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20 September 2017 - Wednesday

Royal Society Science Book Prize | Swiss Book Prize finalists
FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award shortlist

       Royal Society Science Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize (while managing to avoid actually mentioning the winning title in the headline ...), and it's Testosterone Rex, by Cordelia Fine.
       In the UK the subtitle for this one is: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds; in the US: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society.
       See also the publicity pages from Icon and W.W.Norton, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Swiss Book Prize finalists

       They've announced the five finalists for this year's Schweizer Buchpreis, selected from seventy-eight (unfortunately -- but predictably -- not revealed ...) submissions. (A reminder also that this is, in fact, the German-language Swiss Book Prize, limited as it is .....)
       The winner will be announced 12 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award shortlist

       They've announced the six-title-strong shortlist for this year's the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.
       The winner will be announced 6 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



19 September 2017 - Tuesday

Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist | Graywolf Press Africa Prize
State of the German Novel ? | Return to the Dark Valley review

       Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist

       The Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize has announced its 2017 longlist -- twelve titles selected from 112 (unfortunately not revealed ...) submitted title.
       Rachel Cusk's Transit has probably gotten the most attention outside Canada, but some other interesting-sounding titles here too.
       The shortlist will be announced shortly -- 2 October.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Graywolf Press Africa Prize

       This is pretty neat: Graywolf has announced a Graywolf Press Africa Prize, "to be awarded for a first novel manuscript by an African author primarily residing in Africa".
       Yes, it's a bit odd that such a prize is being offered in/from ... Minnesota -- but, hey, whatever works, right ?
       Admirably: "Submissions must be in English, but translations are acceptable" (yes, we all know how that will work out -- but at least the possibility is there ...).
       Note that submissions must be made in the relatively narrow 1 to 31 October window !

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       State of the German Novel ?

       In The Skinny Annie Rutherford profiles Clemens Meyer & Jenny Erpenbeck on the German Novel, focusing on their two most recent novels.
       Apparently:
The German novels to be excited about right now have no comedy moustaches and no young men wearing horn-rimmed spectacles. Instead, theyíre experimental and full of empathy.
       I'm kind of thinking of holding out for some more comedy-mustache-filled fiction, German or otherwise .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Return to the Dark Valley review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Santiago Gamboa's new novel, Return to the Dark Valley, just out in English from Europa Editions.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



18 September 2017 - Monday

Mogadishu Book Fair | Prix Sade | New Quarterly Conversation

       Mogadishu Book Fair

       They just held the third Mogadishu Book Fair (13 through 15 September), and Reuters reports (here in The Nation (Pakistan)) that Somali book fair offers respite from bombs.
       Not much foreign involvement yet -- which isn't the worst thing ... -- but some good-sounding local activity.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prix Sade

       The prix Sade -- yes, as in the Marquis de Sade (whose The 120 Days of Sodom I recently reviewed ...) -- has announced its 2017 winner, and it's ...Gay Talese's The Voyeur's Motel (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), which, honestly, is pretty disappointing.
       At least the first novel prize went to Raphaël Eymery's Pornarina: la prostituée-à-tête-de-cheval (see the DenoŽl publicity page), which definitely sounds a lot more like it.

       (The prix Sade at least has a bit of an internet presence -- not it's own site, but a Facebook page, and, yeah, no way am I going to link to that, but see the Livres Hebdo piece.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       New Quarterly Conversation

       The Fall/2017 issue of the Quarterly Conversation is now available online, with the usual nice selection of coverage to keep you busy for a few days -- check it out.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



17 September 2017 - Sunday

St. Francis College Literary Prize | Manu Joseph Q & A

       St. Francis College Literary Prize

       The biennial St. Francis College Literary Prize started in 2009 as a prize for an author's fourth book, but has since been expanded to consider any: "3rd to 5th published work of fiction" -- an expansion they might want to reconsider after apparently getting 187 entries (alas, not revealed ...) this year, 50 more than last time -- and way more than the Man Booker Prize is willing to consider .....
       The six-title shortlist this year included a book that has now also made the Man Booker shortlist (Mohsin Hamid's Exit West), but the 2017 winning title was Dana Spiotta's Innocents and Others; see the Scribner publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. No word yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, Dana Spiotta Has Won a $50,000 Prize For Mid-Career Writers by Arianna Rebolini at BuzzFeed.
       (Note that the prize is (admirably) also willing to consider both self-published books and works in translation -- though it seems few translated works are submitted (Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat, a finalist in 2011 is an exception -- but I hope more publishers will look to submit in the future).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Manu Joseph Q & A

