With Indonesia as the Guest of Honour at last year's Frankfurt Book Fair there has been a bit more international coverage -- and more translations than usual (still only a handful, but still ...) -- of the local literature, and in The Guardian Louise Doughty now takes a look at '17,000 islands of imagination': discovering Indonesian literature.
Works by several Indonesian authors -- including some mentioned in the piece -- are under review at the complete review -- though also not nearly enough.
It would have been Australian Nobel laureate Patrick White's 104th birthday yesterday -- as good an excuse as any to read some of his books (even if many are still/again woefully hard to fnd in print ...).
I missed this a couple of weeks ago, but in the Sydney Morning Herald Linda Morris recently reported that National Library secures Patrick White's first book of poems.
My favorite part of the story:
White wrote to the National Library saying if they didn't take their copy of his other poetry anthology off shelves he'd steal it himself and destroy it.
In The Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports that 'plans for a writers' hub inch closer to fruition' in Rangoon, in House of Literature.
The selected building/site may have some symbolic appeal but looks hideous; still, if they can finally get this done (if: "the planned House of Literature project faces major delays", even now ...), that would be pretty neat.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Augusto De Angelis 1936 mystery, The Hotel of the Three Roses, the second to come out from Pushkin Press, in their Vertigo imprint, this year (with another to follow).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the classic eighteenth-century Japanese play, Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy, just out in a paperback re-issue (alas, a fairly pricey one) from Columbia University Press.
Do not expect many calligraphic revelations -- but it is certainly an entertaining piece.
Zang Jixian: Your works are gaining a large readership in the English-speaking world.
What would you say are the reasons ?
Can Xue: It's mostly because I integrate a lot of Western cultural elements in my work.
I believe I'm doing the best job among Chinese writers in that aspect.
Therefore, foreign readers can accept my work as literature.
Zang Jixian: Could you evaluate the current situation of China's literary world ?
Can Xue: I've said it before: I have no hope, and I don't feel like evaluating it.
At Sampsonia Way they now have a transcript of their Q&A with Fariba Hachtroudi, whose The Man Who Snapped His Fingers recently came out from Europa Editions; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I do like this reaction:
The publisher suggested cutting the length of the book.
And I said, "Instead of trimming the book, I'm going to add."
At the Literary Hub they have six new translation-related pieces (as they're apparently 'Celebrating Translation Month', whatever that might be ...).
It's all worth a look -- despite some really lax fact-checking in several places .....
(E.g.: "In 2015, 570 translated books were published in the United States" writes Anjali Enjeti -- relying on the invaluable Three Percent database, but ignoring what databaser Chad Post always makes very clear, that that refers only to: "titles that have never before appeared in English" (in the US); the actual number of 'translated books' published is, of course many times larger, thanks to new translations of previously translated titles and, especially, reprints of previously published translations.)
One suspects that the reason for obituaries in e.g. The New York Times and The Washington Post have more to do with her centenarian- than literary-status; regardless, the death of Chinese author (and translator) Yang Jiang deserves the notice -- even if her work hasn't made much of an English impression.
She's perhaps best know in the English-speaking world as the wife of Qian Zhongshu, author the classic Fortress Besieged; see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk,
but her own companion piece of sorts, Baptism, -- though much harder to find -- is also worth a look; see the Hong Kong University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Adam Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz is, of course, the great(est) Polish epic poem, and they've now opened up a museum dedicated to it, in Wrocław, the Muzeum Pana Tadeusza.
Looks pretty fancy; see also, for example, the Radio Poland report, Museum dedicated to Polish literary classic.
And if you're tempted to dip into the Mickiewicz in preparation for a visit, the dual-language Hippocrene Books edition of Pan Tadeusz, with the translation by Kenneth R. MacKenzie, looks like a handy volume; don't bother with their publicity-page (the world's least impressive publicity-page for a book ?), but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Wojciech Żukrowski's Stone Tablets, a 1966 Polish novel -- set in 1950s India, no less -- that's only now appearing in English, from Paul Dry Books.
