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

The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2024

1 June: Paul Theroux Q & A | John Burnside (1955-2024) | Gender bias in men's reading habits
2 June: Salomes in June
3 June: Mortal Leap review
4 June: Dalkey Archive checklist | Museum of Hong Kong Literature
5 June: Reading (by children) in the UK | Hard Copy review
6 June: Albert Camus manuscript | Premio Strega shortlist | Edgardo Cozarinsky (1939-2024)
7 June: Griffin Poetry Prizes | Daniel Kehlmann Q & A | Cassandra review
8 June: Franz Kafka Prizes | Norton Anthology of World Literature, 5th ed. | Crimean Tatar literature
9 June: Gratiaen Prize
10 June: Prix Fitzgerald | Reading in ... Ukraine | Charu Nivedita profile

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10 June 2024 - Monday

Prix Fitzgerald | Reading in ... Ukraine | Charu Nivedita profile

       Prix Fitzgerald

       They've announced the winner of this year's Prix Fitzgerald, a French award honoring: "a novel or short story that reflects the elegance, spirit, and art of living embodied by the American writer and adopted son of the French Riviera, Francis Scott Fitzgerald", and it is 48 Clues into the Disappearance of My Sister, by Joyce Carol Oates
       Among the other finalists were Ian McEwan's Lessons and Christian Kracht's Eurotrash.

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

       Reading in ... Ukraine

       At RFE/RL Aleksander Palikot reports on A 'Very Painful' Book Boom: As Russia Wages War On Their Culture, Ukrainians Turn To Reading, as:
With a hip new bookstore opening in Kyiv every other month and unexpected bestsellers rocking the market, readers and publishing industry insiders alike speak of a spike in demand for books.
       Meanwhile, at the Kyiv Independent Kate Tsurkan offers a list of 10 authors shaping contemporary Ukrainian literature. Books by four of them are under review at the complete review: Yuri Andrukhovych (The Moscoviad), etc.), Lyubko Deresh (Культ, etc.), Oksana Zabuzhko (Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex), and Serhiy Zhadan (Voroshilovgrad, etc.).

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

       Charu Nivedita profile

       At Diya Isha writes How Tamil author Charu Nivedita has created a cult following for his books (and his persona).
       The only one of his books under review at the complete review is Zero Degree, but I do hope to see more.

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

9 June 2024 - Sunday

Gratiaen Prize

       Gratiaen Prize

       They announced the winner of this year's Gratiaen Prize -- a Sri Lankan prize for the best work written in English, founded by Michael Ondaatje -- last week, and it is Father Cabraal's Recipe for Love Cake, by Ramya Jirasinghe -- not yet published; see the The Ampersand Agency information page.
       See also the Q & A by Tina Edward Gunawardhana in the Daily Mirror, Winning the GRATIAEN PRIZE Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe lays bare her thoughts on winning Sri Lanka's most prestigious Literary Award.

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

8 June 2024 - Saturday

Franz Kafka Prizes | Norton Anthology of World Literature, 5th ed.
Crimean Tatar literature

       Franz Kafka Prizes

       The Czech Franz Kafka Prize had a good run from 2001 (Philip Roth) through 2021 (Ivan Vyskočil), but they seem to have given up on it.
       The Austrians had a biennial Franz Kafka Prize they awarded from 1979 (Peter Handke) through ... 2001 (Marianne Fritz), with Nobel laureates Elias Canetti (1981) and Herta Müller (1999) being among the impressive award winners -- and they've now revived it, with Josef Winkler winning this year's prize; he gets to pick it up next week, on the 14th.

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

       Norton Anthology of World Literature, 5th ed.

       The latest -- the fifth -- edition of The Norton Anthology of World Literature is coming out -- see the W.W.Norton publicity pages for Volumes A. B. C (pre-1650) and Volumes D, E, F (post-1650) -- and in Harvard Magazine Nina Pasquini looks at this latest version, in The DNA of World Literature.
       This certainly sounds good:
Throughout the anthology, “translation labs” such as this one offer several versions of translated texts, allowing students to see how various translators capture and lose different elements of the original, said [Martin] Puchner, who serves as general editor of the anthology and who has written widely about world literature and other subjects.

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

       Crimean Tatar literature

       Alyona Savchuk has a Q & A with Journalist Mustafa Ametov on Crimean Tatar Literature’s Vital Role in Language Preservation.
       Ametov takes a hard line:
Chytomo: So in other words, “Crimean Tatar literature” refers to prose and poetry works written in the national language. What about texts by Crimean writers who wrote in other languages ?

