What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<November 2014>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: the Literary Saloon, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 10,631
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Statistics for the Literary Saloon

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 4
1. Bookselling in ... Taiwan

       At CNN Johan Nylander reports on Nightclubs for literature ? Why book selling is booming in Taiwan, looking at the success of the Eslite book chain -- as, for example:

The Eslite store in central Taipei opens 24 hours and has more night owl visitors than most Western bookstores could dream of during their daytime hours.
       But, yes:
Eslite's success may seem counter-intuitive especially when it seems most late-night visitors treat it like a library, leaving empty handed after hours of free reading.

Add a Comment
2. Strand bookstore profile

       In this week's issue of New York Christopher Bonanos profiles New York's enormous ('18 Miles of Books') Strand bookstore, in The Strand's Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon.
       Certainly, the fact that in 1996 they bought the building that houses the store (and thus are able to set their own rent, and collect rent on much of the remaining space) makes survival a lot easier (though one hopes they recall that the similarly legendary Gotham Book Mart also owned its prime real estate, and that didn't work out so well ...).
       I used to live nearby, and frequented it frequently (along with doing the rounds of all the other now-lost neighborhood bookstores); I still need my regular fix -- monthly or so -- but the 2003 renovation took a lot of the soul out of the place and it isn't quite the treasure-trove it used to be. ("Fifteen percent of the store's revenue now comes from merch", which pretty much says it all.) Still, rare is the visit when I don't pick up something (or an armload) because I know I'm unlikely to easily or ever find it anywhere else ever again.

Add a Comment
3. Nagasaki review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Éric Faye's Nagasaki, the 2010 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française winner out from Gallic Books (in the UK; coming to the US in January).

Add a Comment
4. Nobel's library

       The official Nobel Prize site continues to impress with the wealth of information available on it. Okay, I don't really need to know the contents of each and every of the Menus at the Nobel Banquet 1901-2013 -- but I do like stuff like that catalogue of Alfred Nobel's Private Library
       Given the criticism the literature prize gets -- especially for its early choices -- it's interesting to see what Nobel had in his own library -- and revealing that, for example, he had a tidy Tolstoy collection (much of it in Russian, no less) but not a volume by the first Nobel laureate, Sully Prudhomme (a prize Tolstoy could -- and arguably should -- have won).
       First off, the Nobel winners -- a mix of the predictable (Nordic) ones and a few of the early stand-outs: Nobel's collection included works by: Henrik Pontoppidan (1917), Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1916), Paul Heyse (1910), Selma Lagerlöf (1909), Rudyard Kipling (1907), and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1903). (It makes me wonder yet again about the now-forgotten Verner von Heidenstam, whose citation reads: "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature" -- what era was that ? But Nobel had a bunch of his work, and he was translated into English back in the day.)
       The only surprising missing laureate-name is Knut Hamsun, whose work was already fairly well-known before Nobel's death.
       An interesting mix of other titles, too: no Dickens, for example, but Edward Bulwer-Lytton's notorious (for its: "It was a dark and stormy night ..." opening) Paul Clifford, and overall really quite a decent literary collection (in an impressive selection of languages).
       (Also good to see: Karl Gutzkow's Die Ritter vom Geiste -- one of those big German books Arno Schmidt introduced me (and so many others) to (as noted also, of course, in my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy).)

Add a Comment
5. Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards

       I noted yesterday that it was great to see the announcement of a new prize, the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature for writing in Kiswahili; among prizes already honoring work in a variety of African languages is the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards, "for all 11 official South African languages".
       They rotate through genres, and this year was a drama year. They received 117 entries -- and 86 of those were in African languages (meaning, I'm guessing, excluding English ... (and Afrikaans ?)) -- and they have now announced the finalists; Books Live has the complete run-down, in Winners of the 2014 Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards Announced

Add a Comment
6. Tristana review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Margaret Jull Costa's new translation of Benito Pérez Galdós' classic, Tristana -- yes, the basis for the 1970 Luis Buñuel film with Catherine Deneuve in the title-role -- coming out from New York Review Books.

