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1. Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel laureate 2015

       Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich was named this year's Nobel laureate (she'll only officially be awarded the prize at the 10 December Nobel award ceremony); my coverage from yesterday provides many of the basic informational links about her, her work, and early reactions to it.

       Was this a surprise ?
       Apparently not -- at least to the extent that a Nobel announcement can be unsurprising. She was -- and long had been -- the odds-on betting favorite (3/1 at Ladbrokes coming into the final day) and, for example, when Aftonbladet asked their critics to name their guesses and their favorites Alexievich was a popular choice.

       Does she deserve the prize ?
       As I suggested in my final Nobel preview -- and as indeed I suggested back in 2013 in assessing her chances back then -- she covers a lot of what one might expect on any Nobel checklist. The Nobel committee continues to show a particular appetite for recent-European-horrors-probing writing, whether about Nazi Europe (Modiano, Kertész), Communist totalitarianism (Herta Müller), or bourgeois society (Jelinek), and Alexievich's bona fides -- a product of the Soviet system (she won Soviet literary prizes back in the 1980s), a citizen of Europe's most totalitarian state, her subject matters -- are unimpeachable. The many other prizes she has won -- quite a variety, too -- suggest there's considerable quality there too.
       English-speaking readers are of course at a disadvantage, because even though she hasn't published very many books, her Voices from Chernobyl is the only one that has been readily available for quite a while, and the only other title that reached much of an audience was Zinky Boys (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). (She has appeared two other times in English, but neither made much of an impression (and it's unlikely you'd come across copies easily): War's Unwomanly Face was published by Soviet publisher Progress Publishers -- and, widely forgotten, a UK edition, in a different translation, of Voices from Chernobyl came out back in 1999 (the book did not take off until Dalkey Archive Press got US rights and commissioned a new translation which was only published in 2005; see also Chad Post's account at Three Percent, Svetlana Alexievich for the Nobel !).)
       The second translation of Voices from Chernobyl won the National Book Critics Circle award for non-fiction, and her more recent works have been widely hailed and very well reviewed in Europe (where they have appeared in many languages -- the US/UK really lags here).
       So overall it's hard to find fault with the Swedish Academy's decision.

       What do I think ?
       Oh, dear. Longtime readers know that I am a fan of fiction, and not so much of non. I don't like memoirs, and I have an aversion to testimony-writing; the modern journalistic fashion for anecdotal and personal stories drvies me nuts (I want my news impersonal and factual (to whatever extent that's possible)). So I'm not the ideal audience for a 'creative' documentary-style writer like Alexievich; indeed, I'd rather not be an audience for it at all.
       That said, I can't really argue with the prize. I think she's worthy and deserving -- even that she's a good choice. But it's not writing that particularly interests me -- and I already dread the imitators that will follow Alexievich's writing path, emboldened by this validation of it. ('No, no ! Turn back !' I want to yell ....)

       One of the fun things about the Nobel is that it's often small publishers that get a bit of glory here. In the Irish Times Eileen Battersby writes about Nobel Prize for Literature: Courage defines Alexievich's work -- and here John O'Brien also talks about how Dalkey came to publish her.
       Meanwhile, small UK publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions did well in nabbing the rights to rights to Время секонд хэнд ('Second-hand time'; see also the literary agency publicity page), a book that suddenly has a much higher profile. (Translator Bela Shayevich has already written a piece for The Guardian explaining how Svetlana Alexievich builds individual voices into a mighty chorus.)

       Last year at a weblog at The New Yorker Philip Gourevitch had already tried to make the case that Nonfiction Deserves a Nobel, and now he gets to crow Nonfiction Wins a Nobel. Similarly, at Slate Katy Waldman cheers that Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize Is a Huge Win for Nonfiction Writing.
       (Again: I can't really disagree -- indeed, I can see at least considering many more non-fiction writers (and note that, while none has gotten one in ages, the Swedish Academy used to consider far more authors who did not write fiction, poetry, or drama (which was also a result of many more such writers getting nominated -- remember, as always: only nominated writers are considered for the prize, and most nominators and nominating bodies nowadays are surely much more likely to suggest a writer of fiction (or poetry) rather than non-fiction)). The thing is: I prefer pure fiction.)

