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

11 - 20 February 2024

11 February: Andrey Kurkov profile | Benyamin Q & A | Censorship in ... Kazakhstan
12 February: Hansda Shekhar Q & A | 'Lost in translation ?' panel | The Tale of Genji in ... Chinese
13 February: International Booker Prize dates | A Persian Requiem review
14 February: Damon Galgut Q & A | Bluesky
15 February: IPAF shortlist | Prix Mémorable | David Grossman Q & A
16 February: Swiss national literary prizes | Prix « Naissance d’une œuvre » finalists | Women's Prize for Non-Fiction longlist
17 February: Aka Morchiladze | The Hopkins Manuscript review
18 February: Georgi Gospodinov Q & A | The last 100 reviews
19 February: Jerry Pinto Q & A | Guyana Prize for Literature shortlists | The Celestial City review
20 February: Must-read list ? | Paul Olchváry (1965-2024)

go to weblog

return to main archive

20 February 2024 - Tuesday

Must-read list ? | Paul Olchváry (1965-2024)

       Must-read list ?

       At ntv they offer a list of 30 Bücher, die jeder gelesen haben muss, a list of 30 'classics of world literature'.
       Apparently they mined a lot of similar best-of lists -- many English-language ones, I suspect, given how ridiculously English-language heavy the list is.
       Obviously, quite a few all-timers here -- but otherwise ... a very odd selection.

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

       Paul Olchváry (1965-2024)

       Translator from the Hungarian (e.g. Allah's Spacious Earth), editor in chief of Hungarian Cultural Studies, and publisher of New Europe Books Paul Olchváry has passed away; see, for example, the hlo report.

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

19 February 2024 - Monday

Jerry Pinto Q & A | Guyana Prize for Literature shortlists
The Celestial City review

       Jerry Pinto Q & A

       At My Kolkata Priyam Marik has a Q & A with the Em and the Big Hoom and Helen-author, in I'm chasing the Nobel Prize in Literature... and immortality: Jerry Pinto.
       Good to hear:
Reading, though, has never been a problem. I have very bad eyesight, but even in dim light, I’ll still be reading. I came to Kolkata for two days with four books, and I’m leaving with 17. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to read. Most of the time, I’d rather be reading than writing.
       Not sure about his motivation, but, hey, whatever works...:
I’m chasing the Nobel Prize in Literature. I’m chasing immortality. It’s the stupidest thing to do, but I want to be read 300 years from now. I want to write magnificently. I want people to look at me and say, how does he do that ? I want my books to open and stardust to burst out.

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

       Guyana Prize for Literature shortlists

       The Guyana Prize for Literature has announced its shortlists; see, for example, the (picture-heavy, sigh) report at Stabroek News.
       The winners will be announced 1 March.

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

       The Celestial City review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Diego Marani's Trieste-novel, The Celestial City, just out in English from Dedalus.

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

18 February 2024 - Sunday

Georgi Gospodinov Q & A | The last 100 reviews

       Georgi Gospodinov Q & A

       In The Observer Anthony Cummins has a Q & A with Georgi Gospodinov: ‘There was a culture of silence – it was safer not to say what you think’.

       A UK edition of Gospodinov's The Physics of Sorrow is now out, and a new US edition is coming out -- though not from Open Letter, who originally published it.

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

       The last 100 reviews

       Another hundred reviews down at the complete review, so it's time for the next overview of the most recent batch of 100 reviews -- 5101 through 5200.

       - The last 100 reviews were posted over 240 days -- slightly quicker than the last 100, which took 252 days.
       The average reviewed book was 264.1 pages long, down considerably from the previous 100, where the average was a ridiculous 325 pages.
       None of the reviewed books were over 1000 pages long; in fact, only two were longer than 750 pages -- though 11 were in the 400-4999 page range. Only three books had less than a hundred pages, however; down from five in the previous hundred.

       - The last 100 reviews were 111,208 words long, down some from the previous 119,638. The longest review was 3016 words long, while five more were over 2000 words long; three reviews came in at under 500 words.

       - Reviewed books were originally written in 22 different languages (including English), with English again by far the most popular language, with 29 titles, followed by Japanese (13), French (11), and German (10). No new languages were added; the total number of languages represented remains 85. (See also the updated full breakdown of all the languages books under review were originally written in.)

       - Male-written books continued to be in the (super-)majority, with barely one in five -- 21 -- written by women. The historic sexist average of written-by-women titles under review has now crept up another .07 per cent, to ... 17.29.

