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Viewing Blog: the Literary Saloon, Most Recent at Top
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1. Enrique Vila-Matas on the future

       At Music & Literature they print Thomas Bumstead's translation of Enrique Vila-Matas' talk when he received the premio Juan Rulfo at the book fair in Guadalajara on 28 November of last year, The Future (original) -- well worth a read.

       (Many Vila-Matas titles are under review at the complete review -- with the recent Because She Never Asked a particular favorite (which I don't think has gotten its due, critically or otherwise).)

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2. Marie Darrieussecq profile

       At news.com.au Emma Reynolds profiles Marie Darrieussecq (Pig Tales, etc.) -- and I was not aware of her role at Charlie Hebdo.

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3. A General Theory of Oblivion review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of José Eduardo Agualusa's A General Theory of Oblivion.

       This is one of two titles -- along with the latest Elena Ferrante -- that is a finalist for both the Best Translated Book Award and the Man Booker International Prize this year, so it's hard not to consider it one of the biggest titles-in-translation of 2015.

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4. Kertész Imre funeral

       As, for example, hlo reports, Imre Kertész laid to rest last Friday, with The Book of Hrabal-author Esterházy Péter and Captivity-author Spiró György delivering the funeral orations for the deceased great.
       The hlo piece has speech excerpts, but you can listen to the Esterházy speech in its entirety in the original -- or read full German and Swedish transcripts. (English ? Ha ... dream on.)

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5. Nigeria Prize for Literature entries

       In The Nation Evelyn Osagie reports that 173 authors in race for NLNG $100k literary prize (meaning, presumably, 173 books, since it's a book prize (though possibly some authors might have entered more than one title ...)).
       The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates through four different genres (poetry, drama, kids' stuff, and prose fiction) -- and they're finally back to the one that counts, which Chika Unigwe won in 2013 -- as she: "beat 213 authors to the prize". (Interesting that there were considerably more entries (entrants) last time around.) Last year was the kid-lit turn, but they didn't find anything was deserving of the prize.
       While this prize will pay out in US dollars (if they award it ...), there's also a literary criticism prize ("open to literary critics from all over the world") which only pays out in local currency -- and while NGN 1,000,000 might sound good, well, it's only about US$5000. Even more depressingly, Osagie reports that they got all of ... two entries for the prize.

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6. Mario Bellatin Q & A

       At Sampsonia Way they now have a transcript of a Q & A with Beauty Salon-author Mario Bellatin.

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7. Prize: International Prize for Arabic Fiction

       They've announced that Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba [مصائر: كونشرتو الهولوكوست والنكبة] by Rabai al-Madhoun has won this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
       The US$50,000 award is one of the leading Arabic literature prizes, and does the best job of publicizing winning works abroad, with most of them appearing in translation in a variety of languages.
       The winning author is not unknown in English, as Telegram published his (IPAF shortlisted) The Lady from Tel Aviv a few years ago; see their publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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8. Prizes: Hugo Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards -- and there's even one of the novel finalists under review at the complete review, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.
       Apparently, there are issues regarding the voting process and campaigns by groups -- of 'Sad Puppies' and 'Rabid Puppies' -- but it's all rather beyond me; see, for example, David Barnett on Hugo awards shortlist dominated by rightwing campaign in The Guardian.

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9. Voroshilovgrad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan's Jan Michalski Prize-winning Voroshilovgrad, just about out from Deep Vellum.

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10. Prize: Austrian State Prize for European Literature

       The Austrian State Prize for European Literature only honors European authors, but as that list of previous winners shows, they have a pretty damn good track record.
       They've now announced the 2016 winner -- albeit only in a ridiculous summary-press release unworthy of the prize -- and it's Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk, who has been reasonably well translated into English. Two of his books are under review at the complete review: Fado and Nine.

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11. Prize: Wellcome Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Wellcome Book Prize (for a book with a: "central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness"), and the £30,000 prize goes to It's All in Your Head (by Suzanne O'Sullivan).
       The US edition is only due out in 2017 (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com), but it's out in paperback in the UK; get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.

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12. Q & A: Barbara Epler

       At the Asymptote blog Frances Riddle has a Q & A with New Directions-publisher Barbara Epler, in Publisher Profile: New Directions
       Lots of interesting observations and comments -- and among the most exciting is the mention that New Directions will be publishing (along with books by many other wonderful authors) some more by much-admired-hereabouts Shyness and Dignity-author Dag Solstad.

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13. Q & A: Me

       At the Columbia University Press blog they have An Interview with M. A. Orthofer, author of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- about the site, the book, and international fiction.