       All sorts of other articles and commentary have appeared, too, almost all of it very supportive -- from BelTA (Svetlana Alexievich: It is not my victory alone, but also a victory of our culture and the country Culture) to Jonathon Sturgeon arguing at Flavorwire Why Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize Is Good for Literature.
       And there's also Peter Boxall at The Conversation arguing Svetlana Alexievich exposes the deep contradictions of the literature Nobel. Boxall suggests/claims:

Alexievich's work is difficult to categorise, and hence difficult to sell, and so nearly invisible
       This is both strange logic and false: Alexievich's first book reportedly sold millions in the Soviet Union, and she has done very well these past few years in much of Europe; it's only in the US/UK that she's been low-visibility -- in no small part because no publisher has been willing to take on more of her work and actually try publishing it.

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2. French prize not-so-longlists

       Several more French literary prizes have cut back their longlists in their second rounds this week: the prix Renaudot (see here) and the prix Médicis (see here).
       The big news here is that Boualem Sansal's 2084 didn't survive to this stage in either one's French-novel category.

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3. (American) National Translation Award shortlists

       The American Literary Translators Association has announced the shortlists for the 2015 National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose.
       Two of the shortlisted prose translations are under review at the complete review -- Running Through Beijing and Why I Killed My Best Friend -- and I've read two of the others (Erpenbck, Jansson). (And I've also read the Tolstoy -- but not in the nominated translation.)

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4. The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to ...

       The winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced at 13:00 CET (7:00 EST), and I will update this post shortly afterwards and then throughout the day with the latest Nobel-related news.

       On the (Stockholm) morning of the announcement there hasn't been much movement on the betting boards -- check out, for example, odds at Ladbrokes and Unibet for last-minute changes. Going into the last hours, Alexievich remains the betting favorite; by comparison: Modiano was tied for fourth favorite, at 10/1, at about the same time last year.

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5. 'Super Thursday'

       It's not just Nobel-announcement day -- in the UK it's apparently 'Super Thursday':

the busiest and most important date in the publishing calendar, when the big firms and big names launch their assault on the Christmas market
       So Robert Colvile explains in The Telegraph, in Too many books ? What 'Super Thursday' tells us about publishing.
       The 383 hardbacks coming out apparently: "represent the publishing industry's best guess at what we actually want to find under our Christmas trees" -- and all I can say is that if that's true I'm relieved I don't live in the UK ..... Read the rest of this post

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6. Governor General's Literary Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the (Canadian) Governor General's Literary Awards (the 'GGs' ...) -- but what I really love about this award is that they have a readily accessible database of all the Titles Submitted to the Governor General's Literary Awards.
       As longtime readers know, I'm a big supporter of transparency in literary awards: an award can have no credibility if it isn't clear what titles are actually being considered for it; the Man Booker notoriously limits what and how many titles can be submitted -- and then won't say what they are (meaning many fine titles might never be in the running in the first place), something that is completely unacceptable.
       Far too few prizes are as open with this information as the GGs are -- and all should be.

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7. Their first (Arno) Schmidt

       I've mentioned the exhibit, Arno Schmidt: Eine Ausstellung in 100 Stationen that's currently at the Akademie der Künste and which sounds like a great overview of the author -- and I remind you that today at 20:00 is the panel on Mein erster Schmidt, as Dietmar Dath, Reinhard Jirgl, Kathrin Röggla, Ingo Schulze, and Uwe Timm talk about their first encounters with Arno Schmidt's work.

       (A reminder, too, that if you can't make it, or need your own introduction to Schmidt, you might want to turn to my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy, conveniently available at Amazon.com, or on Kindle, or at Amazon.co.uk, etc. etc.)

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8. One more day until the Nobel Prize in Literature announcement

       The Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced tomorrow, at 13:00 local time (Stockholm); you'll be able to watch the announcement live at the Nobel site.
       The Swedish Academy decides who gets the prize, and its (new) permanent secretary, Sara Danius, will make the announcement. (Oddly enough, they've just announced that Danius has received a literary prize -- the Gerard Bonniers essäpris; the SEK 100,000 isn't exactly Nobel-money, but it ain't bad. Former permanent secretary Horace Engdahl also won this, in 2010, a year after he had stepped down as permanent secretary.)

