As widely noted, they've announced that this year's winner of the Man Booker Prize for Ficton is Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders.
Obviously a book we've all heard a lot about, but I haven't seen it yet (nor sought it out), and I don't expect to get to, but see the publicity pages at Random House and Bloomsbury, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the prix Femina shortlists, in the three categories: French and foreign fiction (five titles left in the running in each), and non-fiction (seven left); see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
Three of the five foreign novel finalists are translations from the English .....
The winners will be announced 8 November.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold's Monsterhuman, recently out from Dalkey Archive Press.
It's the second of her books they've brought out; the previous one -- which this one is, in part, about -- got a decent amount of attention, but so far this seems to have slipped under the US/UK review-radar .....
For those who like that sort of thing, there's quite a bit of the Norwegian literary scene along the way -- including:
We cross the street, round the corner to the parking lot.
And that's where I meet the rangy author for the first time.
I will later talk about this meeting more extensively.
"That was Karl Ove Knausgård," says the Satanist.
"Never heard of him," I say.
While not quite Knausgårdian, Monsterhuman is certainly similarly personal (and hefty ...) fiction.
Getting a jump on the Man Booker -- which announces its winner today -- the Premio Planeta, the world's richest book- (as opposed to author- (like the Nobel)) prize, worth a cool €601,000, has announced its 2017 winner -- and despite there even being a piece on the world's richest book prizes out yesterday (Alessandro Speciale writing at Bloomberg on How to Make a Buck Writing Novels (Tip: Use Spanish)) there appears to be, as I write this, not a single English-language mention of who won .....
As widely reported -- in other languages -- the winning entry (out of 634 !) was Javier Sierra's manuscript of a Holy Grail-novel, El fuego invisible; see, for example, the El Mundoreport.
No, none of his work is under review at the complete review -- but even I couldn't get around giving him a one-sentence, two-title mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (yes, I am that conscientiously thorough).
What can I say ?
Let's just say ... El Confidencial sums it up in their (off-by-a-1000-euros) headline, Javier Sierra, el Dan Brown español, se lleva los 600.000 euros del premio Planeta
He is very popular, and quite a few of his works have been translated into English.
But I really can't recommend any of them.
And I'm not holding out high hopes for this one, when it gets translated.
Margaret Atwood picked up the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade) yesterday, and her acceptance speech, Stories in the World, is now available online; you can also watch the entire prize ceremony here (English-speakers should feel free to jump ahead to the ca. 46 minute mark for the prize hand-over and then her speech -- though, while after an impressive German opening she switches to English, there's a German simultaneous translation rendering it almost English-incomprehensible).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ross Macdonald's 1966 novel, Black Money, now also collected in the most recent Library of America Macdonald collection, Four Later Novels.
Some really great writing here; interesting to see that, while of course always popular in the US/UK, many of the foreign editions are long out of print -- only the Germans (thanks to Diogenes) really seem on top of things -- with this one out just last year in a new translation).
Getting the voice right might be part of it -- though he doesn't seem to be that hard to translate, once you get the hang of it.
"If you want me to be to totally frank, I will say that, yes, we have many publishers in the Arab world but for many, their motivations are wrong.
They don't operate with the ideals that powers the most esteemed international publishing houses in Europe or the United States.
"The goals are mostly financial and profit-driven.
The idea of pushing the culture forward is not really there and that is a sad thing."
It is a sad thing -- but I'm afraid most European and US houses also have goals that are: "mostly financial and profit-driven".
And while I'm all for any encouragement to get to the works of Peter Weiss ...:
Other German works that are important to translate are the 18th-century poetry of Friedrich Schiller or the more modern 20th-century poetry of Peter Weiss.
(I guess you could say all his work is 'poetic' -- but he didn't publish any poetry .....)
France is this year's 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair (see their Frankfurt in French-site), but next year it's Georgia's turn -- and there web-presence is now up: Georgia Made by Characters.
I'm hoping for a flood (well, trickle, in(to) English ...) of translations, but I note that the Three Percent translation databases list no US translations from the Georgian for 2018 yet.
And none for 2017.
And none for 2016.
There are a few Georgian title under review at the complete review, but I really would like to be able to add more .....
They read 222 page 111s, came up with an eleven-title (page ?) longlist, read and discussed the finalists in a 111-minute podcast, and have now announced that Roi. by Mika Biermann takes the prize.
(They don't seem to have an official page, just one on the Facebook, so forget that, but see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.)
As is often the case with French literary prizes, it's more about the honor than the cash: the payout is a mere 111 centimes (in 1-centime coins).
See also the Anacharsis publicity page for Roi., or get your copy at Amazon.fr.
I have to admit that I disagree with his spin; indeed, I was more heartened by the European examples he cites:
It's also heartening that there is such a burgeoning interest in creative writing education here, for in this respect, Singaporeans might be pleasantly surprised to hear they're ahead of many developed Western countries.
