They've announced the winner of the Finlandia-palkinto, with Riikka Pelo taking the prize for her Marina Tsvetaeva-novel, Jokapäiväinen elämämme ('Our everyday life'); see also the Books from Finland report.
This is the leading Finnish literary prize -- with an impressive list of previous winners (several of which have been translated into English, most recently Sofi Oksanen's Purge and 2011 winner Rosa Liksom's Compartment No 6 due out next spring (pre-order your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk)) -- and I note that at €30,000 it pays out more than the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circles Award combined (twice over, even).
For more information about Jokapäiväinen elämämme , see the (Finnish) Teos publicity page, or the short (English) review at Books from Finland.
Lee's recent Folio edition proves that he is more widely recognized in France than in Korea.
And she notes:
Widely known for his interest in Korean literature, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, the 2008 Nobel Laureate for Literature, mentioned Lee Seung-u as a likely candidate for the prize, along with other Korean writers such as Anatoly A. Kim and Hwang Sok-yong.
(Any Nobel-name-check list that includes Russian-writing Anatoly A. Kim -- pretty impressive.
Note also that as a Nobel laureate Le Clézio is allowed to submit a nomination every year -- might he go the Korean route ?)
Lee Seung-u is, of course, not entirely unknown in English either -- indeed, The Reverse Side of Life is under review at the complete review.
Oridnarily I'm all for more writing and more publishing in local (and any) languages, in India and elsewhere, but I'm finding it hard to get on board here.
As reported in the Times of India, 'No vernacular market for military literature', which sounds good to me -- but:
Former Army chief, General Shankar Roy Chowdhary said we need more writers in vernacular language for military writing
Maj Gen G D Bakshi conveyed "a need to eulogise modern military heroes to teach ethics and values to young growing children".
He mooted the idea of Indian war comics
Teaching ethics and values, and eulogizing military actions appear to me to be entirely incompatible.
And to combine 'war' and 'comics' -- to crudely simplify in drawings, and try to make palatable or even appealing the ugliest and most contemptible of human activities ... no, it's good to hear that writers, vernacular or otherwise, show little interest in having any part of this.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Patrick White's first novel, Happy Valley.
Much of White's work has long been out of print (especially in the US), but this is a title whose unavailability White himself was long responsible for: he refused to allow it to be republished during his lifetime.
Australian publisher Text have now finally brought the 1939 work out again, in their excellent Text Classics series -- and have now also brought it to the US, where some of the volumes from the series are being distributed.
(A warning, just in case you've not read any White before: despite the title, this is not a cheery work.
Yet, despite being grim and grimmer, there's also a surprising verve to it -- so don't let that put you off it, either.)
The German Literatur Archiv Marbach is one of the more impressive literary museums, and most of their exhibits sound like they're worth a trip, but one of the new ones, Der ganze Prozess ('The whole trial') really stands out: they have (for the first time) the entire manuscript of Kafka's The Trial on display, along with diary and manuscript pages from related works (through 9 February).
In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Andreas Breitenstein is the latest to rave about it, in Die Stunde der Papiere.
Okay, they're not exactly up to date here -- Murakami Haruki's A Wild Sheep Chase came out in Japan in 1982 -- but, as IBNA reports, this novel has now also come out in Iran.
The cover is pretty cool, too:
It's always interesting to see what the hell they're publishing in Iran, and often surprising what does make it past the censors.
As it happens, this is also an interesting example of what happens in a (legal-)regime that's essentially a copyright free-for-all (since Iran isn't bound by the international rules on this (a two-way street, which also makes Iranian writings vulnerable to foreign (ab)use)).
This novel may be some thirty years old, but it's apparently a hot title in Iran right now, as:
The new book, translated by Mahmoud Moradi, is released while some two weeks ago another rendition, by Mahdi Qhabraie, had been marketed.
Two different translations published in the space of two weeks !