       Most of the media coverage takes the betting-lists as starting (and ending) point -- so, for example, we have Camille Bas-Wolhert's AFP report (here at Yahoo), The tough task of predicting a Nobel literature laureate, noting that: "The real experts are usually reluctant to make a prediction".
       In one of the more interesting variations on that, Christian Lorentzen admits to actually betting on the Nobel (and other literary prizes) -- and even finds he's: "still in the black" thanks to his Alice Munro punt -- in explaining My Book-Prize Betting Addiction: A User's Guide to Making Money Off Alice Munro. He has a system -- "I tend to make three categories of bet: (1) a likely winner; (2) a writer I really admire who's also a patriotic favorite; (3) a writer I've reviewed negatively" -- which sounds as good as any. (He also thinks Lyudmila Ulitskaya is a "more likely Russophone winner" than current betting-favorite Svetlana Alexievich.)
       In Svenska Dagbladet they offer a list of 12 heta kandidater för litteraturpriset -- most of whom are among the betting favorites, while Folkbladet gets a few wider-ranging suggestions (though Alexievich is also the most often mentioned name).

       Blogger-speculation includes:

       And extensive discussion continues at:        As to those in the discussion, I don't really have all that much to add, but here a few observations regarding some of them:
  • Svetlana Alexievich: is the betting favorite -- down to 3/1 at Ladbrokes as I write this. With pretty much only her Voices from Chernobyl to go on, English-speaking readers might find it hard to judge her (or see what the fuss is about), but it's worth remembering that she is big in Sweden -- a pile of her books have been published there in recent years -- and that her distinctive literary approach (documentary, basically) is a (perhaps welcome ?) change from the usually honored forms. (The prize almost never has gone to a non-fiction author, but the case for her is pretty good.) Throw in the politics -- she's from Belarus, and her critical stance is of the sort that seems to appeal to the Academy -- and the fact that she's a woman (people apparently do keep count, and Danius has mentioned the sex-imbalance among previous winners) and you have a lot of good reasons why they might give it to her. On the other hand, her (relative) overexposure in Sweden the past year or two might suggest it's just her high visibility that's making her all the rage among the bettors.

  • Jon Fosse: was much-discussed last year already, and as an immensely popular playwright (yeah, that doesn't really register in the US/UK, but elsewhere he is, really) as well as novelist is a plausible candidate too. On the other hand, the fact that he's Scandinavian probably doesn't help -- they're probably pretty cautious about giving it to the local authors. I could see them giving it to him -- but I'd be disappointed if he were selected over fellow Norwegian Dag Solstad.

  • Murakami Haruki: has been mentioned as a favorite for years now, but he probably also elicits the most opposition too, considered too lightweight for the Nobel. I think his output is varied and interesting enough to merit consideration, and I wouldn't be shocked if he won, but the Swedish Academy may well be holding out for a slightly weightier Japanese author to give the prize to (though you have to wonder who might be on the horizon -- perhaps A True Novel-author Mizumura Minae, whose attitude towards Japanese literature (which one might sum up as anti-Murakami; see The Fall of Language in the Age of English) might be exactly the sort of thing the Academy is looking for).

  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o: well, I've been saying for years Ngũgĩ would/should get the prize, and can still think of no good reason why he shouldn't. You can argue politics regarding some of his work, but I can't imagine that's really much of an issue, and given what he's written, as well as everything else (he's from Africa, writes in Gikuyu, has written significant non-fiction) I'm just surprised they haven't gotten around to giving him the prize yet. Not that that means they'll get around to it this year, but he still seems the obvious choice.

  • Philip Roth: I would be terribly disappointed if they gave it to someone who has stopped writing, as Roth claims he has. Not that he isn't deserving, but they had their chances to reward him and didn't, and I hope that ship has sailed.

  • Amos Oz, Adonis, and Peter Handke: might all be worthy winners -- some more than others -- but all already have piles of awards (indeed have been piling them on in the past few years) and at the same time can't get away from all sorts of controversies, including most recently the fuss about it being announced Adonis was to receive the Erich-Maria-Remarque-Peace Prize. While these choices might be defensible, you really have to wonder whether or not the Swedish Academy wants quite as much fuss as selecting one of them would kick up.

  • Ismail Kadare: has also been in the running seemingly forever, and also would be a bit controversial; still, he seems more likely than any from the Oz/Adonis/Handke group.

  • John Banville: has also received a ton of prizes recently, but I have my doubts that the Swedish Academy wants to honor a very European author who also dabbles in mysteries (as Banville does as Benjamin Black).

  • Krasznahorkai László: I'm warming to the idea of a Krasznahorkai win, but can't imagine this is his year -- the Swedish Academy surely doesn't want to follow the Man Booker International Prize so closely. (This won't be a problem in future years, since they're changing that from an author- to a book-prize.)