(I was amused when I realized that I've actually read a work by Żukrowski before -- his Nieśmiały narzeczony, in a German translation (Der schüchterne Bräutigam) in a flimsy little East German paperback in Aufbau Verlag's paperback 'bb'-line that I picked up and read in the mid-1980s.)
They've announced that Nothing is True and Everything is Possible (by Peter Pomerantsev) has won this year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, an: "annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" (in this case, as the sub-title has it: "The Surreal Heart of the New Russia").
See also the publicity pages at Faber & Faber and PublicAffairs, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Austrian Cultural Forum has opened its call for the 2017 prize -- and while you have until 10 October to submit (a sample translation (ca. 4000 words/10 pages), of prose or poetry by a living Austrian author first published in the original German after 1945) it's never too early .....
The weightiest translation in recent memory -- Zibaldone may have a greater page-count, but it doesn't come close, measured in words or in kilos --, Arno Schmidt's monumental Bottom's Dream, is due out in John E. Wood's career-culminating translation from Dalkey Archive Press in September, and via I see now that it is closer than ever to reality: the Arno Schmidt Stiftung (who I suspect subsidized this volume most generously) have posted a picture of an actual copy -- a 'Vorabexemplar' -- at their blog:
Oh, yes !
Oh, very much yes !
Meanwhile, of course, you can prepare for the reading ... pleasure ? adventure ? experience ? ... all that and more, with my introductory Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy -- or, for a more direct taste of what Schmidt is up to, the also-John E. Woods-translated The School for Atheists.
And you can always already take the plunge and pre-order your copy of Bottom's Dream -- as quite surprisingly many brave (would-be, hopeful) readers have done -- at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(Don't hold out for the Kindle- (or any e-book-)edition -- that's not coming anytime soon, for reasons that will be obvious when you take a look at the print edition.)
In the Bangkok Post Kaona Pongpipat reports on Time-author Chart Korbjitti's latest 'novel', an experimental work based on his social media musings' titled facebook: โลกอันซ้อนกันอยู่, in Chart-ing Facebook.
Naturally, there is also a Facebook-page for the book .....
Yes, he does consider it a novel:
It's an experimental work in terms of the platform.
Issues I raised in my posts, if we are to consider this a novel, are the characters.
The book has every element a novel needs, the emotions, the subplots, the atmosphere, the ups and downs, and the climax.
They've announced the winner of this year's Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College, "the largest undergraduate literary award" in the US, worth US$65,770 this year (the total varies year to year, depending on the performance of the endowment).
"Reilly D. Cox, a double major in English and theatre with a minor in creative writing" takes this year's prize,
See the page on all the finalists to see who he beat out -- and samples of all the finalists' work.
You'd think -- indeed, I suspect most readers are convinced of it -- that there's simply no reason for this to happen any longer -- and yet it does.
Yes, there are still books being published in English translation that are not being translated directly from the language they were written in, but rather via a translation from another language.
A recent example, pointed out to me by a reader, is Agata Tuszyńska's memoir, Family History of Fear, just out from Alfred A. Knopf (an outfit which you'd think would know better; surely Blanche would blanch ...); see their publicity page -- which, you'll note doesn't so much as mention any sort of translator involvement (other than that Tuszyńska "is the author of six collections of internationally translated poetry" ,,,), or get your copy at Amazon.com.
At Amazon you can 'Look inside' -- and get a look at that shocking copyright-page, where they admit, in small print: "This translation is based on the French edition", and that the book is: "Translated by Charles Ruas from the French of Jean-Yves Erhel".
(Adding further insult to all this injury, Ruas didn't even get the translation copyright -- Knopf took care of that too.)
Yes, occasionally translation via other translations is justified -- and, indeed, many translations from 'smaller' languages into other smaller ones often happen via the English translation -- but this instance looks pretty dubious (to put it politely) to me.
Polish is not exactly an obscure language, and there are several first-rate translators(-directly)-from-the-Polish out there (Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Bill Johnston, for a start), and it's hard to imagine as much is gained via the French translation -- no matter how masterful Jean-Yves Erhel's work is -- as is lost by the two-fold translation process.