In The New York Times Charles McGrath writes about his experiences as a judge for the fiction category of this year's (American) National Book Award, in Caution: Reading Can Be Hazardous.
He reveals that there were 407 entries (though he, and the NBF, and no one will tell you what they were, sigh ...), and he gives a nice overview of what it means to deal with so many books.
As a judge for the Best Translated Book Award, considering some 350 (give or take a few dozen) works of fiction, I can certainly commiserate -- especially with the where-to-put-all-those-damn-books problem .....
(On the other hand, not a single one of the ten longlisted NBA titles (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) has even come across my desk, so at least my piles remain dedicated entirely and solely to the task at hand.)
It's Nobel ceremony time, and although literature laureate Alice Munro can't attend all the festivities, she videotaped a Nobel lecture which they will be screening at 17:30 CET today; see information here -- streaming, and a transcript, should be available around that time on the Nobel site.
(Updated - 8 December): You can now watch Munro's Nobel 'lecture', "Alice Munro: In her Own Words", or read the transcript.
The European Parilament press release reveals that they've announced the winners of this year's European Book Prizes (the best I can find at the official site isn't even the short list, but rather the preliminary présélection 2013 (which at least offers an interesting overview of recent European titles)).
Eduardo Mendoza -- author of The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt and No Word From Gurb -- won the fiction category for another book that is already available in English, An Englishman in Madrid, published by MacLehose Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(There's also a non-fiction category; that prize went to Ces Français, fossoyeurs de l’euro, by Arnaud Leparmentier (which I mention only because, well, 'fossoyeurs' is a really cool word (and the fact that it means' 'grave-diggers' -- makes it even better. Those French !)).)
They've announced the winners of this year's Indian Crossword Book Awards (but, well, you know ... as my sadly tireless refrain has it: not at the official site, last I checked ...).
See, for example, the Times of Indiareport for the winners -- of which there were two in the case of several categories.
The translation prize went to M.Asaduddin's translation of Ismat Chughtai's A Life in Words -- good to see her work being honored, disappointing that it's not fiction but rather just her memoir; see also the Penguin India publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or Flipkart.
It'll still be a while before this comes together as any sort of proper review, but preliminary coverage of the incredible new translation of Giacomo Leopardi's Zibaldone -- one of the publishing-events of the year -- is now up, with the hope that a proper review will slowly coalesce out of my reading.
(Meanwhile, it at least serves as a useful page for links to all the other reviews, etc.)
At Prospect David Wolf continues his interesting 'Critical thinking'-series of Q & As 'about the art of criticism' -- this time with Daniel Mendelsohn.
As readers might recall, just three weeks ago I took issue, at some length, with Mendelsohn writing in a 'Bookends'-column in The New York Times Book Review about how vital he felt it was for the critic to consider any particular book very much in the context of the author's entire body of work (whereas my strong preference is to focus on the work at hand and ignore, as far as possible, the hand behind it).
He's at it here again:
I still think it's imperative, even if you're a weekly critic, to do more than read the book in question.
It's still inconceivable to me for anybody, including a newspaper critic with a weekly beat, not to read the other works by an author.
It's just irresponsible not to do that because you're failing to do your job, which is to make things interesting and coherent for your reader.
If you haven't read the author's other books, you don't know if the book that you're reviewing represents an evolution, an improvement or whatever.
Quite honestly, I continue to be baffled by this.
Yes, the literary biographer or historian, and arguably even some practitioners of literary criticism have some reason to go in for this sort of thing -- but not, I'd suggest, 'simple' book reviewers (i.e. those who write reviews for publications aimed at a more or less general audience -- from the complete review to The New York Review of Books).
I get that it's hard to look at the new (or old) Philip Roth without considering/seeing/being blinded by all the other Roths; hell, I've just read Patrick White's debut, Happy Valley (review to follow soon) and it was incredibly difficult not to constantly consider it in the larger White-context.
Nevertheless, I still maintain a book-by-book approach is, in almost all cases far more useful.