       In The Hindu Tishani Doshi has From the flea market of frailties: an interview with Manu Joseph -- the author of The Illicit Happiness of Other People and Serious Men.
       His new book, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous, discussed here, is just out (in India ...); see the Harper Collins India publicity page.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



16 September 2017 - Saturday

(American) National Book Awards longlists
Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature finalists
The Gourmet Club review

       (American) National Book Awards longlists

       They've now announced all the titles longlisted for this year's (American) National Book Awards, in all four categories (fiction, non, poetry, and 'young people's literature').
       The shortlists will be announced 4 October.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the biennial Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, a leading Kenyan literary prize -- that admirably honors both books written in English as well as in Kiswahili.
       See also Joseph Ngunjiri reporting in the Daily Nation that Writers battle for Kenya's top literary prize.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Gourmet Club review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Sextet of stories by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, The Gourmet Club.
       Originally published in English in 2001, this has recently been re-issued by University of Michigan Press, and it was certainly worth resurrecting -- striking stuff.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



15 September 2017 - Friday

Literary prizes: French longlists - Kobzar Literary Award shortlist

       Literary prizes: French longlists

       After the Gonourt and Renaudot, a whole flurry of other French literary prize longlists have appeared, including now:

        - the prix Médicis -- which has a French novel category, and a foreign category, but only announced the 14-strong French first selection, holding off with the foreign stuff until 26 September (apparently the judges needed more time to mull things over ?)
  • Best known (in the US/UK) author on the list: Chantal Thomas ?
  • Obligatory novel-with-a-real-person's-name-in-the-title: La disparition de Josef Mengele by Olivier Guez

        - the prix de Flore has announced a nine-title-longlist
  • Obligatory novel-with-a-real-person's-name-in-the-title: La disparition de Karen Carpenter by Clovis Goux
  • One-named author(s) on the list: Zarca ! (alas, without the exclamation point -- and, even more disappointingly, he goes by his full name on his Twitter feed)

        - the prix Femina also has both a French and a foreign category, and managed to get both shortlists out .... Interesting to see what foreign titles are attracting critical attention in France -- with quite a few translated from the English (and, indeed, somewhat disappointingly everything translated from European languages ...), and one title I have actually (just) reviewed, Christoph Ransmayr's Cox..

        - the Grand prix de littérature américaine -- in case you don't trust all those American literary prizes to tell you what's the best local stuff -- let the French decide !

       (All prize-links to the Livres Hebdo information pages -- because most of them don't have their own sites, sigh.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literary prize: Kobzar Literary Award shortlist

       The biennial Kobzar™ Literary Award offers good prize money -- C$25,000 -- and an interesting purview, honoring: "contributions to Canadian literary arts through presentation of a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit".
       The 2018 prize has now announced the five-title-strong shortlist, four non-fiction titles and a poetry-volume. (Light on the fiction, alas.)
       The winner will only be announced in March, 2018.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



14 September 2017 - Thursday

Man Booker Prize shortlist | Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist
Motoyuki Shibata Q & A | Cox review

       Man Booker Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction -- three US authors, three UK authors (and none of the titles under review at the complete review ...).
       (Ladbrokes offers odds on this, too -- and the George Saunders is the early heavy (2/1) betting favorite.)
       The winning title will be announced on 17 October.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the debut Warwick Prize for Women in Translation
       The sixteen titles -- selected from (a mere, sigh) 58 eligible entries (which they admirably do reveal (as all literary prizes should, and the ridiculous Man Booker Prize doesn't ...) -- though they really should make this list much easier to find ...) -- make for an interesting mix. Since they have to be UK/Ireland published, quite a few aren't readily US-available (yet); I've only seen four of these, and reviewed just one: Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Tawada Yoko (though a review of the Kawakami will follow, eventually -- and some of these others, too, if I can get my hands on them).
       A shortlist should be announced: "in early October"; the winner, on 15 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Motoyuki Shibata Q & A

       At the Words without Borders Daily weblog Susannah Greenblatt has An Interview with Motoyuki Shibata -- Japanese translator and editor in chief of Monkey Business.
       Good to hear:
WWB: When you're curating an issue, do you think a lot about what stories will be best received by Western audiences ?

