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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 March 2021

21 March: The Dutch Riveter | Translation in ... India
22 March: Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021) | Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021)
23 March: Windham-Campbell Prizes | Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique finalists | Translation in ... Slovakia | The Things We've Seen review
24 March: PEN America career achievement award winners | Premio Strega longlist | NSW Premier's Literary Awards shortlists | Walter Scott Prize shortlist
25 March: Nguyễn Huy Thiệp (1950-2021) | Rathbones Folio Prize | Stella Prize shortlist | Kawakami Mieko profile | The Measure of Time review
26 March: NBCC Awards | DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist | Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist | Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist | The Posthumous Works of Thomas Pilaster review
27 March: Larry McMurtry (1936-2021) | Beverly Cleary (1916-2021)
28 March: Books in ... Latvia | Ambai on translation | Tsitsi Dangarembga on Nervous Conditions
29 March: New Swedish Book Review | PEN dispute ? | Paul Theroux profile
30 March: Spring World Literature Today | IPAF shortlist | American Academy of Arts and Letters awards | Lady Joker (I) review
31 March: International Booker Prize longlist | OCM Bocas Prize category winners

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31 March 2021 - Wednesday

International Booker Prize longlist | OCM Bocas Prize category winners

       International Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's International Booker Prize, thirteen titles selected from 125 (unfortunately not revealed ...) submissions:
  • At Night All Blood is Black, by David Diop, tr. Anna Mocschovakis

  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, by Mariana Enríquez, tr. Megan McDowell

  • The Employees, by Olga Ravn, tr. Martin Aitken

  • I Live in the Slums, by Can Xue, tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping

  • In Memory of Memory, by Maria Stepanova, tr. Sasha Dugdale

  • An Inventory of Losses, by Judith Schalansky, tr. Jackie Smith

  • Minor Detail, by Adania Shibli, tr. Elisabeth Jaquette

  • The Pear Field, by Nana Ekvtimishvili, tr. Elizabeth Heighway

  • The Perfect Nine, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, translated by the author

  • Summer Brother, by Jaap Robben, tr. David Doherty

  • The War of the Poor, by Éric Vuillard, tr. Mark Polizzotti

  • When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut, tr. Adrian Nathan West

  • Wretchedness, by Andrzej Tichý, tr. Nichola Smalley
       No obvious favorite(s) for me at this point, but I haven't seen quite a few of these; I do hope to get to some more before the shortlist (22 April) and winner (2 June) are announced.

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



       OCM Bocas Prize category winners

       They've announced the three category winners for this year's OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and they are:
  • Fiction: These Ghosts Are Family, by Maisy Card
  • Non-fiction: The Undiscovered Country, by Andre Bagoo
  • Poetry: The Dyzgraphxst, by Canisia Lubrin
       The overall winner will now be chosen from these three, and announced 24 April

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



30 March 2021 - Tuesday

Spring World Literature Today | IPAF shortlist
American Academy of Arts and Letters awards | Lady Joker (I) review

       Spring World Literature Today

       The Spring/2021 issue of World Literature Today is now available, featuring: 'Redreaming Dreamland: 21 Writers & Artists Reflect on the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial' and a section on: 'Chinese Migrant Workers' Literature', as well as the usual features -- most notably and importantly, of course, the extensive book review section.
       As always, an enormous amount of material here, well worth your while.

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



       IPAF shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
       The winner will be announced 25 May, with funding to be provided for the translation of the winning title into English.

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



       American Academy of Arts and Letters awards

       The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the names of the eighteen writers who will receive its 2021 awards in literature, worth a total of US$600,000.
       The awards will be presented (virtually) on 19 May.

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



       Lady Joker (I) review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Takamura Kaoru's Lady Joker (I), just about out from Soho Press.

       This is actually only the first half of Takamura's epic 400,000-word 1997 Japanese crime novel, with Soho bringing out the second half next year. It is, in every sense, a lot -- so also my review, the longest I've posted so far this year -- and while some readers may want to wait until the whole thing is available, there's more than enough to it (except resolution ...) to satisfy. (Nevertheless: no grade at this point; I'll wait to judge it as a whole.)
       Great to see Soho publish translations of ambitious big books like this and Nakamura Fuminori's Cult X.

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



29 March 2021 - Monday

New Swedish Book Review | PEN dispute ? | Paul Theroux profile

       New Swedish Book Review

       The 2021:1 issue of the Swedish Book Review is out.
       Among the features: a roundtable on So How Was Your Year ? Selling Nordic Literature in 2020.
       Lots of translation-samples -- and, of particular interest, the usual batch of reviews of not-yet-translated titles.