  • Joyce Carol Oates, Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Thomas Pynchon, and Marilynne Robinson: are the more or less usual American names tossed in the mix. Yes, they haven't given it to someone from the US in quite a while -- but I can't really see any of them getting it, for a variety of reasons (including simply too much variety (Oates) or relatively too little (Robinson). If anyone has a chance I suppose it might be DeLillo, but I can't really see it

  • Maryse Condé and César Aira: are new names on the betting lists -- something always worth a closer look. Both were also in the Man Booker International Prize running ... which is probably also one of the reasons their names have surfaced, and I don't rate either one's chances very highly.
       And, of course, there are the names that aren't on the lists -- Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, for one, who I would wish was among the favorites.
       If it were up to me I'd have the choice down to one between Ngũgĩ, Dowlatabadi, and the similarly deserving Juan Goytisolo -- but as to what the Swedish Academy might have up their sleeve, I really don't know .....
       Well, there are a few more hours left for speculation ..... Read the rest of this post

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9. Prix Goncourt (less-)longlist

       The prix Goncourt -- the top French book prize -- goes through four rather than the usual three rounds, and they've now announced the deuxième sélection -- the not-quite-so-longlist.
       Boualem Sansal's 2084 and Simon Liberati's controversial Eva have made the cut, as have the books by Alain Mabanckou and Mathias Enard.

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10. Writing in ... Nigeria

       In the Financial Times Tolu Ogunlesi writes about A new chapter in Nigeria's literature, describing a literary scene both vibrant and chaotic, where even success is problematic -- as well as relative ("publishers consider a book that shifts 5,000 copies to be a bestseller") -- as:

Commercial success for writers and publishers can be a curse -- attracting the attention of pirates, who are estimated to control 90 per cent of the book, music and film publishing industries in Nigeria.
       Check out also the list of 'Bright stars' at the end of the piece -- a relief not just to find the usual well-known names.

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11. No posthumous Wallanders (?)

       As I mentioned yesterday, Henning Mankell has passed away, and now AFP reports that his publisher insists there will no more Wallander books (written by others in Mankell's name, as the James Bond books now are, or the new 'Stieg Larsson', etc. etc.).
       "Nothing can be approved without my agreement" the publisher claims, but I suspect if the heirs really want to cash in -- and so often they do -- there won't be much that he can do about it. So I wouldn't be too sure that we've seen our last Wallander yet.

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12. Nobel Prize countdown

       They've announced that:

The Swedish Academy will announce this year's Nobel Laureate in literature at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 8 in the Grand Hall in the Exchange.
       It's safe to assume that this announcement signals that they have settled on a winning author (unlike the other Nobels, the literature prize doesn't have a set announcement date; they leave themselves free to announce on any Thursday in October, and so if they had needed more time to deliberate they could have taken it). (Of course, since a new permanent secretary has taken over it's possible she has a different way of doing things and only wants the selection made at the last possible minute, when all the pressure is on .....)

       Media speculation predictably enough focuses on the ready-made bookies' lists -- a good starting point (and movement on them can certainly hint at some of the behind-the-scenes doings), but not something one should rely on too much. Less so this year than most too: there hasn't been that much movement, especially not among authors who didn't feature as favorites last year, and especially not in the time before the final decision (likely) was made. For the most part -- until right near announcement time -- the lists have been probably most useful at the time when the prize had reached the shortlist stage -- not surprisingly, given that that stretches all summer, and when it's more likely that it slips out, one way or another, what authors the academician' are reading -- think Mo Yan a couple of years ago suddenly popping up on the betting-lists, or more recently Jon Fosse and Svetlana Alexievich, who were (and remain) plausible shortlist-candidates. (Of course, it's also worth remembering that the old geezers who seem to be somewhere among the five or ten favorites every year -- think Philip Roth, Adonis, Joyce Carol Oates, Ismail Kadare, and Ko Un this year -- do wind up winning occasionally too: Tomas Tranströmer was a betting-favorite at times in 2010, and in 2011 (when he won it) -- leaving aside the last-hours betting surge obviously due to a leak -- he was among the favorites. (True, 2011 is not a great example, especially regarding the Ladbrokes odds -- Bob Dylan was actually the betting-favorite going into the last days .....)
       Ladbrokes has the most-quoted odds -- but of course that doesn't mean they have the most betting action.
       NicerOdds has a nice odds comparison list, listing odds from various betting shops -- useful because any large discrepancy in odds is highly suspect (why put money down at worse odds when you can get a lot more bang for your bet elsewhere ?). Svetlana Alexievich's consistent range -- 6/1 to 7/1 as I write this -- is reassuring, for example; the Jon Fosse spread 6/1 to 16.5/1 eyebrow-raising, as is John Banville's (11/1 to 29/1). Consistent odds across the board of course don't signal actual odds, but one would expect any author about which there is any inside information to have more consistent odds (since those with that information would surely want to try to maximize their profit from it, spreading their bets and driving the odds to roughly the same level from place to place).