       It's apparently Pérez Galdós-revival time -- a (new ?) translation in the Everyman's Library (see the ... cover) of his masterpiece, Fortunata and Jacinta, is one of the big upcoming publications of 2015 -- but much as I'm glad to see these works reworked and him getting attention, it would be neat if some of the still untranslated fiction was (also) made available, given how many huge piles of it still haven't been. (Not that anyone could easily get their hands on the old translation of Tristana, either .....) I can see these as the easier sell, but Pérez Galdós is one of the Spanish greats, and it's about time more of his work was available in English (for the first, not -- as in these cases -- the second or third time).
       Well, maybe these, if nicely successful, will help open the floodgates.

Add a Comment
7. Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

       Yes, "Major New Prize for African Literature Announced", the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature, and that's certainly very welcome.

The prize recognizes excellent writing in African languages and encourages translation from, between and into African languages.
       Which is certainly admirable -- though excellent writing in African languages might be easier to recognize if the prize weren't restricted to just one of them ... (as the prize is for: "the best unpublished manuscripts or books in Kiswahili published within two years of the award year").
       Still, as (Gikuyu-writing author) Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o notes:
Prizes have generally been used to drown African Literature in African languages under a Europhone flood. [...] I hope that this prize becomes an invitation for other African languages to do the same and much more.
       (There are/have been some (generally regional/national prizes) honoring work in African languages, but this looks like the grandest in scale to date; the money is good too)
       Let's hope prizes in other major African languages follow suit -- though the real dream is, of course, to finally see a truly pan-African prize in which submissions can be in any language.

Add a Comment
8. Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

       Just three weeks ago I noted that The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and A Forgotten Genocide, by Gary Bass, had picked up the Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award, and now it has picked up the next (and even more remunerative) honor, winning the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature -- a Canadian prize (that pays out in US dollars -- a tidy 75,000 for the winner).
       See the Vintage publicity page for the book, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Add a Comment
9. Lydia Davis reading Dag Solstad

       'Tis, sadly, already newspaper/magazine literary-silly-season -- meaning, astonishingly, things get even sillier than usual, with periodicals filling their pages (prematurely) with their 'best of the year'-selections -- see, for example, Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2014, Kirkus Reviews' Best Fiction Books of 2014, and The Washington Post's The top 50 fiction books for 2014.
       Slightly more interesting than these are the contributors'/authors' favorites of the year that a variety of publications always publish -- the Times Literary Supplement's is always a favorite, The Guardian/The Observer always has a good line-up, The Spectator .....
       Among the first up this year: the New Statesman offers their: Books of the Year: NS friends and contributors choose their favourite reading of 2014.
       Worth it just for Can't and Won't-author Lydia Davis, who reveals:

One of the most interesting books for me this past year has been the latest "novel" by the much-laurelled Norwegian Dag Solstad.
       (As longtime readers know, I revere Shyness and Dignity-author Dag Solstad, the Scandinavian author -- along with, perhaps, Per Olov Enquist -- most deserving of the Nobel Prize, if they dare pick anyone from that region anytime soon.)
       Even more impressively:
Since the book, known familiarly over there as "Telemark novel" (its full title is long), does not exist in English, I have been struggling, happily, to make what I can of it in Norwegian
       Way to go Ms. Davis !
       (The book is -- suggested English title -- The Insoluble Epic Element in Telemark in the Years 1592-1896; see the Aschehoug Agency information page (and, hey, the opening words are, apparently: "Read slowly, one word at a time, if you want to understand what I am saying", which is presumably what Davis is doing). I'm hoping for imminent translation into English (though I'll settle for: in my lifetime -- and am tempted to seek out a Norwegian copy, to try to make my way through it Davis-style ...).)

Add a Comment
10. Coming to NY: New Literature from Europe festival

       This year's New Literature from Europe festival -- Crossing Borders: Europe Through the Lens of Time -- is on 5 and 6 December.
       As always, a nice little line-up (though the only title under review at the complete review so far is Viviane, by Julianne Deck).

       Flabbergasting, however: the site with the URL newlitfromeurope.org -- surely the one you'll be pointed to if you 'Google' (or whatever you do) for 'New Literature from Europe' -- only offers information about last year's festival, while the official site for this year's festival is apparently newlitfromeurope.wordpress.com. Why not update the old site (archiving the 2013 information there too, so it's nicely all together ...) ?

Add a Comment
11. Coming to NY: Russian Literature Week !

       It's Russian Literature Week ! 1 to 5 December.
       Some pretty interesting-sounding panels, definitely worth a look.

