In Prospect Sameer Rahim writes about Eyes on the prize: my year as a Booker judge, as he was a judge for this year's Booker Prize.
Nothing too revealing -- will we have to wait, like with Nobel-awarding Swedish Academy deliberations, for fifty years until the Zoom-recordings (surely, hopefully taped) are made public ? -- but certainly some odds and ends of interest.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second volume in Julien Green's Dixie-trilogy, The Stars of the South.
When Marion Boyars published the first volume, The Distant Lands, it got some decent coverage; it even came out in paperback after the hardcover edition.
This one just came out in hardcover, and got much less review attention -- though Kirkus Reviewscalled it ... "one of the most deeply curious works of modern fiction" (and: "A troubling, oddly outdated work").
And the final volume in the trilogy, Dixie, never made into English at all .....
(I did make sure to at least get my hands on a copy of the French original before starting on this one, so that I wouldn't be left hanging .....)
Robin Buss -- who translated this volume (but not the first, which was translated by Barbara Beaumont) -- wrote about Marion Boyars in The Independent in 1999, in Champion of the avant-garde, and mentioned:
She had been Green's English publisher for many years; he gives admiring accounts of his meetings with her in his memoirs, successive volumes of which she methodically (and no doubt unprofitably) brought out.
She had been let down by her first translator for The Stars of the South and was eventually to fall out with Green over it, though she never told me the full story of what happened.
It was part of the nature of her kind of publishing that relationships with writers were personal and liable in some cases to go sour.
Highly-regarded in France, it is rather surprising that Green has remained so much outside the publishing mainstream in the US; sure, he wrote in French -- but he is American, after all.
In France his collected works -- 14,000 pages worth -- are published as part of the La Pléiade-series; I wonder whether he'll ever get a Library of America volume or two .....
They'll be announcing the winners of the two biggest French literary prizes -- the prix Goncourt and the prix Renaudot -- tomorrow, but especially the latter takes a big hit to its reputation with Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut's report in The New York Times 'on the entrenched and clubby nature of many of France's elite institutions', in Pedophile Scandal Can't Crack the Closed Circles of Literary France.
Gabriel Matzneff won a Renaudot in 2013 (just the non-fiction prize, but still) -- "engineered by an elite fully aware of his pedophilia", as:
His powerful editor and friends sat on the jury.
“We thought he was broke, he was sick, this will cheer him up,” said Frédéric Beigbeder, a confidant of Mr. Matzneff and a Renaudot juror since 2011.
As if that weren't troubling enough: "all but one of the same jurors who honored Mr. Matzneff are expected to crown this year's winners on Monday".
Really, the whole system is ... problematic:
In France's literary prize system, jurors serve usually for life and themselves select new members.
In a process rife with conflicts of interest that is rarely scrutinized, judges often select winners among friends, champion the work of a colleague and press on behalf of a romantic partner.
At The Bookseller they've announced the winner of this year's The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, and it is A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in Eastern Indonesian Society; see also the McGill-Queen's University Press publicity page.
They've announced the August Prize(s), the leading Swedish literary prizes.
The fiction prize went to Samlade verk ('Collected Works') by Lydia Sandgren; see also the Bonniers foreign rights page; it's already been sold into quite a few markets -- though not yet, apparently, the US or UK .....
As, for example, reported by Jim Milliot at Publishers Weekly, Bertelsmann to Buy S&S for $2.2 Billion -- making, essentially, for a merger of Bertelsmann-juggernaut Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster -- the largest and third largest trade publishers in the US; see also the Bertelsmann press release.
Yeah, that sounds healthy .....
They've announced the winner of this year's Finlandia Prize, the leading Finnish novel prize, worth €30,000, and it is Margarita, by Anni Kytömäki.
See also the Gummerus publicity page, or the Helsinki Agency information page.
