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


The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 July 2022

21 July: Akutagawa and Naoki prizes | Miles Franklin Literary Award | Casablanca Story review
22 July: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year | Publishing in 'Web3' | Out of This World review
23 July: Literary prizes in the UK | Abdulrazak Gurnah's 'The books of my life'
24 July: Onitsha Market Literature
25 July: PEN America at 100 exhibit | Shishkin on Russian culture | Running Blind review
26 July: Gerald Murnane profile | Literary estates | Invasion of the Spirit People review
27 July: Booker Prize longlist | Rathbones Folio Prize format change | Yuri Andrukhovych Q & A | Julian Barnes on ... books
28 July: Literature from ... Taiwan | AI translation | Yoga review
29 July: The New York Times names new Books editor | Armory Square Prize | Witness to the Future review
30 July: New Asymptote | New Hungarian books
31 July: Tomb of Sand complaint | Bullet Train - the movie

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31 July 2022 - Sunday

Tomb of Sand complaint | Bullet Train - the movie

       Tomb of Sand complaint

       So, as for example the PTI report has it, Booker winner Geetanjali Shree's event cancelled in Agra after complaint against her, as some self-important bozo: "has filed the complaint against the writer. In the complaint, he has blamed Geetanjali Shree for alleged objectionable comments on Lord Shiva and mother Parvati" in her novel, Tomb of Sand .
       Apparently even just a complaint -- very late in the day, no less; the novel has been out in Hindi since 2018 ... -- is enough to scare everyone into silence. Frustrating.
       Abhik Deb's Scroll.in report reports:
The police said that they will read the book before deciding on whether to file a FIR [first information report].
       So at least more people will be reading the novel.

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



       Bullet Train - the movie

       The movie version of Isaka Kōtarō's Bullet Train will be out (in the US) later this week -- see, for example, the official site -- and in The New York Times Motoko Rich profiles The Japanese Author Behind ‘Bullet Train’ Is OK That the Film Isn’t So Japanese. (I'm not sure why he wouldn't be; I assume he was remunerated well and, hey, they got Brad Pitt to be in it; yes, "the movie bears little resemblance to real life" but, come on, neither does the book.)
       Among the interesting bits from the piece:
With Isaka’s work all but unknown to English-language readers, Yuma Terada and Ryosuke Saegusa, the founders of CTB, a film production and literary agency that represents Isaka, consolidated the copyrights to his novels and commissioned translations of a handful of them, hoping to pitch him as a literary cousin to Murakami
       (All but unknown, maybe -- but readers of the complete review have been aware of his Remote Control since 2011, when I reviewed it .....)
       I'm looking forward to seeing his Three Assassins, already out in the UK and coming to the US later this year.

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



30 July 2022 - Saturday

New Asymptote | New Hungarian books

       New Asymptote

       The July issue of Asymptote is now online -- more than enough reading material for the weekend.

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



       New Hungarian books

       At hlo they've now posted the second of their two summer round-ups, so with both New Books in Hungarian - Summer 2022 I. and now New Books in Hungarian - Summer 2022 II. online you've got a nice overview of major new publications.
       Let's hope we eventually get to see some of these in translation.

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



29 July 2022 - Friday

The New York Times names new Books editor
Armory Square Prize | Witness to the Future review

       The New York Times names new Books editor

       It took quite a few months, but The New York Times has finally filled the position vacated by Pamela Paul, naming a new Books editor, now announcing: Gilbert Cruz Is Our Next Books Editor.
       Apparently:
Now he’ll move to Books to focus his energies on three important pillars of coverage. The first is to reimagine The New York Times Book Review, the nation’s last stand-alone newspaper book-review section, for the digital age. The second is to increase and embolden our reporting on and criticism of ideas and intellectual life, the publishing world and all that lives within it. And the third is to build new muscles in service journalism that will help our readers choose their next books with ease and joy.
       Not sure about some of this language -- "build new muscles in service journalism" ? really ? -- and, of course, I am always concerned when I hear about reïmagining-efforts (of any sort ...), but I guess we will see .....

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



       Armory Square Prize

       They've announced a new prize, the Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation.-- open to:
Any previously unpublished book-length work of narrative prose, fiction or nonfiction, including story collections, written by a South Asian author (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, or part of the diaspora), living or dead.
       Open Letter will publish the winning title.
       Among the judging-criteria is the: "Relative degree of underrepresentation of the original language" !
       The jury is about as impressive as pone could wish for, so this is certainly a prize to keep an eye on.