Add a Comment
12. (American) National Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of the 2014 (American) National Book Awards.
       Redeployment, by Phil Klay, won the fiction prize; I can imagine almost no circumstances under which I would review this title, but see the Penguin Press publicity page or get your copy at Amazon.com, or pre-order it at Amazon.co.uk.

Add a Comment
13. Cubanabooks

       The number of recently and newly-founded presses devoted to literature in translation continues to impress -- the promising Deep Vellum just released its first title, for example, and the still very young Hispabooks has already done an impressive job of bringing literature from Spain to English-speaking readers in a very short time.
       New to me is Cubanabooks, but a just-received stack of their six fiction titles easily wins me over. With a focus on: "contemporary literature by Cuban women writers" they offer the sort of things we're unlikely to otherwise see -- and, impressively, their books are bilingual editions; in a country (the US) where Spanish is widely spoken and read, that seems like a great way of making these works accessible to the largest possible audience, from native speakers more comfortable reading the originals to those without any Spanish who can rely entirely on the translated versions.
       Surely worth a closer look -- the just-released The Bleeding Wound, by Mirta Yáñez looks like a great place to satrt; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Add a Comment
14. Kertész Q & A

       At hlo they reprint an excerpt from An interview with Imre Kertész by Thomas Cooper from The Hungarian Quarterly.
       See also my review of Kertész's The Holocaust as Culture, which is mentioned here and surely deserves to get more attention than it has so far.

Add a Comment
15. Korean Literature Translation Awards

       The Korea Times prints the judges' report -- by Brother Anthony, Jung Ha-yun, and Min Eun-kyung -- for the 45th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards.
       One of their more positive reports in recent years -- though sad/interesting to note: "In the poetry category, only four entries were received". But at least fiction-translation seems to be thriving.

Add a Comment
16. The Three-Body Problem review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem -- one of this year's most anticipated translations, as the first blockbuster science fiction title out China to make it into English.

       Interesting publishing side-notes: after some back-and-forth publisher Tor went with a Western-style arrangement for the author's name on the cover: 'Cixin Liu'. While Japanese authors' names have long been written 'Western' style ('Yukio Mishima', 'Haruki Murakami') only recently have publishers ventured to 'westernize' Korean names ('Young-ha Kim' and 'Kyung-sook Shin' are the first to get the Western treatment, while, for example, Dalkey Archive Press' Library of Korean Literature still adheres to the Korean-(/Chinese-/Japanese-)style of writing family names first ('Mao Zedong')), and I can't recall seeing it used for a translation-from-the Chinese (well, excluding also-English-writing authors like Zhang Ailing). (House style at the complete review is home-turf style wherever the book was first published -- hence: 'Liu Cixin' (and 'Kertész Imre, etc.).) I am curious to see whether this takes.

       On a more troubling note: the work is translated by Ken Liu -- but the copyright page insists:

English translation © 2014 by China Educational Publications Import & Export Corp. Ltd
       That's just outrageous.

Add a Comment
17. 'Public Domain Rank' for authors ?

       Allen B. Riddell's 'Public Domain Rank: Identifying Notable Individuals with the Wisdom of the Crowd' (see abstract or (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) full text) is an interesting attempt at: "identifying authors of notable works throughout history". The main purpose is to identify works coming into the public domain -- determining which ones are most worth preserving -- but the methodology also works for authors whose work won't be in the public domain for quite a while, with Riddell suggesting:

A second application arise from treating the Public Domain Rank as a general, independent index of an individual's importance for contemporary audiences.
       So how well does this thing work ?
       Admirably (and entertainingly) there's an easy-to-use Public Domain Rank Browser -- allowing anyone to see for themselves.
       The results are ... actually rather disappointing.
       Okay, I've been complaining that Arno Schmidt hasn't been getting his due -- hence my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (you've got your copy, right ?) -- but does he really rank just 62nd among authors who died in 1979 ?
       Okay, maybe I'm a little too close to that one; how about Brecht -- 17th among authors who died in 1956 ? And among authors who died in 1989, surely I'm not alone in believing Samuel Beckett (12th) and Thomas Bernhard (33rd) rate higher ?
       How about a bumper year like 1970 ? Some authors of considerable note who died that year fare pretty poorly:
  • S.Y.Agnon - 21st
  • John Dos Passos - 22
  • Paul Celan - 54
  • John O'Hara - 57
  • Jean Giono - 68
  • Erich Maria Remarque - 77
  • Stanley Edgar Hyman - 86
  • Unica Zürn - 146
  • Nelly Sachs - 173
  • François Mauriac - 188
  • Mishima Yukio - 373 (or thereabouts -- it's hard to keep track that far down the list)
       Do these rankings really reflect their relative: "importance for contemporary audiences" (especially when you consider some of the higher-ranked names) ? Methinks ... not so much.
       And consider even a year long in the public domain -- 1910, where the top four author are, in order:
  1. Ambrose Bierce
  2. Mark Twain
  3. Goldwin Smith
  4. Leo Tolstoy
       Any formula that puts Goldwin Smith ahead of Tolstoy ... maybe not entirely reliable.
       Still, fun to play with, and maybe a decent place to start. But it could certainly use some tinkering.