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



       PEN dispute ?

       In The Observer Edward Helmore reports that: 'New manifesto of writers' association PEN accused by its US arm of backing 'cultural appropriation'', in Writers in culture war over rules of the imagination.
       The manifesto is The Democracy of the Imagination Manifesto -- "passed with unanimity" at the PEN International 85th World Congress in October 2019. But:
A spokesperson for PEN America told the Observer that the manifesto had not been explicitly rejected -- two members of PEN America helped draft it -- but "that does not necessarily indicate that we as PEN America formally endorse that action on behalf of our staff or board".

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



       Paul Theroux profile

       Among the April titles I'm most looking forward to is Paul Theroux's Under the Wave at Waimea -- my review should be up fairly soon -- and leading up to that Gal Beckerman profiles the author in The New York Times, in Would the Pandemic Stop Paul Theroux From Traveling ?

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



28 March 2021 - Sunday

Books in ... Latvia | Ambai on translation
Tsitsi Dangarembga on Nervous Conditions

       Books in ... Latvia

       Latvian Public Broadcasting reports on a recent Latvian National Library report, finding Book circulation in Latvia lowest in 30 years, as:
1805 books were published last year, with a total volume of 1,957,369 million copies, respectively 16.34% and 35.23% less than in 2019, the LNB said.
       (I assume by: "1,957,369 million" they simply mean "1,957,369", otherwise that would be ... a lot.)
       It'll be interesting to see how much of this decline can be attributed to the circumstances, and whether there will be a rebound in the coming years.

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



       Ambai on translation

       At Scroll.in they have: To pierce a mustard seed and let in seven oceans: Ambai on the art of translation.

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



       Tsitsi Dangarembga on Nervous Conditions

       As part of The Guardian's 'How I wrote'-series they have: 'I wrote it as a fugitive from what my life had become': Tsitsi Dangarembga on Nervous Conditions.
       See also my review of Nervous Conditions.

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



27 March 2021 - Saturday

Larry McMurtry (1936-2021) | Beverly Cleary (1916-2021)

       Larry McMurtry (1936-2021)

       American author Larry McMurtry -- probably best-known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove -- has passed away; see, for example, Dwight Garner's obituary in The New York Times, Alison Flood's Lonesome Dove author and Brokeback Mountain screenwriter Larry McMurtry dies at 84 in The Guardian, and Michael Granberry on Texas literary giant Larry McMurtry dies at 84 in the Dallas Morning News.
       McMurtry also ran Booked Up Inc., the huge Archer City bookstore that apparently still: "carries between 150,000 and 200,000 fine and scholarly books" -- and that's after he sold of a huge part of the stock in 2012.

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



       Beverly Cleary (1916-2021)

       Popular American children's book author Beverly Cleary has passed away; see, for example, the HarperCollins press release or William Grimes' obituary in The New York Times.

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



26 March 2021 - Friday

NBCC Awards | DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist
Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist | Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist
The Posthumous Works of Thomas Pilaster review

       NBCC Awards

       The (American) National Book Critics Circle has announced the winners of their 2020 awards, with Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell taking the fiction prize, and Marking Time by Nicole R. Fleetwood winning in the criticism category.

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



       DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's DUBLIN Literary Award, "the world's most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English".
       While books in translation are eligible for this award, only one was shortlisted, Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor.
       The winner will be announced 20 May.

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



       Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, a prize that: "rewards the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees".

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



       Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Dylan Thomas Prize, "awarded to the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under".
       The winner will be announced 13 May.

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



       The Posthumous Works of Thomas Pilaster review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Éric Chevillard's The Posthumous Works of Thomas Pilaster, just out from Sublunary Editions.

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



25 March 2021 - Thursday

Nguyễn Huy Thiệp (1950-2021) | Rathbones Folio Prize
Stella Prize shortlist | Kawakami Mieko profile
The Measure of Time review

       Nguyễn Huy Thiệp (1950-2021)

       Leading Viernamese author Nguyễn Huy Thiệp has passed away; see, for example, Thu Hue and Long Nguyen at VnExpress on how Vietnamese literary phenomenon Nguyen Huy Thiep leaves a void behind.
       At Mekong Review they have an edited excerpt from Thomas A. Bass' 2017 Censorship in Vietnam, Nguyen Huy Thiep.
       Several volumes of his stories have been published in English translation, including Crossing the River; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Rathbones Folio Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Rathbones Folio Prize, and it is In The Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado.
       See also the publicity pages from Graywolf Press and Serpent's Tail, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Stella Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Stella Prize, a prize: "celebrating Australian women's writing".
       The winner will be announced 22 April.