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



       Witness to the Future review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Klaus Rifbjerg's 1981 novel, Witness to the Future, in Steven T. Murray's 1987 translation, published by his and his wife Tiina Nunnally's Fjord Press.

       Despite Rifbjerg's popularity in Denmark, not much of his work has been translated into English -- though Norvik Press did bring out his Terminal Innocence in 2015; see their publicity page.

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



28 July 2022 - Thursday

Literature from ... Taiwan | AI translation | Yoga review

       Literature from ... Taiwan

       In the Taiwan News Casey Ho reports on how Taiwan literature faces different publishing climates in Europe.

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



       AI translation

       The University of Massachusetts Amherst reports on US$822,365 grant awarded to Mohit Iyyer for work on AI translation "especially when the original versions were published in a non-Romance language and written with a high-literary sensibility", in Lost In Translation: A New Approach to AI Navigates World Literature, as:
Over the next two years, Iyyer and his team will build an online platform that hosts a wide range of previously untranslated novels, which will be available in English thanks to an AI model that his team will develop. These translations will be interactive, and readers will be able to highlight sections of text that they think are incorrect and propose alternatives that read more smoothly. Another AI model -- a post-editing model -- will collect these user-generated corrections and update the AI translational model with them. It’s a way for the AI translation model to “learn.”
       I look forward to hearing how this works out.

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



       Yoga review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the latest by Emmanuel Carrère, Yoga, now also out in the US.

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



27 July 2022 - Wednesday

Booker Prize longlist | Rathbones Folio Prize format change
Yuri Andrukhovych Q & A | Julian Barnes on ... books

       Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Booker Prize, the leading English-language novel prize, selected from 169 (unfortunately not revealed ...) titles.
       I've only seen (and read) one of these; I did not take to it and did not review it.
       There are several titles I am curious about -- notably The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, which just narrowly slipped in the previously-published-outside-the-UK grace period for eligibility, having come out in India in January 2020. It originally came out under a different title: Chats with the Dead -- but then his Chinaman was published under a different title in the US as well, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew. (Have I mentioned how much I dislike this re-titling practice is, and how baffled I am that this kind of thing still goes on ?)
       (Updated): Publisher Sort of Books alerts us that The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is, in fact, not identical to Chats with the Dead, but rather a revised, (re-)edited version of the text. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

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



       Rathbones Folio Prize format change

       With rather poor timing, the Rathbones Folio Prize has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) a change in its format: picking up where the recently retired Whitbread Costa Book Awards left off. they will now be naming a four-title shortlist in three categories -- fiction, non, and poetry -- with the category winners then pitted against each other for the big prize.
       Quite a wait until the first shortlists are announced: expect them in early 2023.

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



       Yuri Andrukhovych Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Kate Tsurkan has a Q & A with the Perverzion-author, in “Writers Are the Middlemen Between the Human Race and Immortality”: A Conversation with Yuri Andrukhovych.
       They mainly talk about Radio Nights -- not yet available in English, but see, for example, the Suhrkamp foreign rights page.

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



       Julian Barnes on ... books

       PEN Transmissions now has a version of a speech Julian Barnes gave at the recent Christie's auction, First Editions, Second Thoughts,: "on reading books, collecting books, and annotating books" -- Books, Books, Books.
       Barnes admits that:
I have been a book reader, a book buyer, a book sniffer, a book collector and, in recent times, a regretful book discarder
       The piece is also noteworthy in that it uses the word: 'especial' ("I wouldn't take especial umbrage if you started one of my books, decided it wasn't for you, and transferred your attention to someone else's book"); that's not a term you see used much any more.

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



26 July 2022 - Tuesday

Gerald Murnane profile | Literary estates
Invasion of the Spirit People review

       Gerald Murnane profile

       In The New Yorker Merve Emre profiles The Reclusive Giant of Australian Fiction -- Gerald Murnane.
       Several Murnane titles are under review at the complete review:        I also have several more, and expect to get to some of them soon.
       Meanwhile: read Barley Patch !

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



       Literary estates

       At The Bookseller Rod Smith writes on one of my favorite subjects -- literary estates and executors --, in Whose legacy is it anyway ?
       Not sure I agree that:
The candidate for the role of literary executor must understand your wishes in the form of the guidelines. They should positively challenge you on them where necessary. Most of all they need to be alive to the opportunities and be prepared where necessary to interpret your wishes in the light of the prevailing circumstances, circumstances which might not have been in your contemplation at the time of setting down the guidelines.
       I worry a great deal when executors (or pretty much anyone ...) start 'interpreting' -- but, certainly, authors should make as clear as possible how they want their (literary) legacies handled.
       (See also me on Weighing Words Over Last Wishes, from way back when.)