MS: Actually, not very much. It's been my experience that no matter who the audience is, the most important thing is to do what I like. And to translate what I like.
       And among the authors he'd like to see translated is Furukawa Hideo -- "heís wilder than Murakami and takes more risks". Several of his books are already available in English, including Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure and Slow Boat, but as I've mentioned before, we're obviously still missing a lot -- check out some of the examples on the Furukawa-page at Books from Japan.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Cox review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christoph Ransmayr's Cox, oder Der Lauf der Zeit, forthcoming in English (eventually ...) from Seagull.

       It's an interesting variation on the (too-)popular trend of using actual people in works of fiction.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



13 September 2017 - Wednesday

German Book Prize shortlist | Translator conversation

       German Book Prize shortlist

       A day ahead of the Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement the German imitation, the German Book Prize, announced its six finalists.
       Other books by two of the shortlisted authors are under review at the complete review -- Thomas Lehr (Nabokovs Katze) and Robert Menasse (Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle) -- but I haven't seen any of these yet.
       Also: a very impressive Suhrkamp showing -- half the shortlisted titles, and all of them published this month .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Translator conversation

       At Book Riot they have A Conversation Between Literary Translators Marian Schwartz and Nicky Harman -- translators from the Russian and Chinese, respectively, and both with big translations coming out from AmazonCrossing.
       Polina Dashkova's Madness Treads Lightly might be a bit unexpected for Schwartz -- though it's not her first translation for AmazonCrossing (see, e.g. Andrei Gelasimov's The Lying Year) -- but given that she's translated heavyweights including Mikhail Shishkin's Maidenhair and Olga Slavnikova's 2017 pretty much anything she's done seems at least worth a look. I have both this and the Jia Pingwa (which I'm very much looking forward to), and expect to get to both.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



12 September 2017 - Tuesday

Windham-Campbell Festival | Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award
Indonesian literature | Elif Şafak Q & A | P.S. from Paris review

       Windham-Campbell Festival

       The Windham-Campbell Festival at Yale, at which they'll hand out the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, starts tomorrow and runs through Friday.
       With the Windham-Campbell Lecture to be delivered by Karl Ove Knausgård and a full, impressive programme it sounds very promising.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

       The relatively new Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, a biennial author prize worth 500,000 Danish Kroner (over US$80,000), has had an ... uneven winner's list: Paulo Coelho is listed as the first winner (2007), though the award only really came into being in 2010, when J. K. Rowling took the prize; since then, it's been: Isabel Allende (2012), Salman Rushdie (2014), and Murakami Haruki (2016).
       They've now announced -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked -- that A.S.Byatt will receive the 2018 prize; see, for example, Stephen Gadd's report in The Copenhagen Post, AS Byatt scoops prestigious Danish literary prize.
       An author award that honors both Coelho and Byatt ... it's almost as bizarre as one that honors Bob Dylan and ... any living writer .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Indonesian literature

       In The Jakarta Post Dylan Amirio speaks with John McGlynn: The uphill climb for Indonesian literature -- focusing on the struggles (and great accomplishments) of the Lontar Foundation -- still my leading source of Indonesian fiction !

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Elif Şafak Q & A

       At DeutscheWelle Gero Schliess has a Q & A with Elif Safak: 'Erdogan is the most devisive politician in Turkey's modern history' (and, yes, the DW copy editor missed that headline misspelling ...).
       "These are liquid times", she notes (and, yes, the translators also maybe missed something there ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       P.S. from Paris review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marc Levy's P.S. from Paris.

       The movie-tie-in Just Like Heaven (starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, based on his novel originally titled If Only It Were True) presumably has done well, but Levy, one of the best-selling French authors of the past twenty years, doesn't really seem to have established a foothold in the US (despite living here ...). Now AmazonCrossing has taken him up, publishing this (in a translation by reasonably heavyweight translator Sam Taylor (whose other current release is, after all, Laurent Binet's The Seventh Function of Language)) as well as following up with All Those Things We Never Said (in a re-issue that presumably barely counts, since no one read it when it first came out in English ...) in November.
       Amazon sales-wise, it seems to be doing great -- but presumably it won't be as prominently available at most bookstores (even New York's great French bookstore appears to have the French edition in stock and in-store-available, but the English edition is 'Available: online only' ...).
       It will be interesting to see whether the move to AmazonCrossing can be the (English-language) career game-changer for him.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



11 September 2017 - Monday

Nobel countdown | The Comely Cook review

       Nobel countdown

       That time of year approaches: perhaps in less than a month they'll be announcing the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017. And, hey, that should be of some interest, right ? After all, things can't go worse than they did last year, from the ridiculous choice they made to everything that happened (or, mostly, didn't) afterwards. Still, I'm finding it hard to work up much enthusiasm -- they blew up the prize last year, and I can't really figure out how to take it in any way seriously again. (Yes, it was silly before then, too, like all prizes, but at least predictably, mock-seriously silly; now ? they could give it to someone who works in finger-paints and I'd shrug.)
       Nevertheless, they (likely -- who knows how they might further distort the prize ...) will announce a winner on a Thursday in October; maybe the 5th, if not, then probably the 12th. (I can imagine some Swedish Academy infighting will again to lead to a later announcement date.)