Continental Europe remains so disinterested in creative writing that, according to Lasalle MA student and debut novelist Olivier Castaignede, his native France counts just one such master's programme.
A Spanish professor was quoted as saying that he's first trying to launch a creative writing master's programme in English (at a Spanish university) in hopes of then branching out into Spanish.
(I (grudgingly) accept that there's something to be said for (some) creative writing MFA programmes -- yes, maybe even/particularly in the case of a place/literature such as (contained, but multi-lingual) Singapore's -- but on the whole think writing is better placed (as well as both learnt and practiced) outside the academy.)
In the Tehran Times Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet reported that local authors were on board with the Swedish Academy's choice this year, in Iranian writers welcome Nobel prize for Kazuo Ishiguro -- which includes one of my favorite reactions (though this is presumably due in no small part to how it was translated), by Ahmad Puri:
"Ishiguro is his due to receive the prize," he said and added, "Bon appetite !"
A reader also points me to the more detailed Iranwire story by Arash Azizi, Reading Ishiguro in Tehran.
Among the observations of interest:
[Ishiguro] is also very well known in Iran, where he can perhaps be counted as one of the most-read novelists in the country.
Every single novel by Ishiguro has been translated into Persian, often more than once, and not just by anybody, but by the giants of Persian literature and translation.
Maybe the Germans, he said, should specialize in sophisticated pornography as a chance to keep the literature industry up and running.
And good to see him note:
Houellebecq argued that literary translators in Europe need to be paid more.
European translation, he pointed out, is the only way to make sure that European nations read more than just their own books and translations from English.
They've announced the shortlist for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, selected from 58 eligible entries (admirably revealed !).
A UK prize, not all these are US-available -- indeed, I've only seen one, Susan Bernofsky's translation of Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Tawada Yoko.
The winner will be announced 15 November.
The prix Goncourt has announced its deuxième sélection -- not yet the final shortlist, as a troisième will follow (on 30 October) before the winner is announced (on 6 November) -- yes, after their starting longlist, the Goncourt has a short and then a shorter list .....
As widely noted, they've announced the 2017 MacArthur Fellows -- the US$625,000 "no-strings-attached award".
As usual, there are a few writers in the crowd -- Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward, as well as playwright Annie Baker.
With France this year's 'guest of honour' at the (ongoing) Frankfurt Book Fair there's even more attention than usual to what's going on there (at least in Germany ...), and at Deutsche Welle Jochen Kürten suggests 8 French heavyweight authors to check out at the Frankfurt Book Fair -- which includes a Q & A with prominent literary critic Iris Radisch, who just published a book called: Warum die Franzosen so gute Bücher schreiben ('Why the French write such good books') -- see also the Rowohlt foreign rights page.
Among Radisch's explanations:
It is connected with libertinage, with the experimental love lives of the French
The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two Tony Duvert titles -- both originally published in French in 1978, and just out in English in beautiful little pocket-sized editions from Wakefield Press:
These are very short books -- fifty pages and less -- but both enjoyable (with Odd Jobs the more obviously entertaining).
Duvert seems to be having a moment: Semiotext(e) have brought out several of his other books -- most recently Atlantic Island; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the winners of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature -- James Murua's weblog has a run-down of the various category winners (because there doesn't appear to be an official one yet ...) -- with Henry Ole Kulet's The Elephant Dance winning the English fiction category (see also, for example, Why Ole Kulet, a winner yet again, deserves more respect from critics by Goro wa Kamau in the Daily Nation), and Tom Olali's promising-sounding Mashetani wa Alepo winning the Kiswahili category.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a another posthumous Donald E. Westlake novel from Hard Case Crime, Forever and a Death -- which apparently started out as a treatment for a possible James Bond movie.
(No Bond, or Bond-like character left over, however.)
The Man Booker-imitation German Book Prize has announced its winner, selected from 200 (disappointingly: not revealed ...) titles that were considered, and it is Die Hauptstadt by Robert Menasse; see also the DeutscheWelle report, Robert Menasse wins German Book Prize 2017.
Since it just came out in German it's not yet available in English, but MacLehose Press has bought the UK rights, and maybe some US publisher will have a go at it.
See also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page, or check out a sample translation (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
And for those who can't wait for the English translation, it appears to be available -- and selling quite well ("Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,140", as I write this) -- at the US Amazon.com
A reminder that this Thursday, 12 October, at 19:30, they'll have the ACFNY Translation Prize ceremony
Adrian West will pick up the prize, for his translation of Josef Winkler's Die Verschleppung/The Abduction -- and the author will also be present !
John Wray will join them in conversation, and Jeremy M. Davies will deliver the laudatio
Sounds like it'll be good.
I plan to attend .....
