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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 December 2023

21 December: Sahitya Akademi Awards | New World Literature Today | Maigret and the Saturday Caller review
22 December: Prix Grand Continent | New Latin American Literature Today | Zola and shopping
23 December: Japanese literature (not yet) in translation | Barack Obama's 2023 favorites
24 December: Coming in 2024
25 December: Endō Shūsaku Literary Museum | The Riven Heart of Moscow review
26 December: Du Fu museum | UK poetry sales boom
27 December: Greek-Chinese translation | 'Death-positive' literature
28 December: Mekong River Literature Awards | The Lineage of the Raghus review
29 December: Bestselling in France in 2023 | 'Japan's Prizewinning Books of 2023' | Marie review
30 December: Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards | Science fiction in Japan
31 December: Translations from Arabic, 2023 | Wole Soyinka profile | Translation Q & As | More coming in 2024

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31 December 2023 - Sunday

Translations from Arabic, 2023 | Wole Soyinka profile
Translation Q & As | More coming in 2024

       Translations from Arabic, 2023

       ArabLit has a useful overview of what was Published in 2023: Arabic Literature in Translation -- not just into English, but into a variety of other languages (always interesting to see, what gets translated elsewhere).

       (One title missing from the English list is Reem Bassiouney's Al-Qata'i, which I have and am looking forward to getting to; see also the Georgetown University Press publicity page.)

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

       Wole Soyinka profile

       In the Nation Tony Mochama reports on A chat with Wole Soyinka during Chinese literary festival.
       Among the Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth-author's observations:
I reject the term ‘Artificial Intelligence.’ All knowledge is a creation of human beings, including language, so that as a Yoruba, I will not presume to translate what AI means in English, as it is not my original language. I only have ‘artificial knowledge’ of the English language, do you see ?
       And one good gossip-titbit:
     The Polish Professor, Dariusz Tomasz Lebioda, is curious as to where Prof Wole Soyinka keeps his Nobel Prize for Literature medal.
     “Actually, I lost it,” Soyinka reveals.
     “What do you mean ‘lost’ it, sir?” Zhao Si cannot help it.
     “To be more accurate, my publisher lost it,” Wole Soyinka says, graciously not revealing which of his many publishers. “They borrowed it, maybe to represent me in absentia, for an event. It disappeared, completely ...”

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

       Translation Q & As

       At Sayari Debnath has Interviews: 2022 NIF Translation Fellows Rahul Srawate, NS Gundur, V Ramaswamy and Amlan Biswas -- the NIF Translation Fellowship winners who were each 'awarded a grant of Rs 6 lakh to translate a work of Indian nonfiction in English'.

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

       More coming in 2024

       I mentioned a bunch of 'coming in 2024'-lists a week ago, and here are a few more -- though, as the headlines of the first two suggest, the range of these isn't that great .....:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

30 December 2023 - Saturday

Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards | Science fiction in Japan

       Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards, one of the leading Iranian literary prizes; see, for example, the Tehran Times report, Jalal Literary Awards announces winners, or the IBNA report (Persian).
       (Recall also, as I mentioned recently, that this is the Jalal Al-e Ahmad-centenary year.)

       Two works shared the novel prize: Ebrahim Akbari-Dizgah's بیروط ('Beirut'; see the Saad publicity page) and Azam Azimi's غم‌سوزی ('Sorrow-Burning'; see the Adab publicity page).
       There was no winner in the literary review category, but Soghra Salehi did receive an honorable mention for the promising-sounding آخرالزمان در رمان‌های آپوکالیپتیک ('Apocalyptic End Times in Novels'; see the publisher's publicity page).

       Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be seeing any of these in translation soon; very little Iranian writing that gets published in Iran makes it into translation, especially in recent years.

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

       Science fiction in Japan

       At Eli K.P. William has two articles, finding A Science Fiction Rejuvenation in the New Era: Looking Back at 60 Years of Japanese Sci-Fi and profiling the SFWJ, in Sixty Years of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan
       A few works by some of the authors mentioned here are under review at the complete review -- works by Tsutsui Yasutaka (e.g. Salmonella Men on Planet Porno), Project Itoh (Harmony), and Fujii Taiyō (e.g. Gene Mapper), for example.