       - No books were rated 'A+' or 'A'; ten titles were rated 'A-'. The lowest-rated titles were four rated 'B-'.
       With eleven reviewed books written before 1900, and twelve written 1900 to 1945, coverage of older titles was unusually heavy. Two titles first published in 2024 were already reviewed, as well as nine from 2023.
       Eighty-one of the reviewed titles were works of prose fiction (novels, stories, a novella), while, disappointingly, no dramas were reviewed.

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

17 February 2024 - Saturday

Aka Morchiladze | The Hopkins Manuscript review

       Aka Morchiladze

       BNN reports that Journey to Karabakh and Obolé-author Aka Morchiladze: Georgia's Literary Gem Nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature; see also the Agende,ge report that Georgian author Aka Morchiladze nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature
       Apparently that's what the Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature has announced .....
       This pretty much blows any chance Morchiladze might have had to be long- or shortlisted for the prize: the Swedish Academy is pretty clear about this: "Making the nomination public is not allowed". This is the kind of thing they take pretty seriously .....

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

       The Hopkins Manuscript review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of R.C. Sherriff's 1939 novel, The Hopkins Manuscript, recently re-issued in both the UK (as a Penguin Modern Classic) and the US.

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

16 February 2024 - Friday

Swiss national literary prizes | Prix « Naissance d’une œuvre » finalists
Women's Prize for Non-Fiction longlist

       Swiss national literary prizes

       They've announced the Swiss national literary prizes, with seven prix suisses de littérature, as well as the Grand Prix suisse de littérature -- going to Klaus Merz -- and Dorothea Trottenberg winning the translation prize. (How -- and why -- did they get the poor authors to pose like that ?) See also report on all the prizes, Grand Prix Literature 2024 goes to author from canton Aargau.

       Several of Merz's works have been translated into English, including Stigmata of Bliss (Seagull Books) and An Audible Blue (White Pine Press).

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

       Prix « Naissance d’une œuvre » finalists

       They've announced (warning ? dreaded pdf format ? what the hell ?) the four finalists for this year's prix «Naissance d’une œuvre», a well-paying (€20 000 !) French literary award for a fourth, fifth, or sixth novel -- a mid-career prize like the St. Francis College Literary Prize.
       What is particularly notable about this prize is that it is for: "une œuvre romanesque, à l’exception d’ouvrages d’auto-fiction" -- i.e. writers of auto-fiction need not apply (or at least won't be considered). Is there any hope of any US/UK prizes adopting a similar restriction ?
       The winner will be announced 29 May.

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

       Women's Prize for Non-Fiction longlist

       They've announced the inaugural longlist for the Women's Prize for Non-Fiction -- sixteen titles.
       I haven't seen any of these.
       The shortlist will be announced 27 March, and the winner 13 June.

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

15 February 2024 - Thursday

IPAF shortlist | Prix Mémorable | David Grossman Q & A

       IPAF shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the leading Arabic-language novel prize.
       Six titles are left in the running; the winner will be announced 28 April.

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

       Prix Mémorable

       The libraires Initiales have announced the winner of their prix Mémorable, a prize for re-issue of a book by an overlooked author, a translation of the work by a previously untranslated (into French) author, or a new translation of translation, and it is the French translation of Togawa Masako's The Master Key; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       See also the shortlisted titles.

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

       David Grossman Q & A

       At Julia Encke has a Q & A with author David Grossman, in "I believe what Hamas says".
       Among his responses:
Are you managing to write at the moment, or is it impossible?

Grossman: It's impossible but unavoidable. Only when I write, do I breathe with both lungs. When I don't write, I'm completely at the mercy of the atrocities.

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

14 February 2024 - Wednesday

Damon Galgut Q & A | Bluesky

       Damon Galgut Q & A

       In the Hindustan Times Simar Bhasin has a Q & A with Damon Galgut – “It’s much easier to oppress people you don’t see as fully human”.
       Among his responses:
Eurocentrism in publishing continues to determine what is read by a global audience when it comes to Anglophone literatures. Who are some of the South African writers that have not yet received due attention, in your opinion ?

Hmmm, that’s a tricky question. I tend to think that, in the long run, writers who are worth noticing do get noticed. But it can take a long while and no doubt injustices occur. I’ll limit myself to that reply and refrain from naming anybody, which is fair, because I’m woefully under read in South African literature anyway.