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has announced the winners of their 2017 National Translation Awards.
Esther Allen won the prose category, for her translation of Antonio Di Benedetto's Zama, while Daniel Borzutzky won the poetry category for his translation of Galo Ghigliotto's Valdivia; see the co•im•press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Puerto Rican author Eduardo Lalo's Uselessness, just out in English from the University of Chicago Press -- the second Lalo they've published.
Helon Habila, former Arts Editor for the Vanguard; as well as Chimamanda Adizie who won the 'junior Booker prize' and the Orange prize respectively, have moved on from Nigerian affairs, choosing, like Okri, to be Nigerian writers at large.
No home based writer is given any recognition, except in literary circles.
This state of affairs might have more to do with the dearth of the entire industry than with the literary giants.
Nobody is rewarding writers, so nobody wants to write.
The level of literature that is available is therefore abysmal in nature.
There is no competition, no inspiration, no encouragement.
There certainly are institutional issues -- but I'm not sure lack of 'competition' is (even near) the heart of the problem.
And while 'rewards' are certainly helpful, many writers nevertheless continue even without them .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dirk Kurbjuweit's socio-psychological thriller Fear.
An interesting publishing path into English -- Australian publisher Text were the first to bring this out, earlier this year (continuing the somewhat surprising small trend of Australian publishers taking the lead with books in translation, even/especially from the European patch ...), and has now just come out from Harper in the US.
It will be out shortly from Anansi in Canada, while the UK edition is only coming out at the beginning of 2018, from Orion.
Kurbjuweit tries too hard/much, to my mind (and too obviously, all of it) -- but there's no question that it is a book that stirs up a lot of questions and issues.
And so also my review of it is one of my longer ones, just under 2000 words .....
Norway is the 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019, and while they've long had the useful NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) website they've now added a Books from Norway site, which looks promising.
Norwegian literature is doing well in English (and internationally) -- with Karl Ove Knausgaard, Per Petterson, and Jo Nesbø (all with multiple titles under review at the complete review) leading the way -- but there are so many others, too (led by but hardly limited to Dag Solstad and Jan Kjærstad (also under review ...)).
Several French literary prizes made their deuxièmes sélections this week, including the Renaudot (leaving nine novels, and four works of non-fiction in the running in their respective categories), and the Femina -- which continues the odd French tradition of adding books in the second round that they apparently hadn't gotten to the first time around (as well as cutting some from the first round).
The Femina has three categories, including foreign fiction -- always interesting to see what's of international interest elsewhere.
Yesterday's post offers a wide selection of links to information surrounding the announcement that Kazuo Ishiguro will receive this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, so if you haven't checked that out yet, that's a good place to start.
Overall, the reaction has been very positive -- in the English-speaking world in no small part, it seems, because Ishiguro is an English-writing author whose work is familiar to a large readership (certainly compared to that of many of the recent Nobel laureates) and surprisingly many commentators apparently prefer to have the familiar validated than be exposed to (or, as they presumably see it, confronted with) something new and different.
While Ishiguro has often figured in the discussions of possible Nobel candidates, he seems to have sort of gotten lost in the crowded field of British authors that people presumably saw as similarly likely -- say, Ian McEwan or A.S.Byatt.
Indeed, he was not on this year's Ladbrokes betting list -- a rare and somewhat surprising complete miss for them.
(He has not been prolific in the past decade, which presumably led them to let him slip off the list; the last time he was on it, as far as I can tell, was in 2013 (at 100/1 -- already ominously down from 2012's 66/1 ....).)
He seems a relatively tame choice -- too obviously a counterweight to a selection such as Alexievich in 2015 (never mind last year's outright mistake) -- which seems unfair, because his writing certainly is award-worthy.
Still, my preference would obviously have been for someone who isn't quite such a well- and widely-established literary star.
(Reaction from the international-literature-interested community -- translators and publishers, in particular -- has been oddly muted; I wonder if the scheduling of the ALTA conference, which meant many of them were traveling or busy yesterday, prevented them from weighing in.
Surprisingly, many of the usual suspects -- bloggers, international-literature periodicals and their blogs, and translators -- didn't have anything to say (or any opportunity ...) one way or another.
I would have expected more expressions of disappointment -- though last year's selection presumably already took the wind out of a lot of these sails.)
And at The New Republic Alex Shephard ponders What Happened to the Nobel Prize in Literature ? finding: "The Nobel has become, well, fun" (though I have to admit, my reaction to that claim is: Huh ?).
I don't really think the prize lends itself to such attempts at trend-spotting -- and note that Alexievich is a poor fit in some respects (she was one of the more obscure recent winners).
Indeed, I wouldn't be at all surprised for the Swedish Academy to tack in a completely different direction again next year.
The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and the big banquet will take place 10 December -- most of which you'll be able to watch live online.
