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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 - 29 February 2024

21 February: Jan Assmann (1938-2024) | J. Robert Lennon profile
22 February: Vámos Miklós profile | The Illuminated review
23 February: Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists | Walter Scott Prize longlist | Prix du Dernier Roman
24 February: PEN Translates winners | Jeanette-Schocken-Preis
25 February: Zeruya Shalev Q & A | Bad Luck and Trouble review
26 February: Book World Prague preview | Wafer-Thin Reading Group | Placita review
27 February: New World Literature Today | Maqroll's Prayer review
28 February: Brian Stableford (1948-2024) | Gigi Chang profile | Museum Visits review
29 February: Graywolf Press profile | 'The end of language and literature majors' | Books coverage survey | Salome in Graz

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29 February 2024 - Thursday

Graywolf Press profile | 'The end of language and literature majors'
Books coverage survey | Salome in Graz

       Graywolf Press profile

       At MPRnews Emily Bright reports on how Graywolf Press celebrates 50 years of publishing wild literature.
       Good to see the estimable Graywolf Press get the attention.

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

       'The end of language and literature majors'

       At The Chosun Daily Choi Eun-kyung, Kim Seo-young, and Woo Ji-won report on what's Lost in AI translation: The end of language and literature majors (in South Korea), as:
A growing number of universities, including those in Seoul, are opting to replace traditional foreign language majors with departments related to cutting-edge technology with promising employment prospects.
       Meanwhile, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies: "introduced a new AI major integrating foreign languages with artificial intelligence and big data" .....
German and French language majors are now offered at only 52 and 27 universities nationwide, respectively. In contrast, majors falling under the umbrella of “Human Science,” such as library and information science and psychology, have experienced an increase from 742 to 864 over the past five years.

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

       Books coverage survey

       Interesting to see this 'Culture Outlet Survey', asking: "which publications have the best books coverage" -- see the Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 results.
       Lots of good publications and sites, but I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that the complete review and this Literary Saloon don't even make the Tier 3 cut .....
       Presumably the site falls short on the "interesting and reputable"-criteria .....

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

       Salome in Graz

       One reason I've been getting to slightly fewer books over the past few months is because I finally finished a project that I've long (long, long) been playing around with, a novel, Salome in Graz.

Salome in Graz: A Novel

       I'd rather not say much about it, as I would prefer readers not to come to it *expecting* any (particular) thing, but if you like what I do at the complete review, if you liked my Arno Schmidt-book, if you like books that are about literature, storytelling, translation, you might enjoy it. And, yes, if you're interested in the evolution of the Salome-story from its Biblical beginnings through the Wilde play and Strauss opera, it should be pretty hard to resist.

       This is something that I've been working on for a long time; the MS Word-summary only captures this latest iteration:

Salome in Graz: A Novel

       I'll have a bit more on the writing-of at a later date, but it's a *story* the seeds of which date back to 1982 (yes, really). Over the decades, I've approached the material in a variety of ways, and while I got pretty far with a number of them, this is the first version I've completed. I couldn't have written it as it now is previously -- the internet has gloriously made a wealth of material that I would otherwise not have come across accessible -- though that has also made it a very different books from my earlier conceptions.
       It remains, however, decidedly and emphatically, a novel -- albeit one that is also very ... documentary. But I hope readers will think of it and read it as a novel, a work of fiction. (If Salome in Graz can be reduced to *being* about any one single thing it would be: storytelling, and the telling of the story (and the stories ...) here is central to the novel.)

       Currently, Salome in Graz -- basically self-published -- is only available here, but it should be more widely/generally available soon; I'll let you know. (That site generally has a promotion/coupon code available -- today you can still get 10 per cent off any purchase using the code: PLAN10; I'll try and let you know what the next one is. [Updated: And here we go: through 8 March WOMENWRITE15 at checkout gets you 15 per cent off.])
       (Yes, I've put a high list price on it. Sorry/not sorry.)

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

28 February 2024 - Wednesday

Brian Stableford (1948-2024) | Gigi Chang profile | Museum Visits review

       Brian Stableford (1948-2024)

       Prolific author and translator Brian Stableford has passed away; see, for example, the Reactor report.
       His list of translations -- mainly from the French, of work written around 1900 (up and down a few decades) -- is awesome.

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

       Gigi Chang profile

       In the South China Morning Post's Young Post Kathryn Giordano reports on Bridging the gap: how translator Gigi Chang introduced the beloved 'Condor Trilogy' Chinese fantasy novels to the Western world.
       The first four books in the Jin Yong-series are under review at the complete review, beginning with A Hero Born.

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

       Museum Visits review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Éric Chevillard's collection of Museum Visits, recently out in Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters-series.

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

27 February 2024 - Tuesday

New World Literature Today | Maqroll's Prayer review

       New World Literature Today

       The March-April issue of World Literature Today is now available, with a focus on: Writing the Polycrisis: Dispatches from a Calamitous Planet -- and, of course, the always interesting book review section.

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

       Maqroll's Prayer review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Álvaro Mutis' Maqroll's Prayer and Other Poems.

