Swiss author Jürg Laederach has passed away; see, for example, Paul Jandl's Neue Zürcher Zeitungpiece.
He wasn't widely translated into English, but Semiotext(e) brought out 69 Ways to Play the Blues (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and Dalkey Archive Press brought out The Whole of Life (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), so that should tell you something .....
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced that Thomas Pynchon has been awarded the inaugural biennial US$100,000 Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award, "which recognizes a writer of distinction who has made a significant contribution to American literature".
They've also announced their (other) literature award winners -- eight 'Arts and Letters Awards in Literature'-winners, and the winners of seven other awards.
I missed this when they announced it a couple of weeks ago, but Irish/Gaelic-writing Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill has been named the winner of this year's Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award (which she'll pick up on 10 May).
The award recognizes: "outstanding artistic and intellectual literary achievements on the world stage which have a bearing on the world of values towards which Zbigniew Herbert's work gravitated", and previous winners include Breyten Breytenbach (2017), Lars Gustafsson (2016), and W.S.Merwin (the inaugural prize, in 2013).
See also, for example, her bilingual collection Selected Poems: Rogha Dánta; see the New Island publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Wellcome Book Prize -- open to works of fiction and non that: "have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness".
The winner will be announced 30 April; none of the shortlisted titles are under review at the complete review (and I don't expect any to be before then, either).
One of last year's big IPOs was that of China Literature Limited, the online behemoth, and they've just released their annual results [(dreaded) pdf; (identical) PR newswire release)].
While the stock has under-performed (it closed yesterday at 82.05, still below the opening 90.05 last November, and far off the closing high of 104 (9 November, in the early euphoria)).
With 6.9 million writers on the platform, they certainly are huge -- and looking to expand with Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions.
The money isn't insignificant, either: US$523.5 million of online reading revenue (!) in 2017 (though revenue from 'physical books and others' were down about 10 per cent from the previous year ...).
They've announced the longlists for the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature -- though these are more less the finalists, three each in the poetry and fiction categories (with: "an unprecedented decision to name no titles to the longlist" in the non-fiction category).
Impressively -- if also a bit worryingly -- all three fiction finalists were published by Peepal Tree Press (as was one of the poetry finalists ...).
The category winners will be announced 2 April, the overall winner on 28 April.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of In Koli Jean Bofane's novel, Congo Inc.: Bismarck's Testament, just out in English from Indiana University Press in their Global African Voices-series.
It includes a small Laure Adler-cmaeo -- she of, for example, the Q & A volume with George Steiner, A Long Saturday.
With Dag Solstad's T Singer and Armand V coming out soon in English translation, both in the US and UK, it's good to see some prominent early attention, such as Adam Dalva's Q & A in Publishers Weekly, The Process of No Process: PW Talks with Dag Solstad.
Good also to see the first English-language reviews, at PW and Kirkus Reviews -- the latter summing up in the review of T Singer:
Knut Hamsun remains the king of Nordic gloom, but Solstad gives him a run for the money in a story at once traditional and postmodern.
David Albahari turned seventy last week, and in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Andreas Breitenstein has a (German) Q & A with him.
Albahari is reasonably well represented in English translation, but certainly deserves more attention.
Several of his titles are under review at the complete review:
I'm completely digital. I barely read on hard copy any more.
I can't recall many writers who have made that transition; it's far more common to hear them clinging to paper/print.
(And it's amusing to see that as far as writing goes he thinks: "writing on computers is a bit of disaster" and instead relies on a manual typewriter .....)
Also good to hear:
For pleasure, Iím rereading Paul Theroux, who I think is a vastly underrated writer.
(Ten of Theroux's books are under review at the complete review, most recently Mother Land.
A few by Self are also under review, though nothing recent; see, for example, Dorian.)
At the Asymptote weblog José García Escobar has a Q & A In Conversation with Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, and while they may be setting the bar a bit too high with the claim: "Sergio is arguably the most important Central American writer today", he certainly is a very good and important author -- and woefully under-appreciated in the English-speaking world.
Several of his works are under review at the complete review:
GFK now report on the numbers, in France in 2017 -- and find that book sales were down 1 per cent by volume and 1.2 per cent by sales.