And I regret that Wolf didn't force the issue a bit, as Mendelsohn gave him a nice opening, mentioning his The New York Review of Books-review (not freely accessible online) of The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.
Not much discussion there by Mendelsohn of Littell's first book, Bad Voltage, or how Littell had moved on (including to a whole new language !) with The Kindly Ones.
Maybe Bad Voltage is, for some reason, simply negligible and doesn't have to be counted or considered -- not-quite-juvenilia ? a young author trying to find his literary niche ?
Who knows ? I don't, but then that's because I prefer considering the book under discussion on its own terms -- as, in the case of The Kindly Ones, Mendelsohn did too.
Any future literary historian/biographer/scholarly critic of Littell will surely also take Bad Voltage into account re. any reading of The Kindly Ones -- but I imagine there's other extraneous matter that must also be considered (and likely offers more useful insight).
Littell's time in the Caucasus is perhaps the most obvious, in leaving its traces in the book -- though I, for one, would imagine his father Robert Littell's writing is more significant than, for example, his own Bad Voltage and I'm surprised there hasn't been more rooting around in that.
Reading the Patrick White has been instructive, in many ways.
Here's an author whose work I am very familiar with -- practically all of it -- and one way of reading it would have been to just look for clues to his future work here.
Maybe something for the biographer or literary historian, but not me .....
Indeed, if we're considering context, it seems more useful to look at Happy Valley as a product of its times, rather than a product specifically of his, the influences (both the who and the what) -- Joyce, Stein, even Dos Passos -- more intriguing than considering, for eample, how specifically White moved on from here in his later work.
(In his 'Bookends'-column Mendelsohn suggests Donna Tartt as an author whose evolution reviews should chronicle and consider (yawn) -- but surely there's an argument for seeing both The Secret History and The Goldfinch in the contexts of their time -- not with respect to what else she has written, but rather what others are writing, and specifically what the world at large at those times looks like (especially given the roughly decade-long intervals between books): it seems far more interesting (to me) to consider The Goldfinch, with its strange slice of New York -- a sort of timeless version of the city that's barely recognizable as any version of the actual one in its broad outlines and yet nails so many specifics well -- in this respect than considering, for example, how Tartt's use of young-kid-protagonists has (or rather: hasn't) evolved from book to book.)
A few days ago they announced that Memorial, by Alice Oswald, has won this year's Poetry Society Corneliu M Popescu Prize 2013 for poetry translated from a European language into English.
(The shortlist impressively included translations from the Albanian, Estonian, and Galician -- and French classics (Rimbaud, Mallarmé), too.)
At PEN Atlas David Wheatley, one of the judges, now writes about Poetry in translation -- The Popescu Prize 2013.
In Vanguard Japhet Alakam presents a Q & A Wole Soyinka recently had with students at the Ake Art and Books Festival, Winning the Nobel didn't affect my writing.
Quite a variety of (not your usual) questions -- and he explains why he wears collarless shirts.
They've announced that Andrei Volos has won the 2013 'Russian Booker' (Русский Букер -- yes, despite no Booker cash, they inexplicably still retain the name ...) for his Возвращение в Панджруд; see also, for example, the elkost literary agency information page (yup, this one has gotten a lot of award-consideration -- enough to whet any US/UK publisher interest ?).
See also the report at Lizok's Bookshelf.
He gets a decent prize-sum of about $45,000 -- but it's fellow finalist Маргарита Хемлин who cashes in with half that sum but also a translation-into-English deal, for Дознаватель.
The latest winner of the biennial €14,500 Franz Nabl-Preis -- the Literaturpreis der Stadt Graz ('literary prize of the city of Graz' -- Austria's second biggest city, and my hometown), an author (as opposed to book) prize (the Austrians, like the Germans, prefer doing the author- rather than book-honors) -- has been announced, and it is Slovenian-writing (a first !) Florjan Lipuš.