       Early Nobel speculation information can be found at:        Last year's prize confirms that the betting sheets are still the most reliable guides to who might be in contention -- while all serious readers (and most less serious ones, like me) always dismissed Dylan, he always figured high in the betting, and it's now clear he was always in the running (though that still doesn't explain why -- why ? why ? why ?)
       So what do the early Ladbrokes odds suggest ? Margaret Atwood (66/1 at/near the close of betting last year; 6/1 now) -- because of her TV-tie-in success ? --, Claudio Magris (33/1 then; 10/1 now), and Yan Lianke (66/1 then; 14/1) are among the notably better-positioned from last year.
       One might also believe the Swedish Academy might be tempted to try course-correct (and appease those members who must still be livid over last year's selection -- and you know there are quite a few of them) with an ultra-'literary' choice -- a Krasznahorkai (20/1 -- odds unchanged from last year), for example
       I'll try to work up some enthusiasm and try to speculate who would be deserving -- though of course after 2016 the question becomes: who isn't ? and the answer is apparently: no one -- but the main contenders are pretty much the same as in years past, aren't they ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Comely Cook review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikhail Chulkov's The Comely Cook.
       I came across mention of it in Viktor Shklovsky's Life of a Bishop's Assistant, and fortunately it has been recently translated into English, in Three Russian Tales of the Eighteenth Century, from Northern Illinois University Press -- and fortuitously I had a copy .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



10 September 2017 - Sunday

Ian Buruma/NYRB profile | The 120 Days of Sodom review

       Ian Buruma/NYRB profile

       Murder in Amsterdam (etc.)-author Ian Buruma was recently named the new editor of The New York Review of Books, succeeding Robert Silvers, and in The New York Times John Williams profiles him and the transition, in Ian Buruma on a New Era at The New York Review of Books.
       As always, I can only hope for more fiction coverage. On the one hand, the new issue -- my copy hasn't arrived in the mail yet -- looks almost promising: Wyatt Mason on Pierre Michon, Joyce Carol Oates on Carson McCullers, and Michael Gorra on the new Claire Messud (plus Ruth Bernard Yeazell also on some Teenage Writings by Jane Austen) but two of the three (plus the Austen) are multi-title reviews (the much-loathed Sammelbesprechungen) ... sigh, surely more author- than book-focused.
       Still, one holds out hope ..... (And continues to read, and occasionally subscribe to, The New York Review of Books.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The 120 Days of Sodom review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the Marquis de Sade's notorious classic, The 120 Days of Sodom, or, The School of Libertinage, out in a new translation from Penguin Classics.
       They actually managed to get a lot of coverage for this (well, relatively, for a paperback re-translation), but mainly backstory -- it hasn't been widely reviewed. I'm surprised. It's an odd, and in many ways terrible book -- but it's also significant (as the widespread familiarity with at least its title should already suggest) and can't simply be dismissed (or embraced ...) as some sort of extreme-porn. As objectionable (and ridiculous) as most of the content is, it is not purely terrible; it is a text worth engaging with.
       Anyway, my review is the longest I've posted in a while -- over 3200 words. And that's just scratching some of the surface.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



9 September 2017 - Saturday

Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalists | The last 100 reviews

       Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalists

       They've announced (hey ! look ! not in the dreaded pdf format ! look how easy that is ! come on, folks, you can do that at your awards site too !) the finalists for this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prize -- awarded for books: "that have led readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view" --, in fiction and nonfiction.
       Some familiar names and much-discussed titles, especially in the fiction category. But, yeah, none are under review at the complete review ... I'd add 'yet', but I don't think I'll get to any of these very soon (in part because, as noted, they've been pretty well and widely covered).
       The winning titles will be annunced 3 October; the prize ceremony will be on 5 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The last 100 reviews

       We've reached 4000 books under review at the complete review, so it's time for another overview of the past 100 reviewed titles.