They also found that 28,6 million French(wo)men were book-buyers -- a disappointing/shameful only-52-per-cent of the 10+ population.
But at least the average book buyer purchased almost 11 books a year.
Note, however, that the most popular title counted was, as reported, for example, in Les Echos, Astérix et la Transitalique, with 1.6 million copies sold .....
The Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair is the big German spring book prize (with the German Book Prize the big(ger) one in the fall) -- and is actually three prizes, awarding one for a work of fiction, one for non, and one for best translation.
They've now announced this year's prize winners, with Esther Kinsky's Hain. Geländeroman winning the fiction prize; see also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page -- and note that English-language rights have been bought by Fitzcarraldo, who recently brought out her River; see their publicity page.
Sabine Stöhr and Juri Durkot's translation of Serhiy Zhadan's Інтернат was named the best translation; see the Suhrkamp foreign rights page.
Ukrainian author Zhadan's Voroshilovgrad is available in English -- and Mesopotamia is due out shortly from Yale University Press, in their Margellos World Republic of Letters-series; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
(Meanwhile, his Depeche Modeis also under review at the complete review.)
There are also five finalist in the non-fiction category -- including the book that towers over all these, The Years, by Annie Ernaux, in Alison L. Strayer's translation.
The winners will be announced in May.
The (American) National Book Awards are now open for submissions (through 29 June), and they've also revealed who will be judging each of the five categories.
After some three decades, there's a prize for Translated Literature again (though this time: only by living authors ...), and the five judges for that category are: Harold Augenbraum (chair), Karen Maeda Allman, Sinan Antoon, Susan Bernofsky, and Álvaro Enrigue.
The longlists will be announced in mid-September.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Agnes Ravatn's The Bird Tribunal -- yet another Norwegian novel.
Orenda Books brought this out, and while they couldn't get much press coverage, they did wrangle a very impressive number of weblog-reviews for it.
They've announced the shortlists for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards, which includes a variety of interesting categories -- including, notably, the Literary Translation Initiative Award.
This year's finalists for that one are a fine trio:
The Lontar Foundation promotes: "Indonesian literature and culture through the translation of Indonesian literary works" -- and several of their works are under review at the complete review -- while Serbian publisher Geopoetika also publishes some titles in English translation (some of which have also since been picked up/(re)published by US/UK publishers).
They've announced the longlist for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize (for works of fiction in translation by living authors, published in the UK), and the thirteen tiles, selected from 108 entries, are:
Die, My Love, by Ariana Harwicz; tr. Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff
The Dinner Guest, by Gabriela Ybarra; tr. Natasha Wimmer
Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk; tr. Jennifer Croft
The Flying Mountain, by Christoph Ransmayr; tr. Simon Pare
Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi; tr. Jonathan Wright
Go, Went, Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck; tr. Susan Bernofsky
The Stolen Bicycle, by Wu Ming-Yi; tr. Darryl Sterk
Vernon Subutex 1, by Virginie Despentes; tr. Frank Wynne
The White Book, by Han Kang; tr. Deborah Smith
The World Goes On, by Krasznahorkai László; tr. John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet, and George Szirtes
Only books published in the UK are eligible, and I'm a bit surprised by how many are not (yet ?) available in the US -- aside from the two I've reviewed, I believe only the Saadawi, Erpenbeck, and Krasznahorkai (and possibly the Tokarczuk ?) are out in the US at this time (which is kind of frustrating)
Among the interesting odds and ends about this year's (semi-)finalists: translator Frank Wynne is not only nominated for two different translations, but these are from two different languages, which is pretty impressive.
And The Flying Mountain is the first novel-in-verse I've seen on one of these major translation-awards list -- something I've long been waiting for (and now I can keep my fingers crossed that it will be the first book that is nominated for the Best Translated Book Award in both the fiction and poetry categories -- though I'll have to wait a year, since it is only eligible for next year's BTBA).
(I have the German original of this, but will probably wait until I get the English translation (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) to post a review; it does have a great opening verse: (in my translation) "I died / 6840 meters above sea level / on the fourth of May in the year of the horse.")
I would also like to reïterate my continuing annoyance at this, and most English-language prizes refusing to reveal what books were actually considered for the prize -- all they tell us is that 108 were.