They've announced that this year's Geschwister-Scholl-Preis, a €10,000 prize for a book that demonstrates 'intellectual independence' and promotes 'civil freedom, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic courage', among other things, will go (on 20 November) to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Return, by Hisham Matar; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
One doesn't hear nearly enough about Nepali writing anywhere, even in Nepal, so it's good to see something like Usha Wagle Gautam's report in the Gulf Times, Giving Nepali literature a voice, a Q & A with the "former president of International Nepali Literary Society [...] a prominent name in the Qatar-based Nepali literary fraternity".
How neat that there is such a fraternity !
They've announced that the 2017 Nobel laureate in literature is Kazuo Ishiguro.
The official press announcement explains he is an author:
who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world
Ishiguro has often been in the Nobel discussion -- albeit rarely as a favorite -- and ticks off some of the boxes they presumably wanted to hit this year, including that cross-cultural background, and being a writer in the (very) traditional(-novelist) mold (with popular appeal helped along by some popular but still serious movie adaptations).
(Yes, after last year the Swedish Academy retreated to (complete) safety -- Ishiguro is a fine writer but already up there among the best-known writers who are considered literary (as opposed to purely 'popular') -- and he writes in English.
This is about as 'safe' and unruffling a choice as it was humanly possible to make .....
And he'll cut a fine figure at the Nobel banquet, which they desperately want after last year's no-show.)
It would appear that Ishiguro is also the first school-trained writer to win the Nobel -- he got his creative writing MA (the UK equivalent of the now so widespread American MFA) from the University of East Anglia.
Several Ishiguro titles are under review at the complete review:
Apparently, Ishiguro learned he was getting the prize not from the Swedish Academy -- who try to be the ones to break the news, but apparently don't always have the right contact information etc. ... -- but from the BBC; see their report, Kazuo Ishiguro: Nobel Literature Prize is 'a magnificent honour', which has video of the call, and more.
Early, more in-depth reports and considerations include:
The 70 finalists for the (Canadian) Governor General's Literary Awards, in seven categories each in English and French, have been announced
The winners will be announced 1 November, and the prize ceremony will be held on 29 November.
They'll announce the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature tomorrow, 5 October, at 13:00 CET (7:00 EST) (watch live !).
I'll post coverage soon after the announcement, and follow-up during the day .....
Not too many more big media-pieces on what to possibly expect, except for Alex Shephard's Who Will Win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature ? at The New Republic.
He works mainly off (and through) the Ladbrokes list -- with a few more names tossed in the now perhaps 'Obligatory Musician Category', as well as in the 'One of These People Will Actually Win the Nobel Prize'-category.
(In the latter, I note there are two names that definitely won't win: Jussi Adler-Olsen just can't be taken seriously as a candidate, and, while Dag Solstad is definitely worthy and would normally be well worth considering, the Swedish Academy already gave him a big prize this year -- the Svenska Akademiens nordiska pris, -- and no way are they going to give him the Nobel in the same year.)
(Updated): At Aftonbladet they have their annual critics-roundup of who do you expect to win / who do you wan't to win / who do you hope doesn't win, in Så ska det låta, Danius.
Some silliness, some seriousness, and mostly the familiar names.
As to movement on the betting sheets (as of Tuesday evening, EST, when I last checked)::
The favorites' odds are comparable to those at Ladbrokes, with Amos Oz rated slightly higher
No Ko Un bump here: he's still down at 25/1 (which suggests he's not on the shortlist -- if information had leaked the odds should be closer to the Ladbrokes ones)
Two surprise late additions -- and with good odds, no less: Jón Kalman Stefánsson (12/1) and Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, who publishes as Sjón (18/1), neither of which figure on the Ladbrokes list -- strongly suggesting someone Icelandic made it onto the shortlist.
(I doubt either of them is a real contender this year -- it's rare someone entirely new to the mix is in the real running -- but could be a harbinger for future years: this is exactly how and where Mo Yan popped up, the year before he won.)
They've announced the winners of the 2017 Saba awards in Georgia, the leading literary prizes there, with Aleko Shughladze (see the GNBC author page) winning for best novel, with გადამალვა ('Hiding'; see also the Diogene publicity page).
The award for best translation into Georgian was for that of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (or 'Fuko Theater', as they helpfully transl(iter)ate it on the official site), while the best translation of a Georgian title into a foreign language went to the German translation of Who killed Chaikia ? (see the GNBC information page), by Ana Kordzaia-Samadashvili; see also the Verlag Hans Schiler publicity page.
See also Nino Gugunishvili's Georgia Today report, Saba Annual Literature Competition Winners Announced.
They've announced the winners of this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, which will be awarded 5 November.
The fiction prize will go to The Veins of the Ocean, by Patricia Engel; see the Grove Atlantic publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The non-fiction prize will go to What Have We Done, by David Wood.