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the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review
opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 16 October 2021

11 October: Seoul International Writers' Festival | Ahab (Sequels) review
12 October: Feminism in Urdu literature | Lemon review
13 October: Abdulrazak Gurnah reactions | Leo-Perutz-Preis | Be as Children review
14 October: K-Lit in Japan | Sally Rooney (not) in Israel
15 October: Shortlists: GGs - Österreichischer Buchpreis - T.S.Eliot Prize | Chi Ta-wei Q & A
16 October: Premio Planeta | Gordon Burn Prize | The Daughter of Time review

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16 October 2021 - Saturday

Premio Planeta | Gordon Burn Prize | The Daughter of Time review

       Premio Planeta

       They announced the winner of this year's Premio Planeta de Novela last night, but earlier in the day they already dropped a bombshell about this prize which has long been by far the richest single-book-prize going: while they've paid out €601,000 to the winner in recent years, they've now topped-up the prize money, with the winner from now on getting a cool million. Very cool -- at yesterday's exchange rate that's about US$1,160,000 (or about 116 times what an American National Book Award winner-gets, or 77 times what a Pulitzer Prize-winner collects), and, at least this year, that's more than the Nobel Prize pays out. (The euro/dollar value of the krona-denominated Nobel varies year to year, depending on the exchange rate.) See, for example, the El Mundo report.

       Manuscripts for the prize are often submitted under pseudonyms -- among this year's finalists, pseudonyms included: 'Yuri Zhivago' and 'El Arlequinado' -- and this was also the case for the winning title, submitted as Ciudad de fuego by 'Sergio López'. It turns out there's a well-known name behind Sergio López -- Carmen Mola, who has published several popular books in Spanish (none of which appear to have been translated into English yet); see, for example the Hanska agency information page, or 'her' official site. But ... 'Carmen Mola' is, itself, a pseudonym ! And the three -- yes, three -- authors behind the name revealed themselves for the first time with the Premio Planeta win: Jorge Díaz, Antonio Mercero, and Agustín Martínez. So they'll have to divide the (record) prize money by three .....
       Not only was the name they submitted the manuscript under fake, so was the title: it will be published as La bestia.
       See also, for example, the EFE report, El Planeta del millón de euros acaba con el secreto de Carmen Mola.

       The winner was selected from 654 entries, including 13 from the US, 2 from Israel, 1 from Romaina, and 389 from Spain. There was only 1 entry from Cuba, but 39 from Mexico, 41 from Argentina, and 18 from Colombia.

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

       Gordon Burn Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Gordon Burn Prize -- which celebrates: "those who follow in Gordon Burn's footsteps by recognising literature that is fearless in both ambition and execution" --, and it is the essay-collection A Little Devil in America, by Hanif Abdurraqib.

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

       The Daughter of Time review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Josephine Tey's classic mystery, The Daughter of Time.

       This regularly features high on 'top mysteries of all times'-lists -- including the top spot on the 1990 Crime Writers' Association list of the top 100 crime novels of all time.

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

15 October 2021 - Friday

Shortlists: GGs - Österreichischer Buchpreis - T.S.Eliot Prize
Chi Ta-wei Q & A

       Shortlists: GGs

       The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the shortlists for this year's Governor General's Literary Awards, one of the leading Canadian literary prizes.
       There are fourteen categories, seven each in English and French.
       The winners will be announced on 17 November -- the same day as the American National Book Awards ceremony .....

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

       Shortlist: Österreichischer Buchpreis

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Austrian Book Prize -- and one of the five titles is already under review at the complete review: Raphaela Edelbauer's Dave.
       The winner will be announced 8 November.

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

       Shortlist: T.S.Eliot Prize

       They've announced the (not-so-)shortlist for this year's T.S.Eliot Prize, a leading poetry prize, ten titles selected from 177 submissions.
       The winner will be announced 10 January 2022.

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

       Chi Ta-wei Q & A

       At The Paris Reviews's The Daily Chris Littlewood has Never Prosthetic: An Interview with Chi Ta-wei.

       See also my review of Chi Ta-wei's excellent novel, The Membranes.

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

14 October 2021 - Thursday

K-Lit in Japan | Sally Rooney (not) in Israel

       K-Lit in Japan

       In the United States, (South) Korean literature hasn't achieved the popularity of K-pop or Korean movies and TV shows -- Squid Game etc. -- yet, but it definitely has taken off quite a bit over the past decade or so. Closer to home now, Kawakatsu Miki reports at After K-Pop, K-Lit ? Why Young Korean Writers Are Creating a Stir in Japanese Publishing.

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

       Sally Rooney (not) in Israel

       I had not thought that Sally Rooney (or any author) could possibly get more (over-heated) press coverage, good and bad, than she recently has after the publication of her new, very bestselling novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, but oh how wrong I was .....
       As you've no doubt heard, Rooney has, as she puts it: "for the moment, chosen not to sell these translation rights [for Beautiful World, Where Are You] to an Israeli-based publishing house"; you can find her full statement here, for example.
       This has ... elicited reactions.
       No way am I weighing in on this, thank you very much, but I am impressed by how quickly everyone seems to have formed an opinion (and, in most cases, published it), and obviously it's a 'big' story; if you do want to wade in, here are some links:
       [Note: links are not to be considered endorsements of the opinions or the framing of the facts and/or arguments in these pieces. I've collected what I could find and thought might be of interest; I'm sure I've missed many insightful takes and the fact that that (or your) perceptive piece/take is not linked to should be considered an oversight, or attributed to hitting paywalls, or simply my laziness or carelessness; any and all snubs are not intentional.]        And for some laughs (okay, yes, I do presume to judge at least this piece ...), check out Harriet Johnston's *thorough* spin on/take-down of Rooney in the Daily Mail with the breathless and very, very long headline, Normal Marxists ! How Sally Rooney loaded bestselling books with communist ideas -- from saying the 'world's beauty died with the fall of the Soviet Union' to money being a 'social construct'.
       Shocking !

       About any and all of this: no e-mails, please; thank you.

       Oh, yes, also: I haven't read or reviewed (or indeed seen) any Sally Rooney titles (or TV-miniseries adaptations), but if you're interested in Beautiful World, Where Are You, see the official site, or the publicity pages at Faber and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, or get your copy at or (It's also been widely -- to say the least -- reviewed.)

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

13 October 2021 - Wednesday

Abdulrazak Gurnah reactions | Leo-Perutz-Preis
Be as Children review

       Abdulrazak Gurnah reactions

       Last week, they announced that Abdulrazak Gurnah will get this year's Nobel Prize in Literature -- see also my mention -- and there have been a fair number of reactions now. Some of interest include:        See now also David Shariatmadari's profile in The Guardian, ‘I could do with more readers!’ – Abdulrazak Gurnah on winning the Nobel prize for literature.

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


       The Leo Perutz Prize is a prize for the best Viennese mystery -- named after the great Leo Perutz; see, for example, the Pushkin Press editions -- and they've now announced this year's winner: Alle kleinen Tiere, by Anne Goldmann; see also the Argumente publicity page.

       This is a nice little local prize -- and one of the previous winners, by Alex Beer, has been translated into English; see the Eruopa Editions publicity page -- but what struck me is that it is funded: "mit freundlicher Unterstützung der Bestattung Wien". That's the municipal undertaker -- as in funerary service provider. Friendly support indeed .....

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

       Be as Children review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vladimir Sharov's Be as Children, just out from Dedalus Books.

       Great to see Dedalus continuing to bring out his work -- here's hoping that Царство Агамемнона ('The Kingdom of Agamemnon') is next.

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

12 October 2021 - Tuesday

Feminism in Urdu literature | Lemon review

       Feminism in Urdu literature

       In The Express Tribune's T-Magazine Shazia Tasneem has a Q & A: "about feminism in Urdu literature with poet Dr Nuzhat Abbasi", in The 'F' factor in Urdu literature.

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

       Lemon review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kwon Yeo-sun's Lemon, out from Other Press in the US and Head of Zeus in the UK.

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

11 October 2021 - Monday

Seoul International Writers' Festival | Ahab (Sequels) review

       Seoul International Writers' Festival

       This year's Seoul International Writers' Festival, with a theme of 'Awakening', opened on Friday and runs through the 24th; there's a solid list of participants. Apparently, it is a hybrid online/in-person event this year.
       See also previews in The Korea Herald (Seoul International Writers' Festival to shed light on literature's role in post-pandemic era, by Kim Hae-yeo) and The Korea Times (Seoul Int'l Writers' Festival to kick off next week, by Park Han-sol.)

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

       Ahab (Sequels) review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pierre Senges' Melville-variation-novel, Ahab (Sequels), coming from Contra Mundum Press.

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

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