       - The last 100 reviews were posted over 188 days (previous hundred: 169), totaling 93,697 words (previous hundred: 98,458); the longest review was 1972 words, and six reviews were over 1500 words long.
       The reviewed books had a total of 25,387 pages (previous hundred: 25,034); despite a higher average page-total than the last hundred, only twelve had over 400 pages (previous hundred: eighteen), and the longest only had 742 pages. The trend of short and shorter books in translation continues, with seven reviewed titles under 100 pages.

       - Reviewed books were originally written in 26 different languages (including English; previous hundred: 28), with a three-way tie between English, French, and Japanese as the top language, with 18 titles apiece, followed by Spanish (10) and then distantly, German (4) Two new languages were added: Armenian and Yiddish. (See also the updated full breakdown of all the languages books under review were originally written in.)

       - Reviewed books were by authors from 36 countries (previous 100: 38), led by Japan (18), France (14.5) and the US (10.5).

       - As always, male-written books were overwhelmingly dominant -- 79 of the reviewed books were written by men (which was nevertheless sufficient to 'improve' the horribly sexist average of written-by-women titles under review ever so slightly, up to ... 15.80 per cent).

       - Two books received a grade of 'A' (down from four in the previous hundred) -- Antoine Volodine's Radiant Terminus and Marian Engel's Bear -- while exactly half the titles rated a 'B'. Only one book rated a 'C'.

       - Fiction dominated, as usual, with 83 titles that were novels/novellas/stories.

       - Eleven of the reviewed titles were first published in 2017 -- but, surprisingly, only two were first published in 2016 (2015:7; 2014:11). (Recall that year of initial publication is in whatever language the book was written in, not the date of the first English-language publication (unless it was wriitten in English, of course ...). Coverage of older titles still lags: only six were from 1900-1945, only two from the nineteenth century, only three from before 1800.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



8 September 2017 - Friday

Miles Franklin Literary Award | Such Small Hands review

       Miles Franklin Literary Award

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) that Extinctions, by Josephine Wilson, has won this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, the leading Australian novel prize (and worth A$60,000).
       Published by UWA Publishing -- yes, that's the University of Western Australia Publishing; see their publicity page -- it does appear to be Amazon available in the US (here) and UK (here).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Such Small Hands review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andrés Barba's Such Small Hands, out from Transit Books in the US and now also Portobello in the UK.

       Hispabooks already brought two of his title into English (see their Barba page), but this should be the breakout-work for him -- though I can understand some hesitance on the part of readers, because it is disturbing, in a way many readers feel uncomfortable being disturbed. But that's also one of the qualities of the book, expertly presented by Barba.
       Translator Lisa Dillman won the Best Translated Book Award in 2016 for her translation of Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World and it's hard to imagine this (similarly short) work won't be in the running for the 2018 prize (and the Man Booker International Prize as well).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



7 September 2017 - Thursday

Translation from ... Korean | Translation from ... Icelandic
Prix Roman-News | Mohsin Hamid Q & A

       Translation from ... Korean

       In The Korea Herald Joel Lee reports that Translators uplift Korean literature to global heights, reporting on the recent awarding of the Korea Translation Awards -- and thankfully not focused solely on translation-into-English.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Translation from ... Icelandic

       With the Reykjavík International Literary Festival having started yesterday, at Grapevine Björn Halldórsson reports on Found in Translation: Ideas Of Iceland From Across The Globe.
       Among the interesting odds and ends:
Not too long ago, most Icelandic books in translation had cover images of turf houses or other clichés, based on people’s idea of Iceland, rather than what the book was about. The further away you travelled, the stranger the covers became.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prix Roman-News

       They've announced the winner of the prix Roman-News -- of interest first, because it was (originally ? still ?) called the Prix du Roman-News Stiletto Publicisdrugstore, which takes branding to ... new heights doesn't seem quite the term ..., and second, because it is an interesting idea for a prize: it is awarded to the best French novel that is based on actual events ("une œuvre de fiction française qui s’inspire de l’actualité et la traite comme un roman")
       Not a genre I'm too enthusiastic about -- but of course a very popular, or at least widespread one.
       Anyway, Négar Djavadi's multiple-prize-winning Désorientale apparently takes this year's prize -- with Europa Editions slated to bring it out in English next spring; see this Publishers Weekly over/pre-view.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Mohsin Hamid Q & A

       In The National Robin Yassin-Kassab offers Ahead of NYUAD talk: In conversation with Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, the author of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, etc. -- and just-announced finalist for the 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
       I haven't seen Exit West yet, but do hope to get to it.