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



       Kawakami Mieko profile

       At nippon.com they have Kyoko Hasegawa's AFP profile of the Breasts and Eggs-author, Japan's Mieko Kawakami wants to 'stir things up'.

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



       The Measure of Time review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gianrico Carofiglio's The Measure of Time, the sixth in his Guido Guerrieri-series, just out in English from Bitter Lemon Press.

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



24 March 2021 - Wednesday

PEN America career achievement award winners | Premio Strega longlist
NSW Premier's Literary Awards shortlists | Walter Scott Prize shortlist

       PEN America career achievement award winners

       PEN America has announced this year's career achievement award winners.
       Among the winners: Anne Carson will receive the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, and Pierre Joris will receive the PEN/Manheim Award for Translation.

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



       Premio Strega longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Premio Strega, the leading Italian literary prize. Twelve titles, selected from (only) sixty-two submitted works.
       The five finalists will be revealed 10 June, and the winner on 8 July.

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



       NSW Premier's Literary Awards shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's NSW Premier's Literary Awards in its ten categories; unfortunately the presentation of these on the official site is somewhat unwieldy. You can find all the shortlisted titles more conveniently on the official press release -- but that's only available in the dreaded pdf format.
       Beside the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, prizes include the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting and the Multicultural NSW Award -- and this is one of the year's the biennial NSW Translation Prize is being awarded.
       The winners will be announced 26 April.

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



       Walter Scott Prize shortlist

       They've announced the five-title strong shortlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
       Two of the finalists -- A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams -- were also named finalists for the Christina Stead Prize today, while the latest Hilary Mantel is also in the running.

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



23 March 2021 - Tuesday

Windham-Campbell Prizes | Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique finalists
Translation in ... Slovakia | The Things We've Seen review

       Windham-Campbell Prizes

       They've announced this year's eight winners -- two in each of four categories: poetry, fiction, non, and drama -- of the Windham-Campbell Prizes -- worth US$165,000 apiece.
       The fiction winners are Dionne Brand and Renee Gladman.

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



       Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique finalists

       They've announced the six finalists for this year's prix Orange du Livre en Afrique -- a prize for the best novel written in French by an African author that is published by an Africa-based publisher.
       It's that last requirement that is particularly impressive: Francophone writing is still dominated by French and especially Parisian publishers, and it's great to see this sort of support and recognition for African publishers. Impressively, six different publishers are represented this year.

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



       Translation in ... Slovakia

       At the the Asymptote blog Julia Sherwood has a Q & A with Barbara Sigmundová and Gabriela Magová, Raising the Profile of Slovak Translation: An Interview with the Founders of DoSlov.
       DoSlov is a translators' and editors' organisation -- the kind of national organization that should be more widespread.

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



       The Things We've Seen review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Agustín Fernández Mallo's The Things We've Seen, just out from Fitzcarraldo Editions.

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



22 March 2021 - Monday

Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021) | Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021)

       Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021)

       Egyptian author Nawal El Saadawi has passed away; see, for example, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman's BBC report, Nawal El Saadawi: Feminist firebrand who dared to write dangerously. See also, for example, Raschel Cooke's 2015 profile in The Observer
       El Saadawi was a tremendously important figure and author -- included on Time's list of the most influential women of the past century, for example -- and published a large number of works, many of which are available in English, especially from Zed and Saqi. See, for example, Woman at Point Zero -- see the Zed publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       I have to admit that I never fared well with her fiction; I have read quite a bit of her work, but practically none since I started the site, which is why none is under review at the complete review.

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



       Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021)

       Polish poet and author Adam Zagajewski has passed away; see, for example, Grzegorz Nurek's (Polish) piece in Wyborcza.
       Much of his work was translated into English, and he won the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. See also the good overview at Culture.pl.

       Three of Zagajewski's works are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



21 March 2021 - Sunday

The Dutch Riveter | Translation in ... India

       The Dutch Riveter

       At the European Literature Network the new issue of The Riveter is up -- Writing from the Netherlands. Yes, only in the dreaded pdf format, but an impressive 116 pages of content -- essays, reviews, poetry, and excerpts, all in all a great look at the contemporary Dutch scene.

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



       Translation in ... India

       In The Print Rachel John finds that The real crisis in Indian literature is the translation pyramid. Bangla sits at the top.

       An interesting article -- and I appreciate being pointed to the Translation Today archive; certainly a lot here that's of interest as well. (Also: disappointing to learn that what sounded like a great concept, the Writers & Translators Association India: "is currently on hold due to, well, a lack of sufficient interest from Indian writers and translators".)

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



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