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Viewing Blog: the Literary Saloon, Most Recent at Top
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1. Bottom's Dream - the cover

       So at the Amazon.com page (and Amazon.co.uk, etc.) they now have a cover up for the forthcoming-from-Dalkey Archive Press John E. Woods translation of Arno Schmidt's long- and much-anticipated (and long, and weighty) Bottom's Dream:

Bottom's Dream


       Hurrah ! (Also because this is yet another indication that the book will actually appear ... until I see it, I will harbor some doubts .....)
       Stark and simple, like most of the German covers -- but good to see John E. Woods' name and role prominently featured.

       Still a few months until it is (supposed to be) out -- but meanwhile remember: The School for Atheists is a great starter-Schmidt/preparation volume -- and, of course, for more Schmidt background, there's always my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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2. Yomiuri Prize for Literature

       They recently announced the 67th 読売文学賞, with Furukawa Hideo's 女たち三百人の裏切りの書 taking the fiction prize.
       Furukawa is definitely someone to look out for: Haikasoru brought out his Belka, Why Don't You Bark ? a few years ago (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or Amazon.co.uk), while Columbia University Press is bringing out his Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure shortly (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or Amazon.co.uk). (I have both, and should be getting around to reviewing them.)
       See also the (Japanese) Shinchosha publicity page for the prize-winning title, or the (English) J'Lit Hideo Furukawa page, which also has information about some of his other not-yet-translated titles.

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3. Cairo International Book Fair report

       In Al-Ahram Weekly Nevine El-Aref reports on the recent Cairo International Book Fair, in Of books and bread.

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4. Íslensku bókmenntaverðlaunanna

       As Vala Hafstad reports at Icelandic Review, Icelandic Literature Prizes Presented, as the country's major literary awards have been handed out, with Hundadagar, by Einar Már Guðmundsson (several of whose works have been translated into English) taking the fiction prize -- beating out, among other finalists, Hallgrímur Helgason and Jón Kalman Stefánsson. See also the Forlagið publicity page for the book.
       The prize is worth an impressive(-sounding) ISK 1 million -- though apparently that's now only the equivalent of ca. US$7,800.

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5. Book reviews in ... German(y)

       At the German Perlentaucher site they've long been collecting book review coverage from the major German-language dailies of books appearing in German(y), and Thierry Chervel now looks over the numbers and some other analyses in Kritische Zahlen, to see whether --or rather just how much -- book review coverage in German newspapers (plus the Swiss NZZ) has declined since 2001.
       Short -- and disturbing -- answer: a lot.

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6. Natasha Wimmer Q & A

       Alicia Kennedy has a(n awfully-titled) Q & A with translator Natasha Wimmer at Broadly.
       (I just picked up a copy of the Wimmer-translated Enrigue, Sudden Death, at the library, and look forward to getting to it soon. (Get your copy at Amazon.com or pre-order it at Amazon.co.uk.))

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7. The Absolute at Large review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Karel Čapek's 1922 The Absolute at Large.

       I actually received my review copy of this book 3815 days before the review went up -- so, yes, sometimes it takes me a while .....
       (This is actually the third from this University of Nebraska Press Bison Frontiers of Imagination-series that I had previously read (all in German, all decades ago) and eventually got around to re-reading and then reviewing, in each case 2000 or more days after getting the UNP edition of the book. I guess they just have to be lying around long enough until I finally can't resist any longer .....)

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8. International Prize for Arabic Fiction shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (and revealed the names of the judges -- kept secret until now).
       The winner will be announced 26 April.

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9. Stella Prize longlist

       The Stella Prize is an Australian prize for the best book -- fiction or non -- by an Australian author who is a woman, and they've now announced the sixteen-title-strong longlist, selected from 170 entries (which, unfortunately, they apparently do not make public).
       The shortlist will be announced 10 March, and the winner on 19 April.

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10. The Case of the Girl in Grey review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second in Jordan Stratford's The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency-series, The Case of the Girl in Grey -- yes, juvenile fiction (though what I still have the most trouble getting over with are the liberties Stratford takes with historical dates/figures).