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6 September 2017 - Wednesday

2018 Neustadt Prize finalists | Prix Goncourt longlist
Rákshasa's Ring review | 4000 reviews

       2018 Neustadt Prize finalists

       They've announced the nine finalists for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the prestigious biennial, US$50,000 author prize.
       Each juror selects one finalist -- see the more detailed finalists-page for who selected whom -- and as usual it's an interesting mix -- if rather heavy on English-writing authors this time around. I'm not sure the mention of 'representative texts' -- at least so prominently, in the press release -- is helpful, given that this is an author prize .....
       Finalist Emmanuel Carrère is certainly having a good week: as I mentioned just yesterday, he's just been named winner of this year's (even more remunerative ...) Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances.

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       Prix Goncourt longlist

       The longlists for the prix Renaudot were announced Monday, as I mentioned, now followed by the first of the four rounds of the prix Goncourt yesterday -- fifteen titles.
       Not too many big or familiar-in-the-US/UK names -- Véronique Olmi and Patrick Deville are perhaps the two best-known.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Rákshasa's Ring review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vishákha·datta's Sanskrit classic, Rákshasa's Ring, published in the Clay Sanskrit Library.

       While the Murty Classical Library of India volumes are the more imposing and, ultimately, impressive, I do love the Loeb/pocket-sized Clay volumes (despite the transliterated Sanskrit ...).
       And for the many publishers and authors who complain that I haven't gotten to their book yet: never give up hope -- this review was posted 4296 days (yes, almost twelve years) after I received the review copy ..... Yes, that is a new 'record' (though not by all that much). (Obviously I'm never going to get to everything -- I do get more review copies (though not many more ...) than I could possibly review -- but surprisingly few titles ever get completely written off/weeded out.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       4000 reviews

       So, my review of Rákshasa's Ring is the four-thousandth review posted at the complete review. I'm no Harriet Klausner, but it's still a ridiculous amount .....
       But 4000 is not nice and round enough a number to retire on .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



5 September 2017 - Tuesday

EBRD Literature Prize launched | Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances
Prix Renaudot, first selection | Belladonna review

       EBRD Literature Prize launched

       The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (because, of course ...) has announced the launch of the EBRD Literature Prize, a €20,000 prize for: "a translated work of literary fiction written originally in any language from an EBRD country of operations and published by a UK publisher", with the cash to be split evenly between author and translator -- and two pairs of runners-up to get €1,000.
       The first prize is for books published (in translation, in the UK) between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017 -- and publishers have until 31 October to submit their entries. So do !
       OK, there is that limitation: "from an EBRD country of operations" ..... What are those ? Well, quite a mixed bag of 37 countries -- heavy on Eastern/South-Eastern Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union, but extending also as far Mongolia, Morocco, and Egypt.
       I note that several of these countries are unlikely to have a single eligible title available .....
       I do desperately hope the prize at least releases a list of all the submitted title .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances

       The Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances is a leading author-prize for Romance-language-writing authors -- and pays out a nice US$150,000. It has a solid list of winners -- Claudio Magris, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Norman Manea are the last three, for example -- and they've now announced that Emmanuel Carrère takes this year's prize.

       Quite a few Carrère-titles are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Prix Renaudot, first selection

       The French literary prize season now slowly gets rolling with the longlist announcements of the big prizes, and first up is the prix Renaudot, with 17 novels in the running, and (only ...) four works of non-fiction in the non-fiction category.
       They still haven't bothered with a dedicated site -- the French prizes really lag in this regard -- but Livres Hebdo has you covered with great coverage of all of them, so go there.
       Not many names thar are too familiar in the US/UK: Mahi Binebine and Hervé Le Tellier are among the few with (other) works available in English. (On the other hand, that jury is pretty studded: J.-M.G.Le Clézio, Frédéric Beigbeder, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, and Jérôme Garcin, among others. But they got all of one woman on a jury of ten ? What the hell happened there ?)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Belladonna review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Daša Drndić's Belladonna, out in the UK (but woefully under-reviewed there) from MacLehose Press and coming to the US from New Directions at the end of next month.

       Complete with Dubravka Ugrešić-cameo (and translator Ellen Elias-Bursać -- who did Drndić's Trieste, though not this one), and a nice take-down of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones, including:
Worst of all about Littell's book is that it is written in a language which is not, but aspires to be, the language of literature.
       And the next Andreas Ban-adventure has already been published in Croatian, as EEG; see the Fraktura publicity page.

       Meanwhile, also worthwhile: this Interview with Daša Drndić and Dragan Velikić by Andreea Apostu at Revista de Povestiri.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



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