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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 17 January 2021

11 January: Ved Mehta (1934-2021) | Nobel archive (not-yet-)opening | The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata review
12 January: Coming in 2021 | Bestselling in the US in 2020 | Barbara Epler Q & A | The Dark Domain review
13 January: Banipal Prize | Dædalus online | The bookseller of Kabul
14 January: Vassilis Alexakis (1943-2021) | Thebes at War review
15 January: Swiss Literature Awards | Al Saqi Books profile | Literature in ... Bhutan
16 January: Grand prix de la Francophonie | Top online reads in China | 'Breaking Down the Bestselling Books of 2020'
17 January: Icelandic Book Prize preview | Adivasi literature

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17 January 2021 - Sunday

Icelandic Book Prize preview | Adivasi literature

       Icelandic Book Prize preview

       They announced the finalist for the 2020 Icelandic Book Prize last month, and now at The Reykjavík Grapevine Valur Grettisson has a preview of the prizes, which will be announced in a couple of weeks, Reading Too Much Into The Icelandic Book Prize Nominees 2021. (It does seem that these are the 2020 prizes, however.)
       The finalists, in three categories (fiction, non, and children's literature), were selected from 280 submissions.
       One of the fiction finalists, Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson's Snerting -- see the Forlagið publicity page -- actually came out in English translation a couple of years ago already, as One Station Away; see the Ecco publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
       Another finalist is by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir -- who won the 2016 Icelandic Book Prize for Hotel Silence. It's interesting to hear that while her The Greenhouse was nominated for the Nordic Council Book Prize in 2009, it wasn't nominated for this prize that year:
Her sales in Iceland were actually quite low compared to her acclaim abroad, which perhaps explains her absence from the list, but the snub was still a scandal.

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



       Adivasi literature

       At The Caravan Akash Poyam suggests Ten voices from Adivasi literature -- a useful overview, even if not very accessible to English-speaking readers at this point.

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



16 January 2021 - Saturday

Grand prix de la Francophonie | Top online reads in China
'Breaking Down the Bestselling Books of 2020'

       Grand prix de la Francophonie

       The Académie Française has announced the winner of this year's €30,000 Grand Prix de la Francophonie, and it is Lebanese author Alexandre Najjar; see also the Livres Hebdo report.
       Several of his works have been translated into English; see the author page at Saqi Books.

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



       Top online reads in China

       At Sixth Tone Cai Xuejiao and Chen Qi'an summarize an iiMedia report, in Here Are the Top Reads From China's $5 Billion Online Literature Market.
       Yes, online reading and publishing is a big industry in China; I always wonder whether this sort of thing will catch on anywhere else to anywhere near this extent.

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



       'Breaking Down the Bestselling Books of 2020'

       An interesting look at the most successful books (and publishers) in the US market last year, as Liz Hartman goes about Breaking Down the Bestselling Books of 2020 at Publishers Weekly.
       Despite the dominance of the so-called 'Big Five' in American publishing, independents had a good showing, at least in this area.

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



15 January 2021 - Friday

Swiss Literature Awards | Al Saqi Books profile
Literature in ... Bhutan

       Swiss Literature Awards

       They've announced the (national) Swiss Literature Awards for 2021 -- seven for individual works, as well as the big (author) prize, the CHF40,000 Grand Prix suisse de littérature, which goes to Frédéric Pajak; see also the swissinfo.ch report, Frédéric Pajak wins top Swiss literature prize.
       New York Review Books published his Uncertain Manifesto not too long ago -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk --; I have a copy and will try to get to it.

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



       Al Saqi Books profile

       In The National Jamie Prentis profiles Al Saqi Books, in Something in the water: the compelling tales of London's oldest Arabic bookstore.

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



       Literature in ... Bhutan

       At Scroll.in Siok Sian Pek-Dorji reports on More reading, and even more listening: How the pandemic has affected literature in Bhutan.

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



14 January 2021 - Thursday

Vassilis Alexakis (1943-2021) | Thebes at War review

       Vassilis Alexakis (1943-2021)

       Greek-French author -- yes, he wrote works both in French and Greek -- Vassilis Alexakis has passed away; see, for example, Tasos Kokkinidis' report in Greek Reporter, Greek Writer and Journalist Vassilis Alexakis Dies at 77; obviously, there's also a lot coverage in the French media.