How serious to take the prize ?
Well, they gave it to two Nobel laureates, pre-Stockholm -- Elias Canetti (1975) and Herta Müller (1997) -- and other prize winners include ... oh, just: Peter Handke, Christa Wolf, Martin Walser -- and, in more recent years, quite a few authors also available in translation (Terézia Mora, Josef Winkler, Urs Widmer, etc.).
Good timing, too, because while you probably haven't gotten to Lipuš yet (at least in English) ... why, look here, Dalkey Archive Press have conveniently just come out with a translation (forty years after the fact and initial publication, but hey ...) of his The Errors of Young Tjaž -- a novel Peter Handke himself translated into German (which is a pretty decent seal of approval for a text).
See their publicity page, or get your copy -- go on ! -- at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lorenzo Silva's The Faint-hearted Bolshevik, a 1997 Premio Nadal finalist that is now finally available in English, co-translated by Nick Caistor, and published by Hispabooks.
Hispa who ?
Hispabooks, yet another model for fiction-in-translation-publishing.
Spain-based, they're taking advantage of the new technologies -- my copy is basically a print-on-demand-one, spit out and delivered by Lightning Source (as a surprising number of the books I receive nowadays are), but looking every bit as good as any other trade paperback -- and introducing an impressive selection of Spanish titles to English-reading audiences.
It's amazing that this is the first Silva to make it into English -- after all, this guy has a decent track record, culminating in his taking the 2012 Premio Planeta -- a book prize whose €601,000 pay-out puts all English-language book prizes to shame.
In Japan they apparently operate on a slightly different calendar in calculating annual bestsellers, the most popular tallies now reporting the bestselling books of 2013 (which are, in fact, the bestselling books of 19 November 2012 to 17 November 2013 ...) ... and, as Ida Torres reports at JDP, Haruki Murakami's new novel tops Japan's 2013 best-sellers list, with 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年 shifting some 985,000 copies, and putting it ahead of 医者に殺されない４７の心得, which sold around 814,000 copies (but note that the Tohan bestseller lists (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- which actually list the books, but without sales-totals -- reverses the order, putting the Murakami second ...).
The Murakami is due out in English in 2014; I suspect it won't sell quite as many copies, even in the US/UK combined .....
Starting next year, he is to make more pitches to overseas publishers, including Random House, Harper & Row and Simon & Schuster, to publish English translations of Korean literature.
"Once published by these publishers, it becomes relatively easier to get reviews from the major media outlets (in the U.S.) and more likely for the books to receive attention," Kim said.
(I'm not sure who is advising him or where he gets his information, but 'Harper & Row' hasn't been the name of the publisher for nearly a quarter of a century, since the News Corp takeover of 1990 .....)
Interesting, too, to hear that:
Up until this year, LTI Korea has been sending fully translated texts to foreign publishers instead of short summaries.
"We realized that takes too much time, energy and money," he said.
"So we decided to just translate highlights from each novel and provide a brief summary.
We think it'll be much more efficient and more appealing to overseas editors."
(Of course, it's sad that American editors have to rely on served-up-to-them English translations to get any insight into the titles (i.e. that essentially none of them can read any of these languages).)
Kim also wants to see Korea's prominent authors have well-known translators who work exclusively with them and their works. Many celebrated Asian writers, including Haruki Murakami, Mo Yan and late Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata, each worked or are working with a single translator for English editions of their works, Kim said.
"Most of Kawabata's works were translated by Seidensticker," said Kim.
"For Haruki Murakami, there is Jay Rubin of Harvard University.
For Mo Yan, there is Howard Goldblatt. We need more excellent translators (working exclusively) for Korean writers and their works."
Of course, that's an oversimplification -- and in Murakami's case flat-out not true, as Alfred Birnbaum and Philip Gabriel have certainly translated their fair share.
(And having recently read Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain in Seidensticker's translation, I can only say that those have gotten very creaky.)