Add a Comment
18. David R. Godine profile

       In the Boston Globe Mark Shanahan profiles David R. Godine (of the eponymous publishing house), in Beyond sales, Boston publisher's devotion speaks volumes.
       Godine now famously published (and kept in print) a couple of Patrick Modiano titles, even as for year they were ... not exactly flying off the shelves ("I couldn't sell them to Chicago for landfill", in his words), which has now paid off (see, for example, my review of Honeymoon). But that's just the tip of an excellent list -- notable also for its many Georges Perec titles.

Add a Comment
19. Translations from ...Chinese

       The Translation Databases at Three Percent offer a good overview of most of what has been translated into English and published in the US in 2014, from all languages (though the upcoming long overdue update will certainly offer a better picture ...), but it can still be helpful to have more specific lists -- like Paper Republic's 2014 translations from Chinese -- a bumper crop.
       This doesn't quite overlap with the Three Percent list, as it includes both US and UK publications (Mo Yan's Frogs, for example, is only coming out in the US in 2015, and will thus only be included on next year's database), but gives a good sense of what has been translated.
       Surprisingly, almost a quarter of the fiction is under review at the complete review -- four titles, with another to follow later this week:

Add a Comment
20. Jaume Cabré profile

       Jaume Cabré's Confessions is now out in English (in the UK ... and elsewhere, having apparently already sold 60,000 copies in Poland; see Bestsellery z wysokiej półki), and in The Scotsman David Robinsom profiles Jaume Cabré: Barcelona's literary superstar.
       See also the Arcadia publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Add a Comment
21. Poetry in ... Poland

       At Eurozine they reprint Lukasz Wojtusik's Q & A with Polish poet Ewa Lipska from New Eastern Europe, A musician of words.
       For a Lipska-sampler, check out The New Century; see the Northwestern University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Add a Comment
22. New issue(s)/look for list

       _list Books from Korea has a new (confusing and messy) look to their site, which doesn't seem to be quite all there yet. The Summer, 2014 issue, which I had not previously seen/linked to is conveniently available; the current one -- apparently with a lot of Ko Un coverage, which you can access via the main page -- not so much.
       I hope they make it more functional/user-friendly, but meanwhile there's some interesting stuff to be found in the summer issue, including the usual reviews.

Add a Comment
23. Leave Me Alone review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Novel of Chengdu by Murong Xuecun, Leave Me Alone.
       This first came out in English from Allen & Unwin in Australia, in 2009, and has now been picked up by Make Do/Forty-six in the UK.

Add a Comment
24. Whitbread Costa shortlists

       They've announced the category shortlists for the Whitbread Costa Book Awards -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked .... See, for example, the report in The Telegraph.
       None of these titles are under review at the complete review, but I do have and will be getting to the Ali Smith (and, if/when I get my hands on a copy, possibly the Neel Mukherjee).

Add a Comment
25. 'Literary' agents

       At The New Republic Stephen Akey writes about 'The problem with literary agents', in My Book Is Not About Vampires or Childhood Trauma. I'm Doomed.
       "I have no problem with the role played by literary agents as cultural gatekeepers", he claims -- but he does seem to have a problem: not with the abstract ideal of such agents as cultural gatekeepers, but the reality of how they perform that role -- concluding that:

in mediating between writer and publisher, the agencies build in an extra layer of exactly what is not needed: more conservatism and caution.
       You know where I stand -- at a safe and cautious ten-foot-pole distance -- but always fun to see yet another perspective on the peculiar business that is the publishing industry.

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts