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1. Carol Brown Janeway

       Longtime Alfred A. Knopf editor and translator Carol Brown Janeway has passed away -- apparently rather suddenly; see Sonny Mehta's company-memo (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       The fact that she was the first recipient of the annual Friedrich Ulfers Prize (for the promotion of German-language literature) in 2013, and the second recipient of the Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature (2014) should give you some idea of the significance of her role in fostering foreign literature in the US.
       Among her translations are also several works by Daniel Kehlmann, Thomas Bernhard's My Prizes -- and, in a near-unforgivable misstep, Márai Sándor's Embers.

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2. Alyson Waters Q & A

       At the Asymptote blog Katrine Øgaard Jensen has a Q & A with translator Alyson Waters.

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3. Fragments of Lichtenberg review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pierre Senges' quite remarkable Fragments of Lichtenberg, due out shortly from Dalkey Archive Press (and, yes, this is a very 'Dalkey' title -- all for the best, to my mind).

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4. Tade Ipadeola Q & A

       In The Sun Henry Akubuiro has a Q & A with Tade Ipadeola, NNLG laureate: I have no time for literary zombies -- which is certainly a nice headline.
       Admirable that he's translated (well, hmmm ... "more of 'traduction' in the sense of what translation means in a Romance language such as French. It was a whim" ...) Auden into Yoruba -- and disappointing that they're still:

unpublished translations of Daniel Fagunwa Yoruba classical novels, into English The Divine Cryptograph [Aditu] and The Pleasant Potentate of Ibudo [Ireke Onibudo].

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5. 'Difficult Fiction'

       The fine novelist Joanna Scott argues for The Virtues of Difficult Fiction in The Nation, discussing books including Naomi S. Baron's Words Onscreen -- and finding:

The surprising problem arising in our culture is that good, active, creative reading is on the decline.
       I'm not sure to what extent this isn't actually just another facet of the perennial problem/complaint, but, hey, I'm always up for some support of 'creative', careful, and engaged reading
       So I'm certainly on board with her conclusion:
Let's not stop reading the kind of books that keep teaching us to read.

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6. August Words without Borders

       The August issue of Words without Borders, Myth and History: Writing from Indonesia, is now available online; it also includes the usual reviews, as well as 'Three Tibetan Short Stories'.
       Great to see more Indonesian attention as we come up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where it will be this year's Guest of Honour.

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7. Summer issue of list

       It's well-hidden at the official site -- certainly not to be found under 'Current Issue' (that would be much too easy ...) -- but the Volume 28, Summer 2015 issue of list Books from Korea -- "a quarterly literary magazine [that] introduces Korean literature and authors to overseas reader" -- is now available online.

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8. What kids should read ?

       In the UK the 'TES and the National Association for the Teaching of English ran a survey to find teachers' top 100 fiction books all children should read' -- before leaving primary school and before leaving secondary school. (There is some overlap.)
       I am a bit shocked by how few books in translation feature, especially on the secondary school list (fewer than on the primary school list) -- all of three, as best I can tell: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (53), I am David by Anne Holm (71) (and this one is also 29 on the primary school list), and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (89). But it's a very mixed (up ?) list, in any case.

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9. Monitoring the literary judges in China ?

       In Xinhua they report that Chinese literature prize guards against corrupt judging, as

The organizers of one of China's top literary awards have set up a team to supervise the judging process and make sure it is fair and free of corruption.
       I'm very curious as to how exactly they will do their monitoring -- corruption would seem hard to detect unless it's truly blatant (like a judge handing out money during deliberations to literally buy other judges' votes). Still, I kind of like the idea of uniformed guards watching over the deliberating judges, billy clubs at the ready to thwack any argument or voicing of support they deem improper.

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10. Reading in ... Russia

       In The Moscow Times Anastasia Bazenkova reports that Russia's Book Industry Shrinks as Russians Stop Reading.
       It's not that they've stopped reading entirely, but apparently there has been quite a decline (with the ever-popular explanations as supplied by experts, such as: "Young people see books as pure entertainment, and in that category they cannot compete with modern gadgets"). A real problem is certainly the decline in bookstores -- and, astonishing if true, Moscow apparently only has six used book stores.
       Among the consequences: "The effect of bookstore closures has been to reduce the quantity of printed words"
       And while there's no data to back up the claim, it's still an eye-catching one:

There are currently 10-12 people in the whole country that can earn their living only by writing books, and there will be even fewer of them in the future, Filimonov said

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11. Another translation of The Story of The Stone

       As longtime readers know, I hold Cao Xueqin's The Story of The Stone, in David Hawkes and John Minford's translation, to be one of the peaks of literature. Interesting to learn now that, as Tang Yue reports in China Daily, in Lost in translation for more than 40 years, that the manuscript of an unpublished translation into English by Lin Yutang has been found in Japan.
       Lin published widely in both Chinese and English, and was a widely-read popularizer of Chinese literature in English -- it would be interesting to know what kind of impact his translation of this towering work might have had.

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12. Wind/Pinball reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of Murakami Haruki's two earliest novels, now published together in one volume, in a new translation by Ted Goossen, as Wind/Pinball:

       This is yet another example of US/UK publishers opting to publish multiple works by an author in one volume -- several works by Patrick Modiano, whose works tend to come in at around a hundred pages, are getting the treatment now. It's more justifiable here than in most cases (even as the title, Wind/Pinball, really isn't) but I reviewed them separately -- among other reasons: because there are already so many separate reviews of one or the other title to link to.
       However, it's been annoying to see so much coverage which has dismissed the previous translations (by Alfred Birnbaum, published by Kodansha International) as if no one had ever seen them. The Knopf jacket-copy has it about right -- "Widely available in English for the first time, newly translated" -- but much of the review coverage does not (as I have also repeatedly noted on Twitter (e.g.)).

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13. Caine Prize follow-up

       The Caine Prize for African Writing is the leading African short story prize, with a solid track record.
       In the Daily Trust Nathaniel Bivan now looks at the Literary Journey of 5 Nigerian Caine Prize Winners.

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14. Juan Gabriel Vásquez 'By the Book'

       The New York Times Book Review has Juan Gabriel Vásquez (The Informers, etc.) answer this week's 'By the Book' Q & A.
       Like so many prominent foreinh-language-writing authors, he has also translated works into his mother tongue -- and one of the questions they ask him is: "Has translating changed your approach to reading fiction in translation ?" I realize the column is about reading, but of course the really interesting question is how it's affected his writing. (As longtime readers know, I'm a big proponent of writers at least dabbling in translation -- as far too few US/UK authors of fiction do ...).)
       Some interesting answers, though -- worth a look.

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15. Man Booker Prize longlist

       As reported everywhere, they've now announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize.
       They were selected from 156 submissions -- though, alas, the Man Booker folk don't reveal which titles were actually in the running. (Publishers are limited as to how many titles they can submit, a complex formula determining how many each is allowed to submit, so it is likely prominent and promising titles were never even considered for the prize -- but they won't tell us which ones. People should find this more disturbing than they seem to (most of you don't seem to mind at all).)
       The Telegraph has the main points covered in various articles: American dominance of Man Booker Prize longlist 'confirms worst fears' and Men and women take equal share in the Man Booker Prize longlist pretty much sum things up.
       Prominent authors whose books missed the cut (but, after all, may not have even been submitted ....) include those by Kazuo Ishiguro, Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie, and Pat Barker.
       Unsurprisingly, none of the longlisted titles are under review at the complete review -- sorry.

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16. Open Letter profile

       A nice long profile of publisher Open Letter Books by Rebecca Rafferty in the Rochester CITY Newspaper, Found in translation (arghh ...).
       Lots of interesting background, so check it out.

       (See also the Open Letter titles under review at the complete review.)

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17. Reading in ... Zimbabwe

       In The Herald Stanely Mushava writes about the situation in Zimbabwe, in Cry our beloved reading culture.
       The lament is common enough -- though rarely is the fault ascribed as here:

Writers, publishers and literary academics that attended the ZIBF Indaba blamed schools for the country's love-hate relationship with books.
       And:
[V]eteran author Aaron Chiundura Moyo said it was clear that schools had destroyed the reading culture.
       Harsh. (And, yeah, there may a few more issues locally .....)

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18. Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Luc Lang's Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor, just out in English from the University of Nebraska Press.