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14. PEN World Voices Festival

       The PEN World Voices Festival officially starts today in New York City, with a lot of promising-sounding events scheduled. A big Mexican focus, but also a lot beyond that -- well worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood.

       And of course my very own The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction makes a good companion volume to all those interested in this sort of thing ..... (Get your copy at your local bookstore, at Amazon.com, on Kindle, etc.)

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15. James Tait Black Prizes shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for James Tait Black Prizes, with four books in the fiction-running (though none of them are under review at the complete review yet ...).

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16. Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

       They've announced that the (£30,000) Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award was awarded to The Human Phonograph (by Jonathan Tel).

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17. Translation in ... India

       In The Hindu Mini Krishnan considers translation (and proper recognition for translators), in Lost in translation.

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18. Signs Preceding the End of the World review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World -- deservingly longlisted for this year's Best Translated Book Award (see my previous mention).

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19. Borges and Cervantes

       At the Literary Hub Ilan Stavans and William P. Childers discuss What Borges Learned From Cervantes: On Language, and the Thin Line Between Fiction and Reality.
       They discuss 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote' at some length -- with Stavans suggesting it's:

arguably his most influential story and -- I don't believe I'm over-inflating it ! -- perhaps the most important one of the entire 20th century
       As long-time readers know, I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I've always admired and enjoyed Borges' (see also my review of his Collected Fictions) and, along with Hugo von Hofmannsthal's 'Chandos-letter' ('Ein Brief'), 'Pierre Menard' is probably the only short story I would count as among the most influential(-on-me) literary works I've read (top twenty-five, certainly; maybe even top ten, depending on the day).

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20. Publishing in ... India

       Vinutha Mallya's lengthy piece on 'The possibilities and pitfalls before India's publishing industry' in The Caravan, Numbers and Letters, is now freely accessible online -- a good overview of the current state of affairs and some of the (logistical and other) issues the industry has to deal with.

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21. Gruppe 47 in Princeton

       Fifty years ago today the German group of everyone-who-was-anyone authors, the 'Gruppe 47', ventured to Princeton for an infamous get-together (that also pretty much killed the group-as-group (though its more-or-less demise was already very much in that late-60s air), and really put Peter Handke on the map).
       They have a page on it at the Princeton University site -- and, more impressively, they have the audio recordings from (almost) all the readings.
       The German feuilletons are full of anniversary coverage, though the impression stateside seems to have been less ... lasting. But maybe someone will publish a translation of Jörg Magenau's new Princeton 66: Die abenteuerliche Reise der Gruppe 47 (see the Klett-Cotta publicity page) ..... Read the rest of this post

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22. The CR Guide on Kindle

       You've already gotten your copy of my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2016), haven't you ?
       It's now available in most formats, in most places (get your local bookstore and library to order copies if, ridiculously, they don't have any at hand !) -- including finally (for some reason it took a while) in a Kindle version. So if that's your preferred format, you can opt for that one now, too.

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23. Publishing in .... India

       At Scroll.in they report that: 'An app that aims to transform reading is a huge bet to attract smartphone warriors to books', in Books 2.0: Juggernaut's bold new social reading and publishing venture goes live on mobiles, as juggernaut launches in India.
       E-publishing has been a complete dud in India, so it will be interesting to see whether "original books tailored for mobile and for India" will fly. It would seem to have some potential -- especially at that pricing -- but it will be interesting to see whether it's actually a viable reading/business model.

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24. Shakespeare's popularity (in the UK)

       At YouGov they offer Shakespeare 400 years on: every play ranked by popularity, as they surveyed 1661 adults and asked: "Which, if any, of the following Shakespeare plays have you ever read or seen ?"
       Romeo and Juliet easily tops the list, the only play which more than half the respondents had seen/read; Hamlet is a somewhat surprising distant (31 per cent) fourth -- and I was very surprised that King Lear didn't even break the top ten.
       (See also the full(er) survey breakdown (warning ! dreaded pdf format !). Among the observations there: Scottish respondents were less likely than the national average to have seen/read Macbeth -- and far behind Londoners; the only play male respondents were more likely to have seen/read than female ones was ... King John (3 per cent to 2), while several plays were far more likely to have been seen/read by women (notably Romeo and Juliet (62:40) and As You Like it (21:10)); and a far-above average (5 per cent) of Londoners answered 'Don't know' (9 per cent).)

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25. Svetlana Alexievich profile

       Nobel laureate (and Voices from Chernobyl-author) Svetlana Alexievich is profiled in the Kyiv Post, as Olga Rudenko describes Svetlana Alexievich on her path in literature.

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