Literary Saloon

the literary
weblog at the
complete review

the weblog

about the saloon

support the site





to e-mail us:

literary weblogs:

  Books, Inq.
  Critical Mass
  Guardian Books
  The Millions
  NewPages Weblog
  Three Percent

  Rép. des livres

  Arts & Letters Daily
  The Millions
  The Rumpus
  Two Words

  See also: links page

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

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 30 October 2021

21 October: Cundill History Prize finalists | Canada at the Frankfurt Book Fair | Dune in Hebrew
22 October: Prémio Camões | New Asymptote | Silverview review
23 October: PW's best of the year lists | Tsitsi Dangarembga Q & A | Prix Émile Guimet longlist
24 October: Translation from ... Malayalam | Philosophische Notizbücher / Philosophical Notebooks review
25 October: Q & As: Fleur Jaeggy - Paul Auster | Forward Prizes
26 October: Amazon in France | Chinese Nebula Awards | Never review
28 October: Neustadt International Prize for Literature | Edward Bulwer-Lytton | French prizes | Looking for Gurnah
29 October: Warwick Prize longlist | Edogawa Ranpo profile | Gurnah's Nobel and African literature | French prizes
30 October: Astra profile | Park Kyung-ni Museum | A Guardian Angel Recalls review

go to weblog

return to main archive

30 October 2021 - Saturday

Astra profile | Park Kyung-ni Museum
A Guardian Angel Recalls review

       Astra profile

       At Publishers Weekly Ed Nawotka profiles publisher Astra Publishing House, in an article with the predictable headline, Astra Publishing House Reaches for the Stars.
       Astra was: "was established in early 2020 by Thinkingdom Media Group, a Beijing-based publishing conglomerate", and that's certainly ... interesting (and I am very curious whether that will have any ... ramifications in an America that has gotten very testy about Chinese influence and the like on home soil).
       While they've built on a big children's books backlist and now boast: "six very special children's book imprints", what looks particularly interesting is their Astra House imprint, "dedicated to publishing authors across genres and from around the world". (Astra House does have its own dedicated site, at, but in Chrome, for example, the: "Your connection is not private"-warning pops up, i.e. it is essentially unusable at this point.)
       They list some of the books coming from Astra House, but the ones I'm really excited about aren't listed there yet: a new book by Wang in Love and Bondage-author Wang Xiaobo, Golden Age, and Lydia Sandgren's Augustpriset-winning Collected Works (see also the Bonniers foreign rights page).
       I look forward to seeing their books; certainly a publisher to keep an eye on, for readers interested in international fiction.

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

       Park Kyung-ni Museum

       The Park Kyung-ri Memorial Hall has been around for a while, and covers the Korean author well -- check out the many pictures from this recent tour -- but now, as Park Han-sol reports in The Korea Times, Park Kyung-ni's Gangwon home becomes museum dedicated to literary giant; see also the official site.
       As Park Han-sol notes: "Park's name is most synonymous with the epic saga, "Land (Toji),"", and I use this occasion for your periodic reminder that we need to see a full English translation of this. (For some more information about Land see, e.g. Nan Haixian on A Masterpiece that Combines Literature and History: Land by Park Kyung-Ri at Korean Literature Now.)

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

       A Guardian Angel Recalls review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Willem Frederik Hermans' 1971 novel A Guardian Angel Recalls, now finally in English, from Archipelago (in the US) and Pushkin Press (in the UK).

       There is still far too little by Hermans -- one of the 'big three' of modern Dutch writers, along with Gerard Reve and Harry Mulisch -- translated into English, but Archipelago and, especially, Pushkin Press have certainly helped improve that situation in recent years.

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

29 October 2021 - Friday

Warwick Prize longlist | Edogawa Ranpo profile
Gurnah's Nobel and African literature | French prizes

       Warwick Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Warwick Prize for Women in Translation -- 17 titles selected from 115 entries.
       Several of the longlisted titles are under review at the complete review:        I have several more of these and I should get to some of them -- though probably not before the winner is announced, on 24 November (with a shortlist announcement squeezed in before then).

       The Warwick Prize is also exemplary in being a literary prize that, as all literary prizes should, provides a full list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of all the titles that were actually considered for the prize.
       This is, of course, also a great reference-list of books by women in translation that have recently come out in the UK, but most helpful in actually revealing what was considered, and what wasn't. It's outrageous that the vast majority of literary prizes keep this information secret.

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

       Edogawa Ranpo profile

       Edogawa Ranpo was a leading Japanese mystery writer, and at Ishikawa Takumi "examines the achievements and works of this unconventional writer", in Edogawa Ranpo's World of Mystery and Terror.
       Several of his works are under review at the complete review:        The traditional mystery stories are good and often clever fun, but Strange Tale of Panorama Island is a truly great work.

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

       Gurnah's Nobel and African literature

       At Annabelle Steffes-Halmer wonders Can the Nobel Prize "revitalise" African literature ? and I am pretty much only linking to that to shake my head and observe that African literature sure as hell looks pretty vitalized and lively from where I am sitting.
       Yes, Kossi Efoui does have a point when he's: "arguing that the West's limited recognition of African literature might also be because of a lack of accessibility" -- though that doesn't really seem to be the case with the works of the two authors who are the focus here, Gurnah and Tsitsi Dangarembga.
       Indeed, the only slightly disappointing thing about Gurnah getting the Nobel is that he is yet another English-writing longtime UK-resident and an academic (Coetzee, too, was a just-retired academic when he received the prize). Deserving as Gurnah is, one wishes the Swedish Academy would generally show themselves more open to perhaps looking deeper into Africa proper (and Southeast Asia, etc., too). But, yes, as Venice Trommer notes:
"Authors who live or have lived in the West naturally have better connections in publishing and have been published in European, American or even internationally in other linguistic contexts," Trommer said, adding that it is easier for them than for authors who live, work and write in Africa.
       Fingers crossed that the Swedish Academy doesn't now think that they've done Africa and can move on ...... (Though, of course, there remain so many under-acknowledged literatures on other continents as well (even Europe, where the Dutch can continue to gripe about being eternally overlooked).)

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

       French prizes

       Yes, there's French prize news every day these days, it seems .....
       They've now announced the shortlists for the prix Renaudot, the French number two, behind the Goncourt; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report -- where they note specifically that Amélie Nothomb's latest made the final four.
       The winner will be announced 3 November -- right after the Goncourt.
       Meanwhile, the Académie française has announced the winner of this year's Grand Prix du roman, and it is Mon maître et mon vainqueur, which squeaked by Gilles Martin-Chauffier's Le dernier tribun, ten votes to nine in the third round of voting. (I like the way French literary prizes often reveal how many votes the winners got.)

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

28 October 2021 - Thursday

Neustadt International Prize for Literature | Edward Bulwer-Lytton
French prizes | Looking for Gurnah

       Neustadt International Prize for Literature

       They've announced the winner of the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, a biennial prize that is one of the most prestigious international author prizes, and it is Boubacar Boris Diop -- author of The Knight and His Shadow, among other works.
       The Neustadt Prize is unusual in that it has the jurors each nominate one author they think is worthy; the 10-person jury then gets together and chooses from among these ten finalists which author will get the prize. (Diop was nominated by Jennifer Croft.)
       Diop will get to pick up the prize next year.

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

       Edward Bulwer-Lytton

       You don't hear much about Edward Bulwer-Lytton these days, and when you do it does tend to be framed around -- as also now here by April Snellings at Mental Floss -- The Strange History of the Worst Sentence in English Literature, but I can't resist pointing to even that; Bulwer-Lytton deserves to be better-known (and his work more highly regarded !).
       There are maybe ten authors whose works I've read 10,000 or more pages by, and Bulwer-Lytton is one of them. There is definitely some nineteenth century verbosity to some of it (My Novel -- whose narrator is named 'Pisistratus Caxton'), but he shows an incredible range in his work -- and, despite some overwriting (it isn't those famous opening words from Paul Clifford that are so *terrible*, it's the rest of the sentence (quoted in full in the Mental Floss piece)), a lot of it really is quite good.
       I say he's still worth digging out; certainly, he had a fascinating life and career.

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

       French prizes

       They've now announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the four finalists for this year's prix Goncourt -- the biggest of the French literary prizes -- and one of them is Le Voyage dans l'Est, by Christine Angot, which has just been awarded another of the major French literary prizes, the prix Médicis; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       The winner of the Goncourt will be announced on 3 November.

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

       Looking for Gurnah

       In The New York Times Alexandra Alter finds that: 'After Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, he instantly gained a wider international audience, something publishers are now scrambling to accommodate' in the not uncommon situation where He Won the Nobel. Why Are His Books So Hard to Find ?
       I'm still amazed that his Afterlives couldn't even find a US publisher (before now), even after being so widely praised in the UK. Even looking at the sales numbers for his previous publications, I would have thought it would have been worth the risk (and no doubt there are quite a few editors kicking themselves at having let it slip by when they could have had it (presumably) relatively cheaply).
       I always like seeing the numbers, depressing though some of them are:
The New Press, an independent American publisher, which released three of Gurnah’s books in the 1990s and 2000s, had 126 copies of his novel Paradise in the warehouse before the Nobel was announced, and it quickly sold out. It has received orders for more than 19,000 copies of Paradise -- which had sold just 5,763 copies since its release in 1994.

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

26 October 2021 - Tuesday

Amazon in France | Chinese Nebula Awards | Never review

       Amazon in France

       At Reuters Elizabeth Pineau reports on how France moves to shield its book industry from Amazon, as there's a new law ("adopted by parliament but not yet enacted") that seeks to level the playing field by setting a minimum price for book deliveries. Since discounting isn't permitted in France, this is one of the ways Amazon could still beat other retailers' pricing, as:
French law prohibits free book deliveries but Amazon has circumvented this by charging a single centime (cent). Local book stores typically charge about 5-7 euros ($5.82-8.15) for shipping a book.

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

       Chinese Nebula Awards

       At Zhang Rui reports on the latest Chinese Nebula Awards, in 'Crossing Saturn's Rings' wins China's top sci-fi award, as Xie Yunning's 穿越土星环 took the top prize.
       Jiang Qian's translation of James Gunn's Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction was named the best translated work.

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

       Never review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ken Follett's new thriller, Never.

       This surely is (or soon will be) the most best-selling book I've reviewed this year -- and, indeed, in a long time.

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

25 October 2021 - Monday

Q & As: Fleur Jaeggy - Paul Auster | Forward Prizes

       Q & A: Fleur Jaeggy

       At The New Yorker Dylan Byron has a lengthy Q & A 'with the reclusive author of Sweet Days of Discipline and The Water Statues about writing, silence, and the soul', in Fleur Jaeggy Thinks Nothing of Herself.

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

       Q & A: Paul Auster

       Paul Auster's latest book is Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane -- see the publicity pages from Henry Holt and Faber, or get your copy at or -- and in Forward Irene Katz Connelly now has (more or less) a Q & A with him, How Paul Auster writes doorstopper novels without touching a computer.

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

       Forward Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's Forward Prizes for Poetry, "the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland", with Notes on the Sonnets, by Luke Kennard, winning the best collection category.

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

24 October 2021 - Sunday

Translation from ... Malayalam
Philosophische Notizbücher / Philosophical Notebooks review

       Translation from ... Malayalam

       Two of the five finalists for the JCB Prize for Literature are translations -- and both are translations from the Malayalam. In The Hindu Saraswathy Nagarajan profiles the translators, in reporting that Malayalam literature translates into success stories.
       It's good to hear that:
With several publishers actively looking out for good writers in Malayalam, new works in Malayalam are reaching English readers soon after the book gets published in Malayalam, says Benyamin.
       Of course, not everything published in India is readily US/UK available -- but hopefully that too will change.