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

29 December 2023 - Friday

Bestselling in France in 2023 | 'Japan's Prizewinning Books of 2023'
Marie review

       Bestselling in France in 2023

       At Livres Hebdo they list the 50 bestselling titles in France in 2023 -- unfortunately mostly without actual sales numbers; see also the GFK press release, which does include a few sales numbers.
       The top two titles were 'bandes dessinées', with the top title -- by a wide margin -- the latest Asterix-volume, now also available in English; see the Sphere and Papercutz publicity pages, or get your copy at,, or; it sold 1,590,000 copies in France.
       Third best-selling for the year was the prix Goncourt-winner, Jean-Baptiste Andrea's Veiller sur elle -- see also the 2 Seas Agency information page -- which has sold 434,000 copies.
       A Colleen Hoover -- but only one -- makes the top ten (with several more in the top fifty); while 'Prince' Harry's 'memoir' placed lucky thirteenth, selling 247,000 copies.
       The only top-fifty title under review at the complete review is Giuliano Da Empoli's The Wizard of the Kremlin, coming in 43rd place, with 156,000 copies sold.

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

       'Japan's Prizewinning Books of 2023'

       At Takino Yūsaku has a round-up of Japan's Prizewinning Books of 2023.
       Also included: the top five bestselling titles of the year -- alas, without sales figures. Two works by Uketsu -- 変な家 and 変な絵 -- beat out the latest Murakami Haruki novel, while Higashino Keigo's latest rounds out the top five.

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

       Marie review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Madeleine Bourdouxhe's 1943 novel, Marie.

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

28 December 2023 - Thursday

Mekong River Literature Awards | The Lineage of the Raghus review

       Mekong River Literature Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Mekong River Literature Awards, an award established by writers' associations in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia -- three countries and languages from which we see far too little in translation; see, for example, The Phnom Penh Post report, Mekong odyssey makes a splash at Laos awards.

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

       The Lineage of the Raghus review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the new translation of Kālidāsa's The Lineage of the Raghus, just out in Harvard University Press' Murty Classical Library of India-series.

       There are quite a few translations of this, and I hope to take a look at some more -- though I regret that I don't feel I am up to reviewing Adolphus Fridericus Stenzler's "sanskrite et latine" one, Raghuvansa: Kálidásæ carmen (read it at the Internet Archive).

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

27 December 2023 - Wednesday

Greek-Chinese translation | 'Death-positive' literature

       Greek-Chinese translation

       In the Global Times Xu Liuliu and Li Hang look at how The Luo family builds piers for cultural bridges in China and Greece via literature, theater -- with Luo Niansheng (1904-1990) having: "translated over 10 million words from more than 50 ancient Greek literary and artistic works" during his lifetime.

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

       'Death-positive' literature

       At Psychology Today Donelle Dreese writes about: "the emergence of 'death-positive' literature", in Can You Read Your Way to a Better Death ?
       Not sure this is a trend that I want to have take off.

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

26 December 2023 - Tuesday

Du Fu museum | UK poetry sales boom

       Du Fu museum

       A Xinhua article reporting that the Memorial site of ancient Chinese poet Du Fu under maintenance makes me aware that there is a ... well, a memorial site, in fact a museum, devoted to the Tang dynasty poet.
       It's in Chengdu, where apparently he enjoyed: "one of the most peaceful periods of his life after escaping warfare, he wrote over 200 poems and built a thatched cottage".
       The Chengdu Du Fu Thatched Cottage Musuem isn't merely some cottage, either; it's a whole 24-hectare park -- looks well worth a visit.

       This also gives me an opportunity to remind you that, while there are of course quite a few Du Fu (also transliterated as Tu Fu) collections available in English -- e.g. the (fairly) new expanded edition of David Hinton's The Selected Poems of Tu Fu (see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at,, or --, what you really want to get is the six-volume Stephen Owen translation -- see also the De Gruyter Mouton publicity page for this impressive bilingual collection. And, yes, while it would be nice to have the six volumes in hardcover -- go ahead, get your copy at,, or -- you can also download the whole 2962-page-heap as a single file from the publisher's page, because it's open access.
       (I'd love to have the hardcover edition, but even I succumbed to this e-version; highly recommended.)

       (I do also like the publicity copy here for this translation -- more honest than most:
Scholars know that there is scarcely a Du Fu poem whose interpretation is uncontested. The scholar may use this as a baseline to agree or disagree. Other readers can feel confident that this is a credible reading of the text within the tradition.
       Agree or disagree ! A 'credible reading' !)