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



       Invasion of the Spirit People review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the latest by Juan Pablo Villalobos, Invasion of the Spirit People, just out from And Other Stories.

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



25 July 2022 - Monday

PEN America at 100 exhibit | Shishkin on Russian culture | Running Blind review

       PEN America at 100 exhibit

       The exhibit PEN America at 100: A Century of Defending the Written Word has opened at the New York Historical Society, and runs through 9 October; see also Ed Nawotka's report in Publishers Weekly, PEN America Marks 100 Years.
       And see, of course, the PEN America site.

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



       Shishkin on Russian culture

       Maidenhair-author Mikhail Shishkin makes the case for Russian culture -- despite current circumstances -- in Don't Blame Dostoyevsky.
       He notes:
The Russian state has no use for Russian culture unless it can be made to serve the state.
       (Which can probably be said for most states .....)

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



       Running Blind review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Child's Running Blind -- published in the UK as The Visitor --, the fourth Jack Reacher novel (from way back in 2000).

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



24 July 2022 - Sunday

Onitsha Market Literature

       Onitsha Market Literature

       In Vanguard Maxim Uzoatu goes about Toasting Babes with Onitsha Market Literature.

       Quite a few works of Onitsha market literature ae under review at the complete review; the anthology edited by Kurt Thometz, Life Turns Man Up and Down, is a good place to start.

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



23 July 2022 - Saturday

Literary prizes in the UK | Abdulrazak Gurnah's 'The books of my life'

       Literary prizes in the UK

       In the New Statesman Ellen Peirson-Hagger wonders Why are so many literary prizes closing ? in the UK.

       She does ... note: "Other countries such as France and the US have state-funded literary prizes" -- rather odd choices, as France and the US are actually unusual in that the leading literary prizes in those countries (Goncourt, Pulitzer, National Book Award, etc.) are, in fact, not run (or funded -- beyond, in the US, being taxpayer-subsidized (being run by so-called 'non-profit'-organizations)) by the government.
       It should also be noted that, despite several prizes losing funding and others being in danger of shutting down, there are still a hell of a lot of them out there, in the UK and elsewhere.

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



       Abdulrazak Gurnah's 'The books of my life'

       The latest in The Guardian's 'The books of my life'-series is Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah's contribution.
       Always a fun exercise.

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



22 July 2022 - Friday

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
Publishing in 'Web3' | Out of This World review

       Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

       They've announced the winner of this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and it is Slough House, the latest in Mick Herron's series.
       I haven't seen any in this series, but it does sound like a lot of fun; see also the publicity pages from Soho and John Murray, or get your copy at Amazon.com, Bookshop.org or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Publishing in 'Web3'

       At Esquire Elle Griffin writes at some length on how The Crypto Revolution Wants to Reimagine Books.
       Of course it does .....

       As she notes, however, far into the piece:
If this is all starting to sound like a pipe dream, that's because it is, for the time being.
       Oh, yes -- there's also this:
Even if these platforms become more user-friendly (they'll have to if they hope to attract business), none solve one of the biggest challenges facing the publishing industry right now: finding readers.
       Some creative ideas here, but .....
       But.

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



       Out of This World review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rachel S. Cordasco on Speculative Fiction in Translation from the Cold War to the New Millennium, in Out of This World, recently out from the University of Illinois Press.

       (Cordasco is also the founder of the very useful Speculative Fiction in Translation site.)

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



21 July 2022 - Thursday

Akutagawa and Naoki prizes | Miles Franklin Literary Award
Casablanca Story review

       Akutagawa and Naoki prizes

       They've awarded the latest round of Akutagawa and Naoki prizes, the two leading Japanese literary prizes; see, for example, the Kyodo News report, Female writers win top Japan book awards, dominate shortlists.

       The Akutagawa Prize went to おいしいごはんが食べられますように, by Takase Junko.

       The Naoki Prize went to 夜に星を放つ, by Kubo Misumi.
       A short work by Kubo is actually under review at the complete review: Mikumari, published a few years ago in the Strangers Press Keshiki-series.
       An English translation of Kubo's novel So We Look to the Sky came out last year; see also the Arcade Publishing publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com, Bookshop.org or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Miles Franklin Literary Award

       They've announced the winner of this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, the leading Australian novel prize, and it is Bodies of Light, by Jennifer Down; see also the Text publicity page.

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



       Casablanca Story review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of In Koli Jean Bofane's Casablanca Story, recently out from Indiana University Press in their Global African Voices-series.

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



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