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11. African literature

       At okayafrica Siyanda Mohutsiwa writes that I'm Done With African Immigrant Literature -- fed up with the so widespread African writing (and writers) that are (and emphasize the) beyond-continental. (Note, however, that, as is sadly almost needless to say, Mohutsiwa's 'Africa' is only the sub-Saharan sort; the Arabic- (and occasionally French- and some other languages) writing northern part not really figuring in this (or most) discussion.)
       She's exaggerating slightly for effect, but has a point -- and for all the African literature under review at the complete review, I would love to see more local(ized) stuff too (but that goes for most regions, as it's often not the most (locally) popular stuff that gets translated, even from places such as France, Germany, Spain, etc.).
       If nothing else, the article is a nice reminder of the Pacesetter novels, and even if they're no longer on the shelves at Botswana Book Store, you can find them at that online site -- or at what should always be your first online destination for African books, the Africa Book Centre.

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12. Book of the Year Awards in Iran

       I can't seem to be able to find any mention of local fiction winners, but in the Theran Times they report Asghar Farhadi's collection wins Iran's Book of the Year Award (that would be in the screenplay category), where they also mention some other category-winners -- including best literary translation, which was for Borges' correspondence-collection, Cartas del fervor (which, oddly (?), doesn't appear to have been translated into English yet ...).
       And in the bibliography category: "the first award went to List of Published Translated Books" -- which actually sounds like fascinating reading (at least to me -- what gets translated (and published) is enormously revealing, and even more fun in Iran, where there is no inhibiting adherence to copyright convention(s), so multiple translations of the most popular titles are not uncommon).

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13. The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iván Repila's The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse -- available in a lovely little pocket-sized Pushkin Press edition, but packing considerably more of a punch than its size (and title) might suggest.

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14. Helon Habila Q & A

       In The Sun Henry Akubuiro has a Q & A with Helon Habila: Every writer must grapple with big subjects of his generation.

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15. 'Literature that takes a peek into the forbidden world'

       In the Times of India Priyanka Dasgupta considers the burning issue: Does regional erotic literature have takers when online offers free adult content ?
       But no worries:

The rise of the popularity of e-books will not wipe away the trend of reading printed books. Similarly, craze for MMS and adult movies will not take away the charm of adult literature. There is nostalgia in holding a book, browsing through the pages. People won't get over this habit in a hurry.
       Good to hear, right ?

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16. The Heart review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Maylis de Kerangal's highly acclaimed novel, coming out as The Heart (translated by Sam Taylor) in the US -- and as Mend the Living (translated by Jessica Moore) in the UK.
       I've mentioned how ... odd I find that the US/UK publishers couldn't agree, if not on the same translator at least on the same title, and I wonder whether this will impact the reception/success of the book. On the other hand, it would be kind of neat to see the two translations compete for the major translation prizes in their respective territories (say, the Best Translated Book Award and the (new incarnation of the) Man Booker International Prize).

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17. UK library lending numbers

       The Public Lending Right is the neat system in the UK whereby authors are remunerated (up to a point) each time their books are checked out of a library, and they've now released their most recent statistics as to UK library borrowing.
       In The Guardian PLR chair Tom Holland has a useful overview of Library lending figures: which books were most popular in 2014/15 ? -- including the list of the 100 most borrowed titles.
       Despite being (completely) fiction-dominated, none of the top 100 are under review at the complete review; indeed, few other books by any of the authors to crack the top 100 are.

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18. Translating Journey to the West

       An interesting piece about translating from the Chinese in the Los Angeles Review of Books, as W.J.F.Jenner writes about Journeys to the East, "Journey to the West"
       He translated the classic Journey to the West -- get the four-volume edition at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and notes:

Because this was a book written for entertainment and pleasure I did not want it cluttered with footnotes. I reckoned that as long as readers were being carried along by the story, they did not want to be distracted by an annotator plucking at their sleeves, and explaining the countless Buddhist, Daoist and other references. Those who do want the scholarly paraphernalia can always turn to Anthony C. Yu's version.
       (As you know, I can never get enough scholarly paraphernalia, so, yeah, I do lean towards the Yu-translation.)