       A dpa (German press agency) Q & A with Nobel-leading Swedish Academy permanent secretary Sara Danius isn't very revealing ('There is really only one criterion: quality') -- though it rubs in that the crack-down of her predecessors on leakage seems to have paid off .....

       I don't have any good sense what the Swedish Academy might be thinking ... but I'll have some final pre-Nobel thoughts tomorrow.

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13. Henning Mankell (1948-2015)

       Leading Swedish crime fiction author Henning Mankell has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in The Guardian (Andrew Brown) and The New York Times (Jonathan Kandell).
       Best known for his Inspector Kurt Wallander series, Mankell was was a major figure in the explosion of Nordic crime fiction worldwide; (somewhat surprisingly) none of his works are under review at the complete review, but start out with the first, Faceless Killers; see the Vintage publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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14. Nagroda Nike

       The Nike prize is the leading Polish literary award, and they've announced that Księgi Jakubowe, by Olga Tokarczuk has won the 2015 prize -- beating out shortlisted works by Magdalena Tulli, among others, and longlisted titles by authors such as Andrzej Stasiuk and Adam Zagajewski. See also Tokarczuk awarded Nike literature award at Radio Poland.
       The 912-page work might be a hard sell for foreign publishers -- see the Wydawnictwo Literackie publicity page -- but several of her works have been translated into English, including Primeval and Other Times; see the Twisted Spoon publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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15. Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis

       Clemens J. Setz's Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre -- see the Suhrkamp foreign rights page -- was longlisted for the German Book Prize, but didn't make the shortlist-cut -- but they've now announced that it has won the cash-richer (€30,000, vs the German Book Prize's measlier €25K) Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis.
       Apparently so far only French rights have been sold; at 'ca. 1021 pages' it's a lot for a US/UK publisher to take on -- but Setz is definitely an increasingly up-and-comer. (Though the buying-decision probably depends a lot on how Indigo did .....)

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16. Giller Prize shortlist

       They've now announced the 2015 Shortlist for the (Canadian) Scotiabank Giller Prize -- including one translation, Arvida, by Samuel Archibald, one of two Biblioasis titles to make the final five.

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17. French longlists

       If they have reached a decision and are ready to announce the Nobel Prize in Literature this Thursday the Swedish Academy will announce that today; if they remain silent then the prize will be announced, at the earliest, next Thursday.

       Meanwhile, the French are keeping busy with various longlist announcements:

       The prix Femina is -- like the Goncourt -- a four- (rather than the usual three-)round prize, with long-, not-quite-so-long-, and short-list before they announce the winner -- well, two-thirds of it is, anyway, the French-fiction and foreign-fiction categories: essays are dealt with in three rounds. A long-winded way of explaining that they've made their second selection in the French- (cutting five titles) and foreign-fiction (cutting seven titles) categories, and their first selection of essays: see here, for example.
       Among the French titles dropped from round one were the novels by Laurent Binet and Mathias Enard; among the foreign novels making the next round were Martin Amis' The Zone of Interest and Jane Gardam's Old Filth.

       The Femina has foreign fiction as one of its categories; the Prix du meilleur livre étranger is devoted entirely to foreign works -- with fiction and non categories, and they've announced their longlists too.

       And then there's the new prize on the block, the 'Grand prix de littérature américaine' -- yes, devoted just to American literature ..... They've also announced their longlist.

       (And, yes, none of these prizes appear to have anything resembling an internet presence of their own (there is this for the prix Femina -- nice URL, but completely uninformative about anything to do with current prize-doings) -- typical for French literary prizes (and their sponsors). Baffling.)

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18. The Folly review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ivan Vladislavić's The Folly, which just came out from Archipelago in the US, and which And Other Stories is bringing out in the UK.
       This was Vladislavić's first novel, and was published in South Africa in 1993 (!). Yes, there was a Serif edition in the UK in 1994 -- but this the first it's made it to the US (while a German translation came out 1998, a Croatian one in 1999). Amazing.