Still, it's good to see someone who is obviously very pro-active and trying out a lot of things -- indeed, there are a hell of a lot of countries that I wish were similarly active.
They've announced that The City of Devi, by Manil Suri, has won the 2013 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
I'm just relieved I haven't reviewed it yet, as I've dealt with too many of the recent winners (last years' -- Infrared, by Nancy Huston -- and 2009 winner The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell).
But if you want to get a taste of Suri's prose, get your copy of The City of Devi at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(The dismal sales-ranks at the Amazons suggest the prize does not have a great positive influence on sales.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ken MacLeod's The Restoration Game -- a nice little surprise I picked up at the library; certainly an author that has piqued my interest.
At BookBrunch Text Publishing publisher (and The Ern Malley Affair-author) Michael Heyward discusses: 'how an editorially led Australian independent is going international', in Good, old-fashioned Text.
An interesting look at an unusual publishing/writing-market -- as also: "Even 20 years ago, an Australian book was an exotic item on the international rights market" -- and it's impressive how they've established themselves very nicely, with a roster of authors any international publisher would be pleased to have.
And their Text Classics line -- "milestones in the Australian experience" -- is also a great idea -- as is international distribution, which means you can actually find some of these in your US/UK bookshops.
(They were also kind enough to send me some of these, so reviews will be up of a few of these titles soon (beginning, of course, with Patrick White's Happy Valley).)
In The Phnom Penh Post Emily Wight profiles president of the Cambodia Librarians and Documentalists Association Hok Sothik in Bookish champion hopes to boost Cambodia's lost culture of reading, as they held the third Cambodia Book Fair over the weekend.
It's apparently difficult to drum up interest, as what literary culture there was obviously suffered greatly under the Khmer Rouge ("Books were used to make cigarettes. Teachers, authors and books were all destroyed, as was so much of an entire generation") and even now: "people aren't very interested in books".
Among the projects working to change that is the Nou Hach Literary Journal, profiled in another piece in The Phnom Penh Post, by Cecelia Marshall, who reports that: Cambodian literary journal sees revival.
Poet -- and Oxford Professor of Poetry -- Geoffrey Hill will give his first lecture of the 2013-14 academic year, 'Poetry and "The Democracy of the Dead"'. today at 17:30
Several of his lectures from previous years are available here for you to listen to (though alas two seem to have been lost to 'technical problems') -- well, well worthwhile.
Some nice winter treats to get you started with in December, as issues of a variety of online periodicals are now available with a load of great reading -- notably:
Words without Borders' December issue features the Oulipo -- with a bonus section on: "New Writing from Sudan".
Start of with Many Subtle Channels-author Daniel Levin Becker's introduction, and work your way through !
The Winter 2014 issue of the Quarterly Conversation is packed with good stuff (though I think Steve Donoghue is way too kind regarding Pierre Michon's Rimbaud the Son ("Readers who surrender to the strange whorls and swirls of this book will be lifted out of themselves and thrilled and sometimes richly, lastingly disoriented" -- yeah, okay ...))
At VietNamNet Bridge they report that there seems to be a pretty widespread local consensus that in Viet Nam Quality literature in dramatic slump.
(Of course, Dương Thu Hương was, for example, one of the nominees for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature -- but maybe her work isn't quite what they have in mind, either .....)
In The Caravan, N. Kalyan Raman writes about 'The Kongunadu novels of Perumal Murugan', the Tamil author, in Boats against the Current, offering an interesting introduction into Tamil fiction historically, and then Perumal Murugan's work in particular.
Several of his works have been translated into English; get your copy of, for example, Seasons of the Palm from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
As Helen Croney writes at the Scottish Book Trust weblog, The Favourite Scottish Novel is Revealed as they took a poll: "to find the favourite Scottish novel of the last 50 years".
Over 8,800 votes were cast, and Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh, beat out Lanark by Alasdair Gray, 833 votes to 750.
