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Viewing Blog: the Literary Saloon, Most Recent at Top
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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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.
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.

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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. '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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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. José Eduardo Agualusa Q & A

       José Eduardo Agualusa's A General Theory of Oblivion was a finalist this year for both the Best Translated Book Award and the Man Booker International Prize -- it didn't win the BTBA, but still has a chance to take the MBIP next week -- and at the PEN Atlas Tasja Dorkofikis has a Q & A with the author.
       As he admits, the novel is not based on a true story: "Ludo is me, or was me, during a certain period when I was living in Luanda, in that very building."
       Interesting also to hear:

How do you think Angolan writing is influenced by Brazilian and Portuguese writing and vice versa ?

Brazilian literature was -- at least until the late 1970s -- very important for the development of Angola's writers. Essential, even. It doesn't seem so important now. All the same, it does still have more impact than Portuguese literature.

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18. RSL Ondaatje Prize

       They've announced that Nothing is True and Everything is Possible (by Peter Pomerantsev) has won this year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, an: "annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" (in this case, as the sub-title has it: "The Surreal Heart of the New Russia").
       See also the publicity pages at Faber & Faber and PublicAffairs, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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19. ACF Translation Prize open for submissions

       The Austrian Cultural Forum has opened its call for the 2017 prize -- and while you have until 10 October to submit (a sample translation (ca. 4000 words/10 pages), of prose or poetry by a living Austrian author first published in the original German after 1945) it's never too early ..... Read the rest of this post

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20. Bottom's Dream anticipation

       The weightiest translation in recent memory -- Zibaldone may have a greater page-count, but it doesn't come close, measured in words or in kilos --, Arno Schmidt's monumental Bottom's Dream, is due out in John E. Wood's career-culminating translation from Dalkey Archive Press in September, and via I see now that it is closer than ever to reality: the Arno Schmidt Stiftung (who I suspect subsidized this volume most generously) have posted a picture of an actual copy -- a 'Vorabexemplar' -- at their blog:

Bottom's Dream a reality

       Oh, yes !
       Oh, very much yes !

       Meanwhile, of course, you can prepare for the reading ... pleasure ? adventure ? experience ? ... all that and more, with my introductory Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy -- or, for a more direct taste of what Schmidt is up to, the also-John E. Woods-translated The School for Atheists.
       And you can always already take the plunge and pre-order your copy of Bottom's Dream -- as quite surprisingly many brave (would-be, hopeful) readers have done -- at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. (Don't hold out for the Kindle- (or any e-book-)edition -- that's not coming anytime soon, for reasons that will be obvious when you take a look at the print edition.)

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21. Science fiction from.in ... China

       Via Paper Republic I'm pointed to Yin Lu's Global Times report, claiming As Chinese sci-fi picks up steam, it's finding fans around the world.
       Certainly, Liu Cixin, with his trilogy beginning with The Three-Body Problem has helped generate some interest -- but there is still quite a way to go, both regarding foreign interest as well as Chinese science fiction itself.

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22. PalFest

       The Palestine Festival of Literature started yesterday, and runs through the 26th.
       Nobel laureate J.M.Coetzee is probably the most prominent participant, but that's quite a group they've gathered, and I look forward to the festival reports.

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23. Chart Korbjitti's Facebook novel

       In the Bangkok Post Kaona Pongpipat reports on Time-author Chart Korbjitti's latest 'novel', an experimental work based on his social media musings' titled facebook: โลกอันซ้อนกันอยู่, in Chart-ing Facebook.
       Naturally, there is also a Facebook-page for the book .....
       Yes, he does consider it a novel:

It's an experimental work in terms of the platform. Issues I raised in my posts, if we are to consider this a novel, are the characters. The book has every element a novel needs, the emotions, the subplots, the atmosphere, the ups and downs, and the climax.
       Okay ..... Read the rest of this post

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24. Sophie Kerr Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College, "the largest undergraduate literary award" in the US, worth US$65,770 this year (the total varies year to year, depending on the performance of the endowment).
       "Reilly D. Cox, a double major in English and theatre with a minor in creative writing" takes this year's prize,
       "See the page on all the finalists to see who he beat out -- and samples of all the finalists' work.

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25. Albina and the Dog-Men review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Albina and the Dog-Men, just out in English from Restless Books.

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