       Alexakis is woefully under-translated into English, but a bit of his work is available -- his novel Foreign Words for example; see the Autumn Hill publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Thebes at War review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of another of Naguib Mahfouz's early historical novels, Thebes at War.

       That is the twenty-eighth work by Mahfouz under review at the complete review -- but I still have so many to get to !

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



13 January 2021 - Wednesday

Banipal Prize | Dædalus online | The bookseller of Kabul

       Banipal Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it is Kay Heikkinen's translation of Velvet by Huzama Habayeb.
       See also the Hoopoe publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       The prize will be awarded 11 February, along with the other Society of Authors Translation Prizes.

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



       Dædalus online

       What great, great news: "In January 2021, Dædalus became an Open Access journal". They're still working on digitizing the back catalog, but eventually all this great material will be freely accessible.
       Some of it already is -- like the new Winter 2021 issue, 'On the Novel', edited by Michael Wood. Lots of things that look worth a closer read, including: Simon D. Goldhill arguing for Finding the Time for Ancient Novels, Robyn Creswell on Poets in Prose: Genre & History in the Arabic Novel, and Two Theories by Franco Moretti.
       A good-looking issue (on a topic of obvious interest ...), but that whole archive will be something to return to again and again .....

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



       The bookseller of Kabul

       At Scroll.in Selina Sheth profiles Shah M Book Co-bookseller Shah Muhammed Rais -- yes, the The Bookseller of Kabul -- in For this bookseller of Kabul, the pandemic was a blip in a country afflicted by long-term war.
       Certainly an interesting story.

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



12 January 2021 - Tuesday

Coming in 2021 | Bestselling in the US in 2020
Barbara Epler Q & A | The Dark Domain review

       Coming in 2021

       The Millions has now posted their Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2021 Book Preview -- 152 titles to look forward to.
       Meanwhile, at Vulture they present 46 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021.
       Certainly some titles of interest here -- but there's a lot more coming out .....

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



       Bestselling in the US in 2020

       At Publishers Weekly John Maher has the numbers -- the top twenty-five bestselling titles in the US in 2020, along with the number of copies sold (as reported by NPD BookScan).
       Barack Obama's A Promised Land was the only title to shift over 2,000,000 copies, and six more titles shifted over a million each. None of the top twenty-five are under review at the complete review.

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



       Barbara Epler Q & A

       At the World Literature Today blog Veronica Esposito has a Q & A with the longtime New Directions publisher, in “Lusting after a Tart of Peacock Tongues”: A Conversation with Publisher Barbara Epler -- a good look at the changing publishing scene, especially regarding work in translation, in the US over the past twenty-five years.

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



       The Dark Domain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Stefan Grabiński's collection about The Dark Domain, recently re-issued by Dedalus.

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



11 January 2021 - Monday

Ved Mehta (1934-2021) | Nobel archive (not-yet-)opening
The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata review

       Ved Mehta (1934-2021)

       Indian-born author Ved Mehta has passed away; see, for example, Margalit Fox's obituary in The New York Times, Ved Mehta, Celebrated Writer for The New Yorker, Dies at 86, as well as the notice in The New Yorker.

       I read the first few installments of his twelve-volume memoirs -- it was a pretty fascinating life -- many, many years ago but never saw it through; predictably, the one Mehta title under review at the complete review is his novel, Delinquent Chacha.

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



       Nobel archive (not-yet-)opening

       One of the fun traditions at the start of every year is that the Swedish Academy opens the archives regarding the deliberations about the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature from fifty years earlier; this is where we learn who had been nominated for the prize (and by whom), and who the choice came down to (as well as some of the reasons the eventual winner came out top). This year we are due to learn about the 1970 prize, which went to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn -- but, as you will have noticed, we haven't heard anything yet .....
       Usually, the archive is opened in the first days of January. This year, however, -- presumably in no small part because of the COVID-problem (closing the Nobel Library, among much else) -- they've announced they're postponing the big reveal, until (at least) the first of February; that is, for now, the provisional date for the opening; tune back in then .....

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



       The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gina Apostol's The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata.

       Originally published -- in the Philippines, where it won the National Book Award -- in 2009, this is the first time it has been published outside the Philippines, in a revised edition, just out from Soho Press.
       Also: I really, really have to get around to reviewing José Rizal's Noli Me Tangere. (His El Filibusterismo has long been under review at the site, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of the Penguin Classics edition (Harold Augenbraum's new -- well, 2006 -- translation) -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

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



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