Kytömäki doesn't seem to have broken through internationally yet; the size of this one may make it a rather hard sell, but it sounds like we'll be seeing her work in translation sooner or later.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dương Thu Hương's 1988 novel, Paradise of the Blind.
Amazingly, this was billed as: "the first novel from Vietnam ever published in the United States" when it came out here in 1993.
There still are far too few translations from the Vietnamese, but it's good to see that Dương has become fairly well established, with several titles available; she really is very good (and I should get around to reviewing more of her books).
Very sad to hear that John O'Brien, the founder and publisher of Dalkey Archive Press and its affiliated undertakings -- the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Context, and the Center for Book Culture -- has passed away; see, for example, the official announcement at the Dalkey Archive site.
Through these endeavors, O'Brien was, over the past thirty-five years, one of the leading figures in bringing literature in translation to an English-speaking audience; indeed, I can't think of anyone who brought as much, and as diverse an amount, to the US/UK market.
Until the rise of AmazonCrossing, Dalkey Archive was long the leading publisher -- in terms of the number of titles -- of works in translation published in the US, and it has apparently published around a thousand titles (including a decent number written in English).
Unsurprisingly, I have been a fan since the earliest days -- long before I started this site -- and once I did start the complete review, Dalkey Archive titles were obviously among those I was most eager to cover; I figure I own at least three-quarters of the list (many in the form of review-copy ARCs), and with over 200 titles under review at the complete review, Dalkey Archive is clearly the imprint most in synch with my interests and the site.
It's good to hear that a succession plan is in place, as:
Before his passing, the Dalkey Archive’s board of directors approved an agreement to merge with Deep Vellum Publishing, a nonprofit publishing house and literary arts center based in Dallas, TX.
Deep Vellum and its publisher Will Evans to honor John O’Brien’s legacy by keeping Dalkey Archive’s backlist in print and by signing future titles, together with the assistance of editorial consultant, Chad W. Post, of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester.
This sounds promising, and I hope for the best -- the Dalkey Archive backlist is a wonder (if also an unwieldy one), and it would also be wonderful if O'Brien's vision was also continued with a similar steady stream of future acquisitions; Deep Vellum, under Will Evans' leadership and with some guidance from Chad Post (who worked under O'Brien at Dalkey Archive for several years), certainly sounds like a good home for the imprint (though it is a lot to take on -- legacy- and other-wise).
(I do hope they keep the old website and publicity-page URLs; if I have to change those on every one of the 200+ review pages I will be ... displeased.)
The Society of Authors has announced the six shortlists for its Translation Prizes this year.
Surprisingly, none of the finalists for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (for translations from German) are under review at the complete review at this time -- but three of the finalists for the John Florio Prize (from the Italian) are:
Trick by Domenico Starnone, in Jhumpa Lahiri's translation
Other shortlists include that for the Premio Valle Inclán -- for translations from the Spanish --, from which one title is under review: Mac and His Problem (US title: Mac's Problem) by Enrique Vila-Matas, in Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes' translation, and the Scott Moncrieff Prize, for translations from the French, from which one title is under review: The Governesses by Anne Serre, in Mark Hutchinson's translation.
The winners will be announced on 11 February.
They've announced the winner of this year's £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, and it is One Two Three Four, by Craig Brown
That's the UK title; in the US this is being sold as 150 Glimpses of the Beatles .....
See also the publicity pages from 4th Estate and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the shortlists for the five categories of the Whitbread Costa Book Awards; the only title under review at the complete review is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.
The category-winners will be announced 4 January; the book of the year winner -- selected from the five category winners -- will be announced 26 January.
It's the big French literary prize season -- with the Goncourt, the biggest of them all, to be announced next Monday -- and at CNews they have a useful overview of what winning is actually worth, as several of the biggest have a small or even no cash-prize payout (the Goncourt pays out a symbolic €10; the Renaudot doesn't even bother with that) -- but winning the prize generally results in a very significant sales-boost.