       This was translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith -- who won this year's (well, the 2014, awarded this year) French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for his translation of Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Mad and the Bad, and also translated, among other titles, the similarly cruel Mygale (also published as Tarantula, and as the film tie-in The Skin I Live In) by Thierry Jonquet -- so, yeah, the right man for the job.

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19. Reading in ... Bangladesh

       At Scroll.in Ulka Anjaria finds: 'Choosing what to read is playing a crucial role in the uneasy conflict between the mother-tongue and English', in Reading Chetan Bhagat in Dhaka: the anxiety of English literature.
       (Chetan Bhagat is of course the immensely popular (writing-in-English-)Indian author -- whose success hasn't quite ... translated to the US/UK (several of his titles are under review at the complete review; see, for example, One night @ the call center, which was actually published in US/UK editions as well).)
       An interesting (beginning of a) discussion -- as is also the notion, re. Bhagat, that:

Without explicitly saying so, his works shift attention from the traumas of South Asia's past to the shared anxieties of its future.
       The shift in attention may be welcome, but I'm not sure his works are best suited for leading the way ..... Read the rest of this post

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20. E-books at independent bookstores

       In the Denver Post Jessica Iannetta reports that E-books for sale, but not selling, at independent booksellers, as:

Eight years after Amazon released the first Kindle, surviving independent bookstores are now selling e-books -- and finding that no one really wants the ones they're offering.
       Of course, part of the convenience of buying e-books is that you don't actually have to go to a bookstore to do it. But, as someone who will only suffer an e-book in extremis, I'm probably not the right person to speculate about e-book purchasing patterns.

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21. Seagull Books profile

       In Flight of the Seagull in The Caravan Anjum Hasan looks at: 'How an Indian publisher brought Europe home', profiling Seagull Books, the Naveen Kishore-led, India-based publisher that is one of the leading publishers of literature-in-translation (especially French and German) in English. (A lot of other publishers have great lists, but as far as number-of-(important-)titles go, it's really Dalkey Archive Press and Seagull way at the head of the pack.)
       A fascinating story -- and a wonderful success story.

       Lots of Seagull titles are under review at the complete review -- I wouldn't even know where to start -- and I hope you too are familiar with much of what they've published.

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22. Writing in ... Indonesia

       At DeutscheWelle Monika Griebeler has a Q & A with Indonesian author Feby Indirani, Indonesian literature 'needs exposure to be noticed internationally'.
       Among her observations:

The infrastructure of the Indonesian publishing industry isn't yet fully developed. A potential market is there but the industry is still in a poor condition.
       She also notes:
But regardless of that, we still see gems of literature and popular writings that have both market success and good intellectual reception such as the works of Ayu Utami, Seno Gumira Ajidarma or Eka Kurniawan.
       As I've mentioned previously, this fall is seeing a double-dose of Eka Kurniawan in English, as two of his novels are being published in translation: Man Tiger, coming from Verso (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.com), and Beauty is a Wound from New Directions (pre-order your copy from Amazon.com). Publishers Weekly has the early reviews -- here and here -- and they're both starred; fully on board the Kurniawan-bandwagon, they also have a Writers to Watch: Fall 2015 profile of him.

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23. Série Noire profile

       Via I'm pointed to Russell Williams' The Série Noire and Social Intervention at the Los Angeles Review of Books, a nice introduction/overview of Gallimard's 'grande collection de romans policiers', their Série Noire.
       And, of course, it would be great to see more of the French works they publish in English translation.

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24. ZIBF

       The Zimbabwe International Book Fair began Monday -- and in The Herald Stanely Mushava reports that Book Fair begins on high note.
       He notes:

Keynote speaker Walter Bgoya, of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers from Tanzania, said there was a lot of nostalgia for the heydays of the book fair outside Zimbabwe.
       No doubt -- but, damn, they certainly managed to spoil a good thing. Here's hoping things are improving again.

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25. What ʻĪsā Ibn Hishām told us review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥī's turn of the (last) century What ʻĪsā Ibn Hishām told us, just out in a two-volume edition in Roger Allen's translation from the Library of Arabic Literature.

       Yes, yes, I know; you already have your copy, why would you even need my review ..... Read the rest of this post

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