Mustafa Ametov: Most of the other works are in Russian. But I have not read these works and I do not want to. This is my personal point of view: everything that was published in Russian by Crimean Tatar writers was published due to the influence of Soviet propaganda on Soviet literary circles. It was either about Lenin, Stalin, or the so-called Great Patriotic War [World War II from the point of view of the USSR].

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

7 June 2024 - Friday

Griffin Poetry Prizes | Daniel Kehlmann Q & A | Cassandra review

       Griffin Poetry Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's Griffin Poetry Prize, with George McWhirter winning the international prize for his translation of Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence by Homero Aridjis; see also the New Directions publicity page.
       This is a prize that rewards the translator more than the originator: "The international prize of C$130,000 is shared 60% to the translator, 40% to the original author".
       The winner was selected from 592 titles -- of which 49 were translations, from 22 languages.

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

       Daniel Kehlmann Q & A

       At hlo András Greff has a Q & A with Daniel Kehlmann: He makes a pact with the devil, but doesn't even know it -- mainly about his recent G.W.Pabst-novel, Lichtspiel. (Lichtspiel will no doubt come out in English sometime soon, but I haven't seen any announcements about the US/UK edition yet.)

       Kehlmann also admits:
I do have lots of unfinished and one finished novel that I didn't publish. I wrote it when I was 23 or so and it's not a lost masterpiece, it's a terrible, terrible book, and I hope no one ever gets to read it. My editor back then at Suhrkamp asked me, “Please don't publish this, this is terrible,” and I said, "Oh I guess you might be right," but now the whole Suhrkamp archive is in the German literature archive in Marbach, and I can't get that manuscript out of there.

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

       Cassandra review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Dramatic Poem by Lesia Ukrainka, her 1908 drama Cassandra, just out in a new translation in the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature.

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

6 June 2024 - Thursday

Albert Camus manuscript | Premio Strega shortlist
Edgardo Cozarinsky (1939-2024)

       Albert Camus manuscript

       A handwritten manuscript of Albert Camus L'Étranger -- The Stranger/The Outsider -- was sold at auction house Tajan, Lot 97 apparently selling for €500,000 (which was on the low(est) end of the estimate). (French reports put the sales-price at €656,000, but the Tajan page says half a million .....)
       The manuscript is of particular interest because it seems to have been written (in 1944) quite a while after the book was originally published (in 1942) -- but Camus backdated it to 1940 ..... And Camus included: "14 sketches in the margins" !
       See also the full Tajan manuscript-brochure (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- scroll down for the English-language text -- and Angelique Chrisafis' report in The Guardian, Handwritten ‘draft’ of Albert Camus’s L’Étranger sold in Paris for €650,000.

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

       Premio Strega shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Premio Strega, the leading Italian fiction prize.
       It's an unusual prize not only in that the shortlist and then the winner are determined by a large-scale vote but that the number of votes each title receives are made public; the vote for the final six was close at the top: with 248 votes top vote-getter L’età fragile by Donatella Di Pietrantonio only came out narrowly ahead of Invernale, by Dario Voltolini, which got 243 votes.
       The winner will be announced on 4 July.

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

       Edgardo Cozarinsky (1939-2024)

       Argentine director and writer Edgardo Cozarinsky has passed away; see, for example, the Buenos Aires Herald report.
       Several of his works have been translated; Archipelago has published his Milongas; see their publicity page.
       The only one of his books under review at the complete review is Borges in/and/on Film.

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

5 June 2024 - Wednesday

Reading (by children) in the UK | Hard Copy review

       Reading (by children) in the UK

       Renaissance UK reports on their findings "as measured by the Accelerated Reader software" of 1,273,795 pupils' reading habits in the UK and Ireland, in The Book-Reading Behaviours of Pupils 2024 -- finding among other things, that:
Average Book Difficulty rose until Year 6, then plateaued until Year 9, then declined steadily thereafter, even though the older pupils should have been reading harder books. Secondary school pupils read books at almost the same difficulty level as upper primary pupils.
       The report is presented very piecemeal at the Renaissance site, but the Data Tables-appendix (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) has all the interesting numbers -- including the interesting international comparisons at the end.
       (What the kids are reading -- when they're reading ... -- is ... not entirely encouraging, either.)
       See also the summary by Lucy Knight in The Guardian, Children reading fewer, less challenging books, UK and Ireland study finds.

