a claim to definitiveness by insisting his is: The Biography.
Nadel takes the obvious alternative tack, positioning his version as: A Counterlife.
Bailey has also pointed out that: "I was given complete access; Nadel was given none."
This should be fun !
I assume that, for those who actually enjoy biographies -- count me out --, two perspectives are better than one.
Indeed, the very difference Bailey points out -- Bailey apparently had an actual contract, a "collaboration agreement", with his subject, while Nadel was clearly kept at more than arm's length -- might well make for complementary life-stories.
Two times the Roth !
(Personally, I think people would be better off reading or re-reading Roth's -- often very autobiographical -- fiction (see, for example, The Ghost Writer).
But, hey, whatever works for you .....)
They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Goldsmiths Prize, a £10,000 prize rewarding: "fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form"; see also Ellen Peirson-Hagger's overview in the New Statesman.
I haven't seen any of these, but it's good to see a book by M. John Harrison on the list (The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again) -- one of two septuagenarians on the list.
There's also a book by DBC Pierre on the shortlist (Meanwhile in Dopamine City); I'm still reeling from his 2003 Man Booker-winning Vernon God Little, but maybe I should give something by him a try again .....
The winner will be announced on 11 November.
They've announced the finalists for this year's Albertine Prize, which recognizes: "American readers' favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction" -- five titles selected by a selection committee, with the public (in the US) now able to vote for who should get the prize (through 25 November).
Two of the finalists are under review at the complete review: Hold Fast Your Crown by Yannick Haenel and Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes; I haven't seen Animalia or Kannjawou.
The winner will be announced 9 December.
The Nobel Prize in Literature-deciding Swedish Academy has been in considerable turmoil and has had considerable turnover in recent years, but they finally filled the last two still-vacant chairs, 5 and 14, and are now at full-strength again.
The new academicians are Ingrid Carlberg and Steve Sem-Sandberg -- both of whom have written books that have been translated into English.
Carlberg's most recent work -- not yet available in English -- is, coïncidentally (?), a biography of ... Alfred Nobel; see also the Norstedts publicity page and the Hedlund Literary Agency information page.
Are they hoping for insider insights in handling the Nobel Foundation (which has been none too pleased with the Academy in recent years) ?
They've announced the winner of this year's John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and it is Aleksandar Hemon.
The award: "honors an underappreciated writer whose work offers incisive, original commentary on American themes, experiments with form and encompasses a range of human experiences" -- quite a lot to ask for.
I don't know about the underappreciated, but, hey .....
They've announced the winner of this year's prix de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, a €25,000 prize for: "a well-known French speaking writer for his entire work, on the occasion of the publication of one of his books", and it is Christian Bobin; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
Several Bobin titles have been translated into English; the only one under review at the complete review is The Lady in White.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Derek Marlowe's 1966 double-agent thriller, A Dandy in Aspic.
Marlowe wrote this when he shared a flat with Tom Stoppard and Piers Paul Read -- and was the first of the trio to hit it big, with this.
See also Stoppard's introduction to the recent re-issue of the novel.
It was also made into a film in 1968, the last directed by Anthony Mann, starring Laurence Harvey, Mia Farrow, Peter Cook, and Tom Courtenay.
The costume designer on the film was Pierre Cardin.
They've announced the winner of this year's German Book Prize, the best-known German novel prize, and it is Annette, ein Heldinnenepos, Anne Weber's novel in verse on the life of Anne Beaumanoir, the neurophysiologist famous both for her heroic actions during the Occupation, and then for having been sentenced to 10 years in prison for her support of the FLN during the Algerian war (she is also still alive, set to turn 97 at the end of the month).
See also the Matthes & Seitz Berlin publicity page, the New Books in German information page, and a sample translation (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Damion Searls (where they suggest an English title of: 'Epic Annette' ...).
See also the Deutsche Welle report, Anne Weber wins the German Book Prize 2020.
At Strange Horizons they have A Twentieth-Anniversary Round Table with: "a group of reviewers past and present" where they: "discuss what reviewing is, why it matters -- and why they bother with it".
Always a subject of interest -- at least hereabouts .....
You can also get more Ngũgĩ tomorrow, as the German Litprom are having a symposium, African Perspectives: Writers and Literary Experts in Conversation, which you can watch on YouTube.
Ngũgĩ starts things off with the keynote lecture that sounds like a can't miss: "End Literary Identity Theft: The Future of African Literatures in the World"
Then there are panel discussions, with panelists including: José Eduardo Agualusa, Nii Parkes, Maaza Mengiste, and Petina Gappah.