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


       I've been on Twitter since 2009 -- so long that the logo-button on the sidebar of this page is not the birdie of the past decade-plus but the previous Twitter.
       Under its new ownership, Twitter has deteriorated considerably. I can -- and continue to -- put up with much of it, but am particularly annoyed by the fact that it is now essentially closed off: you have to be signed in to read anyone's timeline; if that had been the case at the time I joined I wouldn't have. (Individual tweets can still be read without being signed in, but that's it.)
       One of the Twitter-alternatives, Bluesky has now opened up and feeds are publicly accessible; it is also no longer invite-only (i.e. anyone can sign up) -- and so I have, somewhat grudgingly, done so (though I am also still on Twitter)
       Aside from the fact that, visually and mostly functionally, it looks way too much like Twitter, it's also still pretty quiet there, as there's not near enough to a critical mass of users (there are apparently around five million or so right now). Maybe it'll be more interesting if it manages to grow, but for all the crap spewed about at Twitter (including far too much garbage-bot-advertising) it's still a far more useful forum.
       Anyway, if you are sniffing around Bluesky, you know where to find me.

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

13 February 2024 - Tuesday

International Booker Prize dates | A Persian Requiem review

       International Booker Prize dates

       The International Booker Prize has announced the dates for this year's prize:
  • longlist announcement: 11 March
  • shortlist announcement: 9 April
  • winner announcement: 21 May

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

       A Persian Requiem review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Simin Daneshvar's 1969 novel, A Persian Requiem -- perhaps the most famous modern Iranian novel.

       This translation came out in 1991, just a year after another one (published as Savushun); I'd be curious to compare them.

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

12 February 2024 - Monday

Hansda Shekhar Q & A | 'Lost in translation ?' panel
The Tale of Genji in ... Chinese

       Hansda Shekhar Q & A

       At The Wire Varsha Tiwary has a Q & A with the translator, in 'Translators Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Modifying the Text to Make it Appealing': Hansda Shekhar.
       Shekhar believes:
Translators should not feel guilty about modifying the translated text to make it more appealing and concise, about playing with the source text and working with it the way they find best. Translators should not feel guilty about not treating the source text with reverence (which, most of the time, is just an undue reverence).
       (As longtime readers know, my preference tends in a ... different direction.)

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

       'Lost in translation ?' panel

       In The Morung Express they report on a recent panel at the White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair asking (what's) 'Lost in translation ?', in Nagaland: ‘Each translator has a story to tell’.

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

       The Tale of Genji in ... Chinese

       At Focus Taiwan Chiu Tsu-yin and Chao Yen-hsiang report that 3rd Chinese translation of 'The Tale of Genji' set to be published in 2024, as Lin Shui-fu -- who has also translated works by Kawabata, Tanizaki, and Ōe -- offers the first Chinese translation of the Japanese classic in over forty years.

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

11 February 2024 - Sunday

Andrey Kurkov profile | Benyamin Q & A | Censorship in ... Kazakhstan

       Andrey Kurkov profile

       In The Guardian Nicholas Wroe has a profile of the Death and the Penguin-author, in Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov: ‘I felt guilty writing fiction in a time of war’.
       One hopes he'll be able to return to fiction, but it's understandable that:
Kurkov was 70 pages into a new novel when the invasion happened, but found that, “while I could produce quite a lot of journalism, I couldn’t write fiction”, he says. “Last summer I managed 30 more pages but then had another block. It somehow felt too guilty a pleasure to write fiction in a time of war. It felt like something sinful. To write a novel you also need to concentrate on the world of the novel, not on your reality. And the reality didn’t let me think about anything else. It was like being imprisoned by reality, checking the news every hour all day and then waking up several times a night to check it again.”

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

       Benyamin Q & A

       At Diya Isha has a Q & A with the Goat Days-author, in ‘I am not a linear writer. If it’s a 300-page novel, I am not writing it sequentially’: Benyamin.
       About translation, he says:
Writing is one thing, and translation is a creative process in itself. If I interfere there, the flow and genuineness will be lost. So, I give all the freedom to the translators. With their own imagination and perception, they can translate. At the end of the day, I will simply read it. If the idea, the core of the novel, the core of the story, is not missed, I am not bothered about the translation.
       And Goat Days has been made into a film, coming out in April -- see the IMDb page.

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

       Censorship in ... Kazakhstan

       At Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Chris Rickleton reports on Kazakhstan's 'Bloody January' Censorship: Good Books and Banned Books.

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

previous entries (1 - 10 February 2024)

archive index

- search the site -

- return to top of the page -

© 2024 the complete review

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