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

       Hard Copy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Fien Veldman's Hard Copy -- Xerox, in the original.

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

4 June 2024 - Tuesday

Dalkey Archive checklist | Museum of Hong Kong Literature

       Dalkey Archive checklist

       At Mining the Dalkey Archive Chad Post writes about putting together a list of every book published by Dalkey Archive Press, in Who Doesn't Love a Checklist ?; see the list of 956 titles here.

       I'm hoping to catalogue my Dalkey collection (indeed, my entire collection) sometime next year; Dalkey Archive Press is certainly among the best-represented publishers in my library; I suspect I have 600 or so. And 319 Dalkey titles are currently under review at the complete review.

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

       Museum of Hong Kong Literature

       Xinhua reports that Hong Kong's first literary museum sows seed of hope and exchange, reporting on the Museum of Hong Kong Literature.

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

3 June 2024 - Monday

Mortal Leap review

       Mortal Leap review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of MacDonald Harris' 1964 novel Mortal Leap, recently re-issued by Boiler House Press in their Recovered Books-series.

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

2 June 2024 - Sunday

Salomes in June

       Salomes in June

       If you're looking to get in the mood to read my recent novel Salome in Graz there are a couple of productions of the Richard Strauss opera version you can catch in June: the Vienna State Opera is reviving theirs -- the Cyril Teste production, conducted by Philippe Jordan, with Camilla Nylund in the title role --, with performances on the 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th, and the Houston Symphony is putting on a concert version on the 7th and 9th, with Jennifer Holloway as Salome. (There's something to be said -- so also by the protagonists of my novel ... -- for the concert-version, without the distractions of all the acting-out of the scenes .....)

       The Vienna State Opera information page has a rather basic 'Nice to Know'-feature (scroll down), where they note Gustav Mahler's enthusiasm for the work, and that he:
wanted to bring the work to the Vienna Court Opera. But the censors thwarted his plans and banned the opera due to »moral« concerns. It was not until 1918 that Salome celebrated its premiere at the Vienna State Opera.
       But no mention that when it couldn't be staged at the leading Viennese opera house they performed it in Graz -- the production that gives my novel its title --, with Mahler in attendance ! (The story behind the difficulties in getting permission to stage it are also discussed some in the novel; Wilde's play, which the opera is based on, of course faced similar difficulties: a good part of the 'Salome'-story involves not only how it was presented but often how it was not presented, one of the many aspects of the treatment of the Salome-story over the centuries which my novel gets into .....)

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

1 June 2024 - Saturday

Paul Theroux Q & A | John Burnside (1955-2024)
Gender bias in men's reading habits

       Paul Theroux Q & A

       At The Collidescope George Salis has a Q & A with the Burma Sahib-author, in The Grit That Makes the Pearl: An Interview With Paul Theroux.
       Among his responses:
GS: What novel do you think deserves more readers ? Why ?

PT: I love Madam[e] Bovary. It has tons of admirers, of course, but needs more, as all great novels do. A vastly underrated or overlooked writer is the English novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Taylor -- maybe it’s her name. I think she’s wonderful.

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

       John Burnside (1955-2024)

       English poet and author John Burnside has passed away; see, for example, the obituary in The Guardian.
       The only one of his works under review at the complete review is The Dumb House.

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

       Gender bias in men's reading habits

       The Women's Prize Trust reports on new research they've commissioned, finding, sadly but probably unsurprisingly, that: "men overwhelmingly reject books written by women in favour of male authors"; see their press release, Gender bias in men’s reading habits still exists.
       UK data shows:
Just one of the top 20 bestselling female writers of fiction and non-fiction in 2023 was purchased mainly by men – Harper Lee – whereas seven of the top 20 bestselling male writers of fiction and non-fiction in 2023 were purchased mainly by women
       The complete review remains ridiculously gender-imbalanced; there is certainly no conscious bias against women writers but obviously something is at work here; the historic imbalance of what gets translated surely plays a significant role (but doesn't seem sufficient to explain it all). (This has improved greatly in recent years -- many more books by women are being translated --, but the trickle-down effect to the site has been slow.)
       Over the past three months books by Iris Murdoch, Elisa Shua Dusapin, Kate Briggs, Iman Mersal, George Sand, Amélie Nothomb, Scarlett Thomas, Kay Dick, Simone Weil, and Jane Ellen Harrison -- among other women -- have been reviewed at the site; that seems like a pretty good spread of women authors to me -- but, yes, books by men still dominate .....

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

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