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

       UK poetry sales boom

       A few weeks ago I mentioned a recent report on how well poetry-books-sales had done in the UK, and in The Observer Richard Brooks follows up, finding Poetry sales boom as Instagram and Facebook take work to new audiences. Which is ... I guess a good thing ?
       Still, Donna Ashworth rather than ... Du Fu ? Sigh.
       (Still, I only semi-agree with Neil Astley, that: "This boom in their sales is about stuff pretending to be poetry. It also pushes out other, more deserving poets" -- literature and book-sales aren't zero-sum; people can be persuaded to read more; I don't know that more deserving poets are pushed out (except perhaps by publishers and on bookshop shelves ?).)

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

25 December 2023 - Monday

Endō Shūsaku Literary Museum | The Riven Heart of Moscow review

       Endō Shūsaku Literary Museum

       At Amano Hisaki offers Start of a Journey: Nagasaki's Literature Museum by the Sea, profiling the Endō Shūsaku Literary Museum -- as it is (still) the year of the centenary of Endō's birth.
       Several Endō-titles are under review at the complete review -- though not Silence:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Riven Heart of Moscow review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikhail Osorgin's 1928 novel, The Riven Heart of Moscow: Sivtsev Vrazhek, now out in a new translation.

       My preference is for the Soviet novels of the 1920s and 30s -- one of my literary soft spots --, but some of the exile works are of interest too, and this is certainly one of those. Flawed, but it also has a lot going for it. But I'm not sure about that choice of titles for the new translation ... 'riven' seems a hard sell to me, anywhere you put it.

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

24 December 2023 - Sunday

Coming in 2024

       Coming in 2024

       Mainly bigger-press titles, but giving some idea of what's coming next year here some of the early previews:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

23 December 2023 - Saturday

Japanese literature (not yet) in translation | Barack Obama's 2023 favorites

       Japanese literature (not yet) in translation

       In The Japan Times Kris Kosaka offers A wish list of hidden gems for Japanese literature lovers, as: 'The Japan Times asked translators of Japanese literature for their biggest book wish: Which Japanese work or author do you most want to see translated into English ?'
       Always great to see this sort of thing -- and hopefully we'll see some of these in translation eventually.

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

       Barack Obama's 2023 favorites

       Former American president Barack Obama has revealed his favorite books of 2023. (I haven't seen any of these.)
       The current White House office holder, like his predecessor, apparently does not release this kind of list.

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

22 December 2023 - Friday

Prix Grand Continent | New Latin American Literature Today | Zola and shopping

       Prix Grand Continent

       The Prix Grand Continent is a relatively new European book prize, first awarded in 2021. Books in five major European languages -- French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish -- vie for the prize; see, for example, the finalists for this year's prize.
       The winning title receives €100,000 to finance its translation and marketing in the other four languages -- an interesting approach. Note that English is not one of the languages ... encouraged by this prize.
       They've now announced this year's winning title -- and it is Złodzieje żarówek, by Tomasz Różycki; see also the Czarne publicity page.

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

       New Latin American Literature Today

       The new issue of Latin American Literature Today is now up, with a Giannina Braschi-dossier, among much else (including quite a few book reviews).

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

       Zola and shopping

       Via I'm pointed to Agnes Callard's piece on how Zola understood our lust for shopping at UnHerd, as she finds 'The Ladies' Paradise captures how consumerism was born'.

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

21 December 2023 - Thursday

Sahitya Akademi Awards | New World Literature Today
Maigret and the Saturday Caller review

       Sahitya Akademi Awards

       The Indian Sahitya Akademi -- the National Academy of Letters -- has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winners of this year's Sahitya Akademi Awards, a leading Indian literary award honoring works of literature in each of twenty-four languages. (The official press release helpfully also includes the longlists of works considered in each language, but for just the winners see also, for example, the report.)
       Nine of the winning titles were poetry, while six were novels and five short story collections.
       The English-language winner is Requiem in Raga Janki, by Neelam Saran Gour; see also the India Viking publicity page.
       Surprisingly/suspiciously many of the winners were selected unanimously by the respective juries.

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

       New World Literature Today

       The January-February 2024 issue of World Literature Today is now available online, with a spotlight on 'The NSK Neustadt Prize: Gene Luen Yang', as well as the usual variety of good material -- including, of course, the extensive book review section.

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

       Maigret and the Saturday Caller review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's Maigret and the Saturday Caller.

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

previous entries (11 - 20 December 2023)

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