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Viewing Blog: the Literary Saloon, Most Recent at Top
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1. Prémio Camões

       They've announced that this year's Prémio Camões -- the leading Portuguese-language author prize -- will go to Raduan Nassar; see, for example, the report at Globo (with a convenient full list of previous winners at the end).
       Penguin Classics have recently published two of his titles -- though the editions are not yet US-available; get your copy of A Cup of Rage at Amazon.co.uk, and of Ancient Tillage at Amazon.co.uk.

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2. David Tod Roy (1933-2016)

       David Tod Roy has passed away; he is best-known for his translation of the classic Chinese novel The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei; see the Princeton University Press publicity page (for volume one), or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. (I've only read the old four-volume Clement Egerton translation, The Golden Lotus (with its (in)decorous Latin passages ...) -- decades ago -- and would love to tackle this one at some point.)
       No English-language obituaries yet that I could find -- but see, for now, for example, My life: David Tod Roy from a coupe of years ago at the South China Morning Post.

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3. Prettiest German books

       Stiftung Buchkunst have announced the prettiest German books 2016 -- twenty-five titles selected from 788 submissions; the official prize ceremony will be on 8 September.
       Some interesting titles among the honored titles -- and also interesting to see the print-runs of the various books (numbers which I suspect are more reliable than when these are tossed around by US publishers ...) -- so, for example, the German edition of Zaza Burchuladze's adibas was 4000; I wonder how many copies Dalkey Archive Press printed (or sold ... though, hey, the Amazon.com page says: "Only 20 left in stock (more on the way)" (but also: "Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,681,366 in Books")).

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4. Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the (Australian) Miles Franklin Literary Award.
       There's still quite a wait until they announce the winner of the A$60,000 prize -- on 26 August.

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5. The Queue review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Basma Abdel Aziz's The Queue, just out from Melville House.

       Some nice related coverage in The New York Times today too, as Alexandra Alter reports that Abdel Aziz and other Middle Eastern Writers Find Refuge in the Dystopian Novel.

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6. Writing from ... Indonesia

       With Indonesia as the Guest of Honour at last year's Frankfurt Book Fair there has been a bit more international coverage -- and more translations than usual (still only a handful, but still ...) -- of the local literature, and in The Guardian Louise Doughty now takes a look at '17,000 islands of imagination': discovering Indonesian literature.
       Works by several Indonesian authors -- including some mentioned in the piece -- are under review at the complete review -- though also not nearly enough.

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7. Patrick White at 104

       It would have been Australian Nobel laureate Patrick White's 104th birthday yesterday -- as good an excuse as any to read some of his books (even if many are still/again woefully hard to fnd in print ...).
       I missed this a couple of weeks ago, but in the Sydney Morning Herald Linda Morris recently reported that National Library secures Patrick White's first book of poems.
       My favorite part of the story:

White wrote to the National Library saying if they didn't take their copy of his other poetry anthology off shelves he'd steal it himself and destroy it.

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8. Burmese 'House of Literature'

       In The Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports that 'plans for a writers' hub inch closer to fruition' in Rangoon, in House of Literature.
       The selected building/site may have some symbolic appeal but looks hideous; still, if they can finally get this done (if: "the planned House of Literature project faces major delays", even now ...), that would be pretty neat.

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9. The Hotel of the Three Roses review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Augusto De Angelis 1936 mystery, The Hotel of the Three Roses, the second to come out from Pushkin Press, in their Vertigo imprint, this year (with another to follow).

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10. Edith Grossman Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Liesl Schillinger continues her series of Q & As with translators with the third instalment, Edith Grossman on Reading Spanish and the Pitfalls of Literalism.
       Among the observations:

There are times when I'm translating seven days a week. When I was younger, I was doing seven hours a day, but now I'm down to five.
       Quite a few of her translations are under review at the complete review -- including Carlos Rojas' The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico GarcíaLorca Ascends to Hell, and it's good to hear she's working on another Rojas novel (which The Modern Novel already has under review (where he notes that it appears, to (then-)date only to have been translated into ... Hungarian and Russian -- this despite the fact that, as Grossman notes, Rojas has long been Atlanta-based)).

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11. Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the classic eighteenth-century Japanese play, Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy, just out in a paperback re-issue (alas, a fairly pricey one) from Columbia University Press.
       Do not expect many calligraphic revelations -- but it is certainly an entertaining piece.

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12. Q & A: Can Xue

       At Sixth Tone Zang Jixian has a Q&A with Author Can Xue on the State of Chinese Literature
       Can Xue is the author whose The Last Lover won last year's Best Translated Book Award (for which I was a judge); see also the Yale University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Among the interesting/depressing answers:

Zang Jixian: Your works are gaining a large readership in the English-speaking world. What would you say are the reasons ?

Can Xue: It's mostly because I integrate a lot of Western cultural elements in my work. I believe I'm doing the best job among Chinese writers in that aspect. Therefore, foreign readers can accept my work as literature.
       And:
Zang Jixian: Could you evaluate the current situation of China's literary world ?

Can Xue: I've said it before: I have no hope, and I don't feel like evaluating it.
       Ouch.

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13. Q & A: Fariba Hachtroudi

       At Sampsonia Way they now have a transcript of their Q&A with Fariba Hachtroudi, whose The Man Who Snapped His Fingers recently came out from Europa Editions; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       I do like this reaction:

The publisher suggested cutting the length of the book. And I said, "Instead of trimming the book, I'm going to add."
       (Her reasoning is, of course, entirely sensible.)

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14. Translation pieces at the Literary Hub

       At the Literary Hub they have six new translation-related pieces (as they're apparently 'Celebrating Translation Month', whatever that might be ...).
       It's all worth a look -- despite some really lax fact-checking in several places ..... (E.g.: "In 2015, 570 translated books were published in the United States" writes Anjali Enjeti -- relying on the invaluable Three Percent database, but ignoring what databaser Chad Post always makes very clear, that that refers only to: "titles that have never before appeared in English" (in the US); the actual number of 'translated books' published is, of course many times larger, thanks to new translations of previously translated titles and, especially, reprints of previously published translations.)

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15. Yang Jiang (1911-2016)

       One suspects that the reason for obituaries in e.g. The New York Times and The Washingotn Post have more to do with her centenarian- than literary-status; regardless, the death of Chinese author (and translator) Yang Jiang deserves the notice -- even if her work hasn't made much of an English impression.
       She's perhaps best know in the English-speaking world as the wife of Qian Zhongshu, author the classic Fortress Besieged; see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, but her own companion piece of sorts, Baptism, -- though much harder to find -- is also worth a look; see the Hong Kong University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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16. Pan Tadeusz Museum

       Adam Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz is, of course, the great(est) Polish epic poem, and they've now opened up a museum dedicated to it, in Wrocław, the Muzeum Pana Tadeusza.
       Looks pretty fancy; see also, for example, the Radio Poland report, Museum dedicated to Polish literary classic.
       And if you're tempted to dip into the Mickiewicz in preparation for a visit, the dual-language Hippocrene Books edition of Pan Tadeusz, with the translation by Kenneth R. MacKenzie, looks like a handy volume; don't bother with their publicity-page (the world's least impressive publicity-page for a book ?), but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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17. Stone Tablets review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Wojciech Żukrowski's Stone Tablets, a 1966 Polish novel -- set in 1950s India, no less -- that's only now appearing in English, from Paul Dry Books.

       (I was amused when I realized that I've actually read a work by Żukrowski before -- his Nieśmiały narzeczony, in a German translation (Der schüchterne Bräutigam) in a flimsy little East German paperback in Aufbau Verlag's paperback 'bb'-line that I picked up and read in the mid-1980s.)

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18. Prize: Sunday Times Fiction Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's (South African) Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize
       The winner will be announced 25 June.

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19. Prize: Dylan Thomas Prize

       The International Dylan Thomas Prize is only limitedly international -- "The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under", but I guess 'international' sounds better than 'monolingual' ... -- but is otherwise a nice idea, and they've announced that this year's winner is Grief is the Thing with Feathers (by Max Porter).
       The US edition is due out shortly, from Graywolf Press -- pre-order your copy at Amazon.com -- or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk.

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20. Frédéric Dard

       Good to see some Frédéric Dard anticipation-excitement building, as Pushkin Press are set to publish a couple by the prolific (and super-best-selling) French master -- even if it comes with horrific headlines such as 'Unknown' French author's noir crime novels set for UK, as Dalya Alberge writes in The Observer.
       'Unknown' in quotation marks indeed -- Dard has sold ... more than most (literally hundreds of millions of copies). But, yes, he's not well-represented in English (but I did slip him in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction because ... Frédéric Dard ! come on !).
       And, yes, Pushkin's commissioning editor Daniel Seton is correct in noting that one reason so little has been translated into English is because especially the San-Antonio books (the bulk of his output) rely on language-play that's hard to translate, while these 'novels of the night' (that Pushkin is focusing on): "are less reliant on that kind of wordplay". Nevertheless, the translator of the first title they're publishing is none other than master word-playing translator David Bellos. It's already under review at the complete review, too: Bird in a Cage.
       Reviews of the other ones will follow just as soon as I can get my hands on them.

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21. Lydia Davis Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Liesl Schillinger inaugurates what sounds like a promising series of conversations with literary translators which, she explains: "reflect my desire to learn as much as I could about these masters, and to share with you some of the secrets of their art: I wanted to translate the translators".
       First up in this series of/on 'Multilingual Wordsmiths' is Lydia Davis and Translationese.

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22. 'The Sound of Translation' panel

       On Tuesday 17 May, at 19:30, there will be a panel on The Sound of Translation at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, moderated by Liesl Schillinger (who is obviously prepped and ready for some serious translation discussion; see above), with Tess Lewis, Rüdiger Wischenbart, Ross Ufberg, and yours truly.
       As if that weren't exciting enough, it's a three-for-one event, as this year's ACFNY Translation Prize will also be launched, and the Diversity Report 2016 will be introduced.

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23. The Bulgarian Truck review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dumitru Tsepeneag's A Building Site Beneath the Open Sky, The Bulgarian Truck, recently published by Dalkey Archive Press.

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24. Norway 2019 Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair

       Planning ahead, they've announced that Norway is the Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2019.
       This year's guest of honour will be Flanders and the Netherlands, followed by France (2017) and Georgia (2018)
       Norway "boasts some of Europe's leading contemporary writers" I note in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (sorry -- no shame here re. plugs and reminders why you need this book) -- indeed, it might be one of the few countries which doesn't even really need that Frankfurt-boost (though of course the same could be said for juggernaut-in-translation France ...); still, this should be good.

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25. Caine Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Caine Prize for African Writing -- selected from 166 stories by writers from 23 African countries.
       You can read the shortlisted stories at the official site; the winner will be announced 4 July, in Oxford (yes, the Oxford in the UK, because ... it's a prize for African writing, so ... of course ...).

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