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


1 March 2024 - Friday

Preise der Leipziger Buchmesse | EUPL finalists

       Preise der Leipziger Buchmesse

       The biggest German book prize -- yes, the German Book Prize -- is awarded in the fall, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but the spring Leipzig Book Fair competes well with their trio of prizes, awarded for a work of a fiction, a work of non-fiction/essay, and a translation, and they've now announced the five finalists for each of those prizes -- selected from 486 submissions (which, sigh, are not revealed).
       A graphic novel is one of the fiction finalists -- Genossin Kuckuck, by Anke Feuchtenberger (Reprodukt) -- while Wolf Haas also has a book in the running. The one I'm most curious about is Barbi Marković's Minihorror -- see the Residenz Verlag foreign rights page --, which I was already very tempted to acquire when I was last in Austria; she's an interesting author (beginning with the Thomas Bernhard 'remix', Izlaženje).
       The translations up for that prize include a Lawrence Ferlinghetti-collection, and Bora Chung's Cursed Bunny.
       The winners will be announced 21 March.

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



       EUPL finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's European Union Prize for Literature, one work each chosen ("nominated by national entities knowledgeable about the literary scene in their countries and used to promoting their own literature abroad") from the thirteen countries vying for the prize this year. (The prize rotates through the: "41 countries participating in the Creative Europe programme of the European Union", with thirteen or fourteen up each third year.)
       So:
The seven members of the European jury will now read excerpts from all the nominated books and make their choice in the upcoming month to award one EUPL Prize winner for this edition, together with recognising five special mentions.
       Excerpts, sigh ..... But it's a well-meaning prize, and the language hurdle is obviously an enormous one. (I also can't help but note that for a prize meant to encourage: "greater interest in non-national literary works" there is an awful lot of national focus in the way the prize is set up .....)
       You can learn more about the nominated authors here (and, yes, their works, too ...).
       The winning title will be announced 4 April.

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



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" .....
       And:
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.
       Sigh.

(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 then next one is.)
       (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 Qantara.de 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 -



       Jeanette-Schocken-Preis

       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 -



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 swissinfo.ch 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 Qantara.de 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 -



       Bluesky

       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.”

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       Benyamin Q & A

       At Scroll.in 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.

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       Censorship in ... Kazakhstan

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

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10 February 2024 - Saturday

PEN/Faulkner Award longlist | Blue Lard review

       PEN/Faulkner Award longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction -- ten titles selected from 445 (unfortunately not revealed) eligible novels and short story collections, from 205 publishing houses.
       The only one of the titles I've seen is Catherine Lacey's Biography of X.

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       Blue Lard review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vladimir Sorokin's notorious 1999 novel, Blue Lard, finally out in English, from New York Review Books, in Max Lawton's translation.

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9 February 2024 - Friday

Geetanjali Shree Q & A | Katerina Clark (1941-2024)
Lionel Gelber Prize shortlist

       Geetanjali Shree Q & A

       In the Indian Express Saumya Rastogi has a Q & A with the Tomb of Sand author, in ‘We should not agonise about what is lost in translation’: Geetanjali Shree.

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       Katerina Clark (1941-2024)

       Katerina Clark -- best-known for her classic work on The Soviet Novel; see the Indiana University Press publicity page -- has passed away; see, for example, the Yale University Department of Comparative Literature report, In Memory of Katerina Clark.

       I have, and have been fascinated, by her recent Eurasia without Borders: The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919-1943 -- see the Harvard University Press publicity page -- and hope to get a review up sooner or later.

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       Lionel Gelber Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Lionel Gelber Prize -- awarded: "for the world's best non-fiction book on international affairs published in English" --; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       The winner will be announced on 6 March.

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8 February 2024 - Thursday

Translation Prizes | Story Prize longlist

       Translation Prizes

       The Society of Authors has announced the winners of this year's Translation Prizes.

       None of the winning titles are under review at the complete review, but several (co-)runners-up are:
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       Story Prize longlist

       The Story Prize announced its three-title shortlist a month ago -- but only now reveals the full longlist, twenty books selected from the 113 (unfortunately not revealed) books by 84 different publishers or imprints they considered.
       The winner will be announced 26 March.

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7 February 2024 - Wednesday

Parliamentary Book Awards | Writing in ... Belarus | Writing in ... Rwanda
Comics success in France | Plutarch Award longlist

       Parliamentary Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's (British) Parliamentary Book Awards -- voted for by parliamentarians ! -- with MP Jesse Norman winning the award for Best Non-Fiction/Fiction by a Parliamentarian, for his novel, The Winding Stair. (Norman had already won a Parliamentary Book Award in 2018.)

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       Writing in ... Belarus

       At Eurozine Andrej Chadanovič considers, among other questions: "Why are books being banned and their authors not permitted to meet with readers in today’s Belarus ?" in Belarus and the ghosts of the wild hunt.

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       Writing in ... Rwanda

       At GlobalVoices Zita Zage writes about How Rwanda's literary giants promoted their country's rich culture through their work.

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       Comics success in France

       In The Guardian Phil Hoad reports ‘We didn’t expect this phenomenon to last’: France’s comic-book tradition is hitting new heights, as the 'BD' market has: "almost doubled in size from 48.4m sales a year to 87.2m"
       See also the site of the recently concluded Angoulême International Comics Festival.

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       Plutarch Award longlist

       The Biographers International Organization has announced the longlist for this year's Plutarch Award, a best biography award, ten titles selected from some 200 (unfortunately unidentified) books.

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6 February 2024 - Tuesday

Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist | Prix Sade longlist
Why Surrealism Matters review

       Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist

       The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, which: "rewards the best fiction by small presses publishing 12 or fewer titles a year and are wholly independent of any other commercial financial entity" has announced its latest longlist -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked. But see one of the judges, Declan O'Driscoll, writing on Choosing the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2024 longlist at the Irish Times.
       I've only seen one of these ten titles -- Barcode.

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       Prix Sade longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's prix Sade -- a French prize awarded for an erotic work of literature; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Two of the titles are translations: the French editions of Arch Brown's A Pornographer and Jose Ando's ジャクソンひとり; the latter is due out in English from Soho Press; see also the New River Literary information page.
       The winner will be announced 28 September.

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       Why Surrealism Matters review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mark Polizzotti's Why Surrealism Matters, recently out from Yale University Press.

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