(A more distant third, the somewhat surprising choice of ... Black and Blue, by Ian Rankin (well, choices were limited to one book per author, so presumably this one was taken as representative ...).)
Can't really argue with either Trainspotting or Lanark (both of which I read before I started this site, which is why they're not under review here).
Get your copy of Trainspotting at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I think publishers take translation much more seriously than they did 20 or 30 years ago.
A great many translations are well produced and with attractive covers.
At least some publishers publicise their translation list well, and make certain that they are reviewed.
But it is a fact of life, I think, that there will never be a wide readership for many -- or indeed most -- translations outside specialised university courses.
But at least there is a readership there.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jang Eun-jin's No One Writes Back.
This is another in Dalkey Archive Press' new Library of Korean Literature-series -- and an interesting piece of work.
It is, in many respects, an atypical Dalkey publication -- though since they gotten into this national literature series-business big time their offerings (in these areas) have become a bit more unpredictable: Ayşe Kulin, anyone ? (see their publicity page) an author whose other American publisher is ... AmazonCrossing ?
Dalkey have had books that I thought could do well as mass-market/airport-store titles -- Paul Verhaeghen's Omega Minor, for one.
But this is something different, a bona fide crowd-pleaser that practically begs to be a book club selection.
I'm surprised -- stunned -- no commercial publisher landed this one, which I think might be have been a better Korean title to try to break into the American market than the 2011 lead title, Shin Kyung-sook's Please Look After Mom.
The drawback of how it comes to market now is that that Dalkey imprint can be both a blessing and a curse -- and I'm not sure it'll find its natural audience here (especially in that look-alike-covered series -- which I think is great but might put off some readers).
So, for example, as I write this, a few weeks after it came out, the Amazon.com page shows -- aside from a disappointing sales rank of 590,794 -- only six additional items under 'Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought'.....
The first three are also titles from this series, followed by Sonallah Ibrahim's That Smell and Notes from Prison (New Directions), Amsterdam Stories by Nescio (NYRB), and another Dalkey title, Edouard Levé's Autoportrait.
Good stuff -- very good ! -- but also pretty serious stuff, from smaller publishers, and nothing near as popular fare as this has the potential to be.
And people buying No One Writes Back should be the ones who also bought the more prominently marketed Korean titles -- say Kim Young-ha's I Have the Right to Destroy Myself -- as well as, of course, Please Look After Mom (the number two most-also-bought title (after another of his own) for I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, for example.
Here's also a case-study regarding the power of (some) reviews: No One Writes Back has been shamefully under-covered (though admittedly that flooding-the-market-with-ten-volumes-at-once schedule is a challenge for reviewers), but it got a glowing review from Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian just over a week ago -- and look here, the UK Amazon page sports both a much healthier sales-rank (an impressive 7,194 as I write this) and the 'Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought' list is much more diverse (and not at all Korean-centric -- surprisingly, it doesn't include any other Korean titles at this time).
(It also got a far less glowing review (scroll down) at Totally Dublin, but for now The Guardian review seems to have carried the day -- or at least influenced more book-buyers.)
Presumably, the titles in this series won't get all that much individual attention, reviewers at best lumping several (or all ?) together in omnibus reviews.
It's too bad: as The Guardian recognized, this one certainly deserves to be looked at all on its own -- as do the others.
In The New York Times Jennifer Schuessler reports on prolific (and Tirza-) author Arnon Grunberg's The Quantified Writer-project, in Wired: Putting a Writer and Readers to a Test: 'Arnon Grunberg Is Writing While Connected to Electrodes'.
It's an ... interesting undertaking -- and I'm sure we'll see a lot more of this sort of the thing in the future.
I'll have a bit more faith in any results when there aren't asides such as: "a technician from a Dutch software company carefully poured water over some of the electrodes to improve their conductivity" ("it can get a bit drippy", Grunberg notes).