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19. Park Kyong-ni prize

       The Park Kyong-ni prize is the big South Korean international literary award founded five years ago, and they've now announced this year's winner -- selected from five finalists: Isabel Allende, Amitav Ghosh, Milan Kundera, Amos Oz, and Philip Roth.
       Last summer, in the NB column on the back page of the Times Literary Supplement J.C. joked about:

devising a new prize, to be given to an author who has already received all the other prizes. What to call it ? The Amos Oz Prize is one suggestion.
       And, indeed, Amos Oz adds to his All the Prizes Prize (the designation they seem to have settled on, though they might be rethinking that right now ...) tally, taking this prize too (and what is apparently $100,000 in prize-money).
       Previous winners include Marilynne Robinson and Ludmila Ulitskaya -- as well as, last year ... Bernhard Schlink.

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20. Goldsmiths Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title strong shortlist for the Goldsmiths Prize -- "awarded to a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best".
       It looks like a decent selection -- though I had issues with the two titles from it I have read (Lurid & Cute and Satin Island). I do hope to get to both the Richard Beard and the Magnus Mills, but neither appears to be available in the US yet.

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21. Brian Friel (1929-2015)

       Irish playwright Brian Friel has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in The Guardian (Richard Pine) or The New York Times (Benedict Nightingale), as well as a collection of reflections at the BBC.
       None of his work is under review at the complete review -- not even Translations, which I really should get to (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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22. Biblioasis profile

       In The Globe and Mail Mark Medley profiles publisher Biblioasis, in Biblioasis is no mirage.
       It's an impressive and deserved success story -- always great to see a small independent doing so well (and nice to see that works in translation are part of the success-programme ...).

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23. Simone review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eduardo Lalo's Simone, due out shortly from the University of Chicago Press.

       This book won the 2013 Premio Rómulo Gallegos -- a biennial prize that has one of the most impressive winners-lists of any Spanish- (or, indeed, any-)language book prize, including: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Terra Nostra, Palinuro of Mexico, and The Savage Detectives, as well as books by Mario Vargas Llosa, Javier Marías, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Ricardo Piglia. That's some impressive company .....
       So how will Simone fare in the US -- as the first of Puerto Rican author Lalo's books to appear in English ?
       Lalo doesn't make it easy: the beginning of the book isn't bad or anything, but is a kind of writing that is very familiar -- and that many readers have probably had enough of. Anyone who dips in for the first ten or twenty or however many pages to get a feel for the book might well be inclined not to continue. The thing is: that initial feel is upended, as Lalo goes considerably further -- not quite elsewhere, but certainly not just on the same course -- later in the book.
       It's also interesting for its treatment of a more or less 'marginal' culture, including being about being a Puerto Rican writer in a time where Spanish-writing publishing is dominated by publishers in Spain (and much more regionalized in Latin America), with all the consequences of that.
       It was interesting reading this just as Haruo Shirane's What Global English Means For World Literature -- a review of Mizumura Minae's The Fall of Language in the Age of English -- appeared, discussing some of the issues Lalo raises.

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24. Archive: Maurice Blanchot

       Via I'm pointed to the report at Harvard University's Houghton Library's weblog, Modern Books and Manuscripts, that Maurice Blanchot papers acquired by Harvard -- some twenty cartons worth.
       I suspect not everything is ... revelatory ("Real estate transactions including the sale of 48 rue Madame, 27 rue de Vaugirard. 1 folder" or "Wall calendars: 1965, 1971"), but a lot is intriguing -- including the: "Correspondence including Jacques Derrida, Edmond Jabès, Monique Antelme, Jacques Abeille, René Char, and presidents of France" (presidents ! plural !).

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25. Archive: Ian Rankin

       In the Daily Record they're reporting that Rebus author Ian Rankin aims to leave his literary archive to the National Library of Scotland.
       He kindly wants to donate his archive -- including "his boxes of receipts, bills" -- though it's unclear how much insight his faded faxes will offer scholars:

"I was going through some boxes of stuff recently, stuff from the late 80s when the fax machine was god, and I had all these rolls of shiny fax paper, and they have now faded to blank sheets.

"I have just got boxes full of blank sheets of paper, where faxes once were, probably from my publisher.
       (Quite a few of the Rebus-novels are under review at the complete review, beginning with the first, Knots and Crosses.)

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