Of course, maybe the explanation is that Americans have become such translation-enthusiasts that they think the more translations a book has been through the better .....
They've announced the shortlist for this year's 'Internationaler Literaturpreis', a leading German prize for works of contemporary literature in German translation awarded by the 'Haus der Kulturen der Welt' ('house of the cultures of the world').
(At €20,000 for the author of the winning title, and €15,000 for the translator it also doesn't lag far behind the Man Booker International Prize in pay-out, either.)
Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the six titles was written in English -- and it's not by an American or British author, but rather by South African Ivan Vladislavić, the wonderful Double Negative.
The other title under review at the complete review is The Story of My Teeth (whose English translation has been doing well on the literary prize (translation and otherwise) circuit too).
The winner will be announced 14 June (though the awards ceremony will only be on 25 June).
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize -- eight books selected from "nearly 110 titles in translations from 15 different languages".
Though limited to (living) European languages, the prize does consider any "book-length literary translations into English" -- so there is a poetry volume along with a number of works of fiction.
Two of the finalists are under review at the complete review: John Cullen's translation of Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation and Lisa C. Hayden's translation of Eugene Vodolazkin's Laurus.
The winner will be announced 11 June.
(T)he book has gone into a second printing of 20,000 copies in the United Kingdom and 7,500 copies in the United States.
More interesting is that, as Choi Jae-bong reports at The Hankyoreh, in South Korea itself:
News of the Man Booker Prize nomination of The Vegetarian resulted in sales of over 40,000 copies for the novel, published in Korean in 2007.
Around 4,000 copies each were sold at Kyobo Books and on the online bookstore Aladdin on the award date of May 17 alone; at another online bookstore, Yes24, sales were up by 38 times from the day before.
Daisuke Kikuchi reports on the winners of the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize and the Yukio Mishima Prize, with Confessions-author Minato Kanae taking the former ("an entertainment award"), and eighty-year-old Hasumi Shigehiko taking the latter ("given for pure literature and essays").
Amusingly, in the Asahi Shimbun they report that:
This literary prize is awarded to up-and-coming novelists, but Hasumi is 80 years old.
He is well known as a critic.
But since his award-winning novel was just his third, it appears he was considered an "up-and-comer."
"I consider this an extremely lamentable thing for Japanese culture," Hasumi said about being selected for the award at his age.
They've announced that the 2016 Man Booker International Prize goes to The Vegetarian (by Han Kang, and translated by Deborah Smith -- who share the £50,000 winnings).
(A reminder that the Man Booker International Prize used to be a biennial award that honored authors (whose work was written in, or widely available in, English) for their life's work, but that starting this year the Man Booker International Prize is what the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was (and replaces that award in its entirety) -- an annual award for best translated work published in the UK over the previous year (more or less -- the 'year'-eligibility was stretched for this go-round ...) except that there is now more money on offer (and they call it the 'Man Booker International Prize').)
A worthy winner -- and there's still a chance this will be the first book to win both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Man Booker International Prize and the Best Translated Book Award -- albeit in different years, as The Vegetarian, published in the US considerably after it was in the UK, will only be eligible for next year's BTBA award.
They've announced that the 2016 Joseph-Breitbach-Preis will be awarded to Reiner Stach, for his work in literary biography -- specifically, his three-volume Kafka biography, the final volume (covering Kafka's earliest years) of which is due out in English in November; see the Princeton University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
This prize has a pretty decent list of winners -- which includes W.G.Sebald (2000), Herta Müller (2003), and Jenny Erpenbeck (2013).
Stach gets to pick his €50,000 up on 16 September.
They've announced the winners of this year's (Australian) NSW Premier's Literary Awards -- possibly even at the official site, but I can't make heads or tails (much less want to wade through) that user-unfriendliest of abominations.
Fortunately, you can find the winners listed at the end of Susan Wyndham's coverage of the awards in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled and noting: Indigenous writers rise to the top of the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.