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19. Intizar Hussain (1923-2016)

       Urdu-writing great Intizar Hussain has passed away; see, for example, Martin Chilton's obituary in The Telegraph.
       It was good to see him get shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize (in its former incarnation) in 2013.
       Two of his books are under review at the complete review: Basti and A Chronicle of the Peacocks.

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20. 2016 PEN Literary Awards Shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for the 2016 PEN Literary Awards.
       Nothing under review at the complete review outside the fiction-translation prize -- though I do have a couple of these, and should get to some.
       The fiction-translation finalists are:

  • The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin, translated by Jamey Gambrell
  • The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, translated by Oliver Ready
  • Hollow Heart by Viola Di Grado, translated by Antony Shugaar
  • The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel
       There's still a while until the Best Translated Book Award longlist is announced, but I'm curious how much overlap there will be: leaving aside the BTBA-ineligible (as a re-translation) Dostoyevsky, the Lispector seems a gimme, and I expect the Gospodinov is more or less guaranteed a longlist-place -- but I would never have figured these other two titles to rate so highly.
       The PEN winners will be announced 1 March.

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21. European Prize for Literature

       They've announced that this year's European Prize for Literature goes to Estonian author Jaan Kaplinski.
       It's the eleventh time they've awarded the prize -- Jon Fosse won last time -- but they're still working on really establishing themselves. But, they assure us:

The award is based on criteria of quality and of exemplarity, which are as demanding as those for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
       Quite a bit of Kaplinski's work has been translated into English -- including the novel The Same River; see the Peter Owen publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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22. Hispabooks profile

       Spanish publisher of Spanish-books-in-English-translation Hispabooks do a really nice job -- and I wish there were similar publishers for any number of other languages ... -- and at the Asymptote weblog Frances Riddle now has a Q & A, Publisher Profile: Ana Pérez Galván of Hispabooks.

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23. Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse finalists

       The biggest of the German book prizes -- the German Book Prize -- is announced in the fall, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but the spring Leipzig Book Fair (17 to 20 March) also has big book prize -- which is, in fact, a trio of prizes, as they honor not just a best work of fiction (like the German Book Fair) -- well, 'Belletristik' -- but also prize a work of non-fiction, and a translation.
       They've now announced the three sets of five finalists, selected from 401 submissions.
       Among the Belletristik finalists: Guntram Vesper's 1000-pager, Frohburg
       Also interesting from a foreign perspective: the translations in the running. The five titles are from five different languages -- the English one a Richard Ford, the French an Emmanuel Carrère. The one title I have, and which I will be reviewing, is the most impressive Tutori by Bora Ćosić, which has got to be the betting favorite (see also the dedicated website publisher Schöffling & Co. set up, or their foreign rights page).

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24. 'Must-Reads of Georgian Literature' ?

       So what does a "world-famous Georgian writer" think are the Top 5 Must-Reads of Georgian Literature ? Dato Turashvili lists his at Georgia Today -- and goes way back. Unfortunately, too, practically none of this is available/accessible in English.
       And what about Turashvili ? Well, it so happens that Mosaic Press is about to bring out his Flight from the U.S.S.R.; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. (The book's 'Amazon Best Sellers Rank' of 16,598,047 (as I write this) suggests the title hasn't quite caught on yet ... but then the release date is only a couple of weeks from now.)
       Meanwhile, see also the Index of Georgian literature under review at complete review -- not very much yet, but I am always looking/hoping for more ..... Read the rest of this post

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25. The Lost Time Accidents review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of John Wray's new novel, The Lost Time Accidents.

       I was very much looking forward to this, and it has a lot of elements/aspects that appeal to me, but I found it fell surprisingly flat. Wray seems to have taken his time writing it (his last novel came out in 2009) and I wonder if he just spent too much time on it -- not so much in polishing it (though the writing certainly feels very worked-over) but in playing with it, resulting in (among very much else) things like that piece ascribed to Joan Didion. (I am still desperately hoping that's some kind of inside joke between Wray and Didion, but I'm thinking ... probably not so much. (Among those he mentions in the Acknowledgements are Ursula LeGuin and Murakami Haruki -- but not Didion.))

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