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

26 February 2024 - Monday

Book World Prague preview | Wafer-Thin Reading Group | Placita review

       Book World Prague preview

       Book World Prague is still a ways away -- it runs 23 to 26 May -- but at Radio Prague International Ruth Fraňková has a Q & A with its director, Radovan Auer, in Franz Kafka and German-speaking literature focus of this year's Book World Prague.

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

       Wafer-Thin Reading Group

       Wafer Thin Books is 'A Place for Slim Volumes That Pack a Punch', with a monthly reading group that reads short books.
       They have an excellent line-up this year, including several titles under review at the complete review -- including the book that will be discussed today, at 20:00 EST, Willem Frederik Hermans's very good An Untouched House.

       They've also now posted an overview of the Top-Rated Wafer-Thin Novels from The Complete Review -- as, while I do tend towards heftier volumes, quite a few slim ones also are among the highest-rated.

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

       Placita review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Aëtius' Placita, recently out in a Loeb Classical Library-edition from Harvard University Press.

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

25 February 2024 - Sunday

Zeruya Shalev Q & A | Bad Luck and Trouble review

       Zeruya Shalev Q & A

       At Julia Encke has a Q & A with Zeruya Shalev, "I am shocked and grieving, yet hopeful".
       Among her observations: "Critics had enormous power back then when there was no Internet".

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

       Bad Luck and Trouble review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Child's Bad Luck and Trouble.
       This 2007 novel was the eleventh Jack Reacher novel -- and the basis for the second season of the Reacher-miniseries on Amazon.

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

24 February 2024 - Saturday

PEN Translates winners | Jeanette-Schocken-Preis

       PEN Translates winners

       English PEN has announced the latest batch of winners of its PEN Translates awards -- twelve titles written in ten different languages (including one in Maltese !).

       (I even already have a copy of Andrzej Tichý's Purity, due out in June -- and I hope to see some more of these as well.)

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


       They've announced the winner of this year's Jeanette-Schocken-Prize, the Bremerhavener Bürgerpreis für Literatur, and it is Forgottenness-author Tanja Maljartschuk.
       This is a mostly biennial prize -- though it's been three years since they handed out the last one, which went to Eliot Weinberger. It's a solid list of winners they've had, including Gerhard Roth (2015) and Kertész Imre (1997).

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

23 February 2024 - Friday

Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists | Walter Scott Prize longlist
Prix du Dernier Roman

       Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists

       They've announced the thirteen finalists for this year's Nordic Council Literature Prize, the leading book-prize for Scandinavian authors.
       Each of the five Scandinavian countries has two titles in the running, and there are one each from Åland, the Faroe Islands, and the Sami language area; click on the titles on the announcement page for additional (English) information about the works.
       Among the finalists are well-known authors including Helle Helle, Laura Lindstedt (previously a finalist, with Oneiron), and Niels Fredrik Dahl (also author of På vei til en venn -- and the husband of Linn Ullmann).

       Quite a few previous winners of this prize are under review at the complete review.

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

       Walter Scott Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
       One of the titles is under review at the complete review: Tan Twan Eng's The House of Doors.

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

       Prix du Dernier Roman

       They've apparently already had a 'Prix du Dernier Roman' -- a last-novel prize that was awarded posthumously, or as an encouragement to authors to end their careers -- but apparently it didn't really take, so they're trying again, with the same (now somewhat misleading) name.
       This Prix du Dernier Roman redux is, regrettably, not for a true last work but meant as an homage to a living author (who is presumably meant to keep going, too ...). A shame -- a true last-novel prize, buying off an author to stop churning out novels -- has definite appeal.
       The winner of this year's inaugural prize has now been announced, and in Antoine Volodine (Radiant Terminus, etc.) they certainly honor a worthy author -- who, one hopes, will indeed continue ... churning out works (under all his different pseudonyms). See, for example, the ActuaLitté report.

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

22 February 2024 - Thursday

Vámos Miklós profile | The Illuminated review

       Vámos Miklós profile

       At hlo Ági Bori profiles the Hungarian author, in Miklós Vámos: Beloved Raconteur, Affable Author.
       Other Press brought out his The Book of Fathers a couple of years ago.

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

       The Illuminated review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gérard de Nerval's 1852 collection, The Illuminated: The Precursors of Socialism: Tales and Portraits, finally out in English, from Wakefield Press.

       Certainly makes one want to see more Restif de la Bretonne -- and I like the author's note/warning from the previously unknown to me Quintus Aucler's La Thréicie.

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

21 February 2024 - Wednesday

Jan Assmann (1938-2024) | J. Robert Lennon profile

       Jan Assmann (1938-2024)

       Egyptologist Jan Assmann has passed away; see, for example, the report from Die Zeit.
       Quite a few of his works have been translated into English -- e.g. From Akhenaten to Moses (American University in Cairo Press) and Cultural Memory and Early Civilization (Cambridge University Press).

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

       J. Robert Lennon profile

       At the Cornell Chronicle David Nutt reports how J. Robert Lennon chases down literary thrills in new series, as he has a new book out, Hard Girls.

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

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