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

       Philosophische Notizbücher / Philosophical Notebooks review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the impressive bilingual edition of Kurt Gödel's Philosophische Notizbücher - Band 1: Philosophie I Maximen 0 / Philosophical Notebooks - Volume 1: Philosophy I Maxims 0.

       This is the first of fifteen planned volumes; the second one has also appeared already (see the De Gruyter publicity page), and I am lucky enough to have a copy; it looks even more interesting than this one. I was hoping to review both in quick succession, but it'll take me a liitle longer to properly deal with that one -- but review is forthcoming.

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

23 October 2021 - Saturday

PW's best of the year lists | Tsitsi Dangarembga Q & A
Prix Émile Guimet longlist

       PW's best of the year lists

       It's already October so of course it's time for ... best of the year lists ?
       Publishers Weekly at least has the excuse that they usually get to books long before the publication date and have actually already seen and/or reviewed more or less everything that has been or will be published in 2021, including the books coming out in the next two months, so their Best Books 2021 lists aren't as far-fetched as some.
       As usual, not too many of these are under review at the complete review, but I at least have two of their overall top 10 (the Ridgway and the Cusk), and have been meaning to get to them.
       Elsewhere, things look a bit better: I've reviewed three of their top fiction titles (yes, all works in translation):        Also: one on the Mystery/Thriller list (with the Le Tellier soon to follow -- it's not officially out yet):        And one in the nonfiction category:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Tsitsi Dangarembga Q & A

       At Deutsche Welle Annabelle Steffes-Halmer has a Q & A with this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade-winner Tsitsi Dangarembga: 'There is no freedom of expression in Zimbabwe'
       She will receive the prize tomorrow; se also my review of her Nervous Conditions.

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

       Prix Émile Guimet longlist

       They've announced the ten titles making up the longlist of the prix Émile Guimet de littérature asiatique, a prize for the best Asian works translated into French. (Despite the more ambitious schedule posted at the official site, they do seem only to have gotten around to picking the top ten now; the shortlist of five is due on 18 November.)
       Always interesting -- and somewhat envy-eliciting ... -- to see what gets translated into other languages ..... One of these was originally written in English (Djinn Patrol on the Purple Lin, by Deepa Anappara), and others have been translated into English (Oyamada Hiroko's The Factory and Geetanjali Shree's Tomb of Sand), but only other works by authors such as Okuda Hideo and Chi Ta-wei are available in English for now.

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

22 October 2021 - Friday

Prémio Camões | New Asymptote | Silverview review

       Prémio Camões

       They've announced the winner of this year's Prémio Camões, the leading Lusophone author prize, and it is Paulina Chiziane; see also the Portuguese-American Journal report, Honor: Writer Paulina Chiziane winner of the prestigious Camões Award.
       Archipelago brought out her The First Wife a few years ago, but that appears to be the only one of her works available in English.

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

       New Asymptote

       The October issue of Asymptote is now out -- lots of great material to keep you busy all weekend.
       Of particular interest in this issue: a series where 'Institutional Advocates Take Questions'.

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

       Silverview review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of John le Carré's posthumously published novel, Silverview.

       I hadn't read any John le Carré in a quarter of a century; I should probably check out some of those I've missed in the time since then.

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

21 October 2021 - Thursday

Cundill History Prize finalists | Canada at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Dune in Hebrew

       Cundill History Prize finalists

       They've announced the three finalists for this year's US$75,000 Cundill History Prize.
       The winner will be announced on 2 December.

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

       Canada at the Frankfurt Book Fair

       The Frankfurt Book Fair runs through the 24th, and Canada is the Guest of Honour this year; see also their official site, 'Singular Plurality'.
       For an overview, see Elizabeth Grenier reporting at Deutsche Welle on how Canada spotlights diversity at the Frankfurt Book Fair

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

       Dune in Hebrew

       In Tablet Raz Greenberg profiles translator Emanuel Lottem, in Is Dune Better in Hebrew ?
       It wouldn't be the first work of fiction improved in translation .....

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

previous entries (11 - 20 October 2021)

archive index

- search the site -

- return to top of the page -

© 2021 the complete review

the Complete Review
Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links