Personally, the most interesting/astonishing fact I gleaned from the piece was that Grunberg apparently writes in his (admittedly almost spacious, by New York city apartment standards) ... kitchen, as suggested by the accompanying photograph:
Sure, in New York one makes use of every inch of living-space one can afford, but setting up computers (and bookshelves) in a kitchen seems pretty desperate -- or a sure sign that not much cooking (especially involving frying) is done there.
(Or has he only temporarily re-located his work-space because, you know, "it can get a bit drippy" ... ?)
Typographical Era is running a best-translation-of-the-year competition, where visitors vote for the winner -- from a now-finalized shortlist, which was also determined by popular vote.
An interesting eight titles are now left in the running -- with Frisch & Co. the only publisher to place two titles in the finals --, and you have until 19 December to vote.
Only three of the titles are under review at the complete review -- Tirza (by Arnon Grunberg), The President's Hat (by Antoine Laurain), and The Devil's Workshop (by Jachym Topol), but I have dipped into all eight -- and they're all also eligible for the Best Translated Book Award, for which I am a judge; it will be interesting to see how much overlap there is (several of these -- you can guess which -- seem very likely to make the BTBA longlist).
Sixty-two votes registered as I write this -- add your voice !
I assume that the data about the demographics of visitors to this site is not of quite as much interest to most readers as it is to me; still, maybe it is of interest to note that the American share of my audience reaches its nadir on Thanksgiving Thursday.
For the year, to date, 40.37% of site-visitors come from the US; on 4 July that dipped to 28.19% -- the previous low for the year, which has now been topped by Thanksgiving day, where a mere 24.86% of visitors were from the US.
On the other hand, the site did manage the elusive double of getting visitors from both Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday.
(I'm still waiting on anyone from North Korea to drop in, however.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Belarusian author Victor Martinovich's (written-in-Russian) novel, Paranoia.
Very reminiscent of the good old bad old days of the Soviet Union, the book was banned in Belarus shortly after publication -- but things are a bit different in the bizarro-world that is Lukashenko's fiefdom, and it is good to see that this hasn't stopped another of Martinovich's novels from being featured in Books from Belarus; he's a hot (export-)commodity, after all.
They've announced the shortlist for the 2014 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize -- though apparently not yet at the official Jewish Quarterly site, last I checked .....
But Booktrade has the press release, and among the titles in the running are books by Edith Pearlman and Ben Marcus.
The winner will be announced 26 February 2014.
A couple of months ago they aired Tom Stoppard's Pink Floyd/Darkside of the Moon tribute/inspired radio-play, Darkside, on BBC2 radio.
(I actually got to hear it, and it's an interesting if odd philosophical-games-filled work.)
They've now released a fancy CD + bound insert + 'bonus disc' ("with text translations in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin and Russian") set; see the official site, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(Looks like a pretty neat Christmas gift idea .....)
And in The New York Times a few days ago Larry Rohter had a Q & A with Stoppard about the project, An Author Dives Into Pink Floyd.
At Books from Finland Teemu Manninen consider Decisions, decisions: the fate of virtual literature, noting that after the initial excitement -- "When the internet was young, I too believed that it would usher in a new age of world literature, a truly global literary culture" -- the over-abundance of information available online has proven near-paralyzing:
when there are so many opinions to be had and so many new writings to get excited about, it's not just decision fatigue which sets in, but a kind of valuation fatigue: how do I know what to concentrate on ?
How do I know what's good anymore ?
And, more importan[t]ly, how do I know that what's online is actually representative of literary culture on the whole ?
Because of decision and valuation fatigue, only the most prohibitively schematic and the most violently caricaturish gets through to us -- and when that happens, we are likely to stop reflecting and start reacting, exposing ourselves and our readers to meaningless rhetorical debate rather than offering them the carefully considered, distilled ideas that used to be called print-worthy.
Seems an over-simplification to me -- but what do I know, exposing you to all that: "meaningless rhetorical debate" like I constantly am .....