My book, The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction came out in the US last month, and today is apparently the offical UK (and beyond ...) publication date -- so if you haven't pre-ordered or gotten your copy yet, you can now easily from Amazon.co.uk and the like (and, of course, you can get your copy in the US, too, from your local bookseller, or Amazon.com, etc. ...).
Yes, apparently the world premiere of an opera version of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown -- music by Jack Perla, libretto by Rajiv Joseph -- will take place at the Opera Theatre of St.Louis 11 June.
The Zimbabwe International Book Fair runs 27 to 30 July this year, and in The Herald they're suggesting It's time to revamp ZIBF.
There's much reveling in what once was -- "ZIBF used to be one of the prestigious events on the local arts calendar and many renowned figures in the world of literature visited the country to attend the fair" -- but things haven't been going quite so well in recent years, as: "strategies to make the fete attractive seem to evade custodians of the event".
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's 1942 novel, The Widow -- one of his darker, non-Maigret titles, which New York Review Books re-issued a couple of years ago
This was made into a film in 1971, with some pretty good casting: it starred Alain Delon and Simone Signoret.
In his Introduction to the NYRB edition, Paul Theroux notes that Simenon was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, and: "predicted in 1937 that he would win it within ten years" -- and that he was outraged that "that asshole" Camus got it (in 1957) before he did.
Simenon as Nobel laureate may sound unlikely but he was indeed -- regularly -- nominated for the prize (albeit only starting in 1958 -- the year after Camus' win).
[Recall that you have to be in it -- nominated -- to win it: Proust, Kafka, Joyce, and many others never were.]
The records are only open to 1965 so far (they're only opened fifty years after the fact), but Simenon already managed seven nominations by then; given that he only died in 1989, it's distinctly possible that he eventually was nominated more often than Camus (eleven times, in seven different years).
It's still unclear whether he was ever a serious contender, but the nominations -- including multiple ones in 1958 (three -- or were they all just reacting to the Camus win ?) and 1961 (two) -- suggest quite a few folks thought he should be.
The International Dylan Thomas Prize is only limitedly international -- "The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under", but I guess 'international' sounds better than 'monolingual' ... -- but is otherwise a nice idea, and they've announced that this year's winner is Grief is the Thing with Feathers (by Max Porter).
The US edition is due out shortly, from Graywolf Press -- pre-order your copy at Amazon.com -- or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk.
Good to see some Frédéric Dard anticipation-excitement building, as Pushkin Press are set to publish a couple by the prolific (and super-best-selling) French master -- even if it comes with horrific headlines such as 'Unknown' French author's noir crime novels set for UK, as Dalya Alberge writes in The Observer.
'Unknown' in quotation marks indeed -- Dard has sold ... more than most (literally hundreds of millions of copies).
But, yes, he's not well-represented in English (but I did slip him in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction because ... Frédéric Dard ! come on !).
And, yes, Pushkin's commissioning editor Daniel Seton is correct in noting that one reason so little has been translated into English is because especially the San-Antonio books (the bulk of his output) rely on language-play that's hard to translate, while these 'novels of the night' (that Pushkin is focusing on): "are less reliant on that kind of wordplay".
Nevertheless, the translator of the first title they're publishing is none other than master word-playing translator David Bellos.
It's already under review at the complete review, too: Bird in a Cage.
Reviews of the other ones will follow just as soon as I can get my hands on them.
At the Los Angeles Review of Books Liesl Schillinger inaugurates what sounds like a promising series of conversations with literary translators which, she explains: "reflect my desire to learn as much as I could about these masters, and to share with you some of the secrets of their art: I wanted to translate the translators".
First up in this series of/on 'Multilingual Wordsmiths' is Lydia Davis and Translationese.
On Tuesday 17 May, at 19:30, there will be a panel on The Sound of Translation at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, moderated by Liesl Schillinger (who is obviously prepped and ready for some serious translation discussion; see above), with Tess Lewis, Rüdiger Wischenbart, Ross Ufberg, and yours truly.
As if that weren't exciting enough, it's a three-for-one event, as this year's ACFNY Translation Prize will also be launched, and the Diversity Report 2016 will be introduced.