It's in the extra sales that the big(ger) money is, and they report that between 2012 and 2016 the average Goncourt-winner shifted 345,000 copies, the Renaudot-winner 220,000; surprisingly the biggest sales bump is for the winner of the Goncourt des lycéens, which sold an average of 395,000 copies.
(A few of the prizes do pay out real money, but compared to other countries the money on offer is in the low range -- €10,000 apparently about as much as authors can expect.
The best-known American prizes are in the same range -- the Pulitzer at $15,000, the National Book Award at $10,000 -- but there are quite a few smaller prizes that pay out more, often a lot more.)
(Updated - 25 November): As a reader points out, the Goncourt really is/should be the big sales-helper -- and indeed data covering a different time-period (2014-2018) puts it ahead, with an average of 367,100 copies sold by the winner, ahead of the still strong showing by the Goncourt des lycéens winner (314,000 sold) and the surprisingly steady showing by the Renaudot (219,800 copies).
I suspect the study I originally cited was skewed by the phenomenal success of the 2012 Goncourt des lycéens winner -- Joël Dicker's The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate William Golding's 1984 novel, The Paper Men.
This was his first work published after he won the Nobel; fun to see the reviews from back then -- it did not go over very well. .
Golding is now the 46th Nobel laureate under review at the complete review.
They've announced the longlist for the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize -- "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader" --, twelve works: four novels and eight works of non-fiction; see also the Jewish Chroniclereport.
The shortlist will be announced in late January, and the winner at the end of February.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Walter Satterthwait's stand-alone 2003 mystery, Perfection.
This is one of those books that, while written in English, was published in translation before the original came out -- not just by a few weeks or months but by three years.
It also seems to have been more successful in that German translation than when it finally did come out in English.
(As you might recall, Satterthwait died earlier this year, so I've been getting to some of his books.)
I'm a few days late with this, but they've announced the winner of this year's Premio Cervantes, the leading Spanish-language author prize, and it is Spanish poet Francisco Brines.
There's a book on The Poetry of Francisco Brines -- see the Bucknell University Press publicity page -- but, amazingly, it doesn't look like there's any volume of his poetry available in English.
(Ten poems were published in the 1976 New Directions 32 anthology -- see their publicity page -- but he really does not seem to have made great inroads in the UK/US otherwise.)
The editors of The New York Times Book Review have selected their 100 Notable Books of 2020.
Remember that this is limited to books they have (or will) review -- i.e. a smattering of the many worthy titles out there -- but they do include quite a few books in translation, eleven this year (versus just three in 2019), with four alone translations from the Japanese.
Only five of the hundred titles are under review at the complete review -- all translations --, as I am also once again staggered by how many of these titles I haven't even seen .....:
(The Carrère seems an odd choice -- this had a US publication date of 5 November 2019 .....
(Yes, the NYTBR review appeared (in print) on 22 December 2019 -- within the past twelve months; still .....))
I haven't thought too much about my top books of the year -- for god's sakes, it's the middle of November, there's still tons of reading time ! -- and since I've gotten considerably fewer review copies this year than usual, even more of my reading and reviewing in 2020 has been backlist, but the one title I'm very surprised fell short here is Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
(As far as eligible (i.e. NYTBR-reviewed) translations go, Nino Haratischvili's The Eighth Life would have seemed a good fit, too.)
Journalist and author Jan Morris has passed away; see, for example, Veronica Horwell's obituary in The Guardian.
None of Morris' work is under review at the complete review but I was impressed by the ones I have read.
A fascinating writer -- and a fascinating life-story, too.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ignacy Krasicki's The Mouseiadand other Mock Epics, recently out from Glagoslav -- yet another of their amazing collections of classic Eastern European and Russian literature.
Krasicki's The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom came out from Northwestern University Press a while back, in their European Classics series -- see their publicity page -- but it's great to see these mock-epics available too.
Disappointing, however, that there's been so little coverage of this translation to date.