The Man Booker International Prize is already a confusing one because instead of being a calendar-year prize -- that would apparently be much too simple and straightforward -- "titles eligible for submission must be published between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018".
Just to show how difficult it is to try to figure out what might have been submitted, the Goodreads list of Man Booker International Prize: Eligible Books 2018, with numerous contributors working on it, could (to date) only come up with 80 titles -- which are actually no more than 75 (the Cercas and Binet are listed twice; ineligible (because dead) authors include Antonio Tabucchi, Pascal Garnier, and Michel Déon ), and while all the books that made the longlist are listed here, at least 33 titles that were considered aren't.
The shortlist (of six books) will be announced 12 April; the winning title, 22 May.
With almost every posthumous publication and/or revelation of testamentary wishes (and demands) there's a debate about whether or not the right thing was (or will be) done -- especially when the wishes/demands involve the destruction of unpublished work, stuff that's then gone for good (or bad ...).
Max Brod's refusal to follow Kafka's explicit instructions about the disposition of his work is probably the most famous (and debated) instance, but hardly the first or only, and recent cases include Terry Pratchett's (see, for example, Stuart Kelly writing about Pratchett, Kafka, Virgil: Difficult final demands at the TLS site) or Edward Albee's left-over instructions (see, for example, Michael Paulson on Edward Albee's Final Wish: Destroy My Unfinished Work in The New York Times).
Blake Morrison has now written a novel in which this question is central, The Executor --see the Chatto & Windus publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and in The Guardian he writes at some length on the subject, in Up in smoke: should an author's dying wishes be obeyed ?.
This is a subject (and legal/moral dilemma) of particular interest to me -- hey, I was writing about it in Poets & Writers fifteen years ago ...), and I've been meaning to respond to the most significant recent contribution to the literature: Eva E. Subotnik's fascinating Washington Law Review-piece, Artistic Control After Death (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) (since, of course, I disagree ... largely, let's say, with her (oversimplified:) screw-the-author's wishes conclusion ("federal copyright policy should weigh in favor of access to, use of, and preservation of works for the benefit of the living", etc.) ...).
I still haven't found the time to give it the proper attention -- but do have a look.
It remains a fascinating issue.
None of his work is under review at the complete review -- I've read quite a bit by him, but it's been a very long time since I picked anything of his up ... -- but his work is definitely worth a look; see what Faber & Faber has to offer; The Guyana Quartet is perhaps the obvious starting point; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) report that 2017 -- A Record Year for Norwegian Literature Abroad.
This covers only books that received translation support from NORLA -- but that pretty much covers everything, the occasional crime writer excepted (yes, even the Karl Ove Knausgaard books gets translation-subsidies).
And the numbers are pretty good: 538 books by Norwegian authors, translated into 44 languages -- of which adult fiction was just under half (259 titles).
It's certainly up a lot from 2004 -- when 107 titles got grants -- but that's presumably in some part also because of more grant- and infrastructure investment: in 2007 there were already 307, and the increase last year isn't that much from the 499 in 2016.
The preparations for Norway being 'guest of honour' at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair also help explain the recent push and success -- and it's also no surprise that German is the language in which the most translations have been made -- 52 books that received translation-support.
Embarrassingly, translations into English are only the third-highest contingent -- behind ... Danish, too.
They held the Puterbaugh Festival the past few days (yeah, sorry about the late mention ...), with Visitation-author Jenny Erpenbeck featured as the 2018 Puterbaugh Fellow.
In OU Daily Sam Tonkins has a Q & A with her.
In Entertainment Weekly David Canfield has a Q & A with Jhumpa Lahiri, about her most recent Domenico Starnone-translation -- after Ties she's now translated Trick; see the Europa Editions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; I have a copy and should be getting to it soon.
She's certainly a fan:
I think Domenico is the finest Italian living writer; I really feel there's no one writing fiction as fine, as interesting, as beautiful, as powerful.
Unlike America, in Korea the shame-based initiative began in literary circles, not in the film industry
Among the observations:
Those who are familiar with the literary world say violent language and eccentric behavior have long been part of literary circles.
A decadent lifestyle has long been the dominant culture of literary circles, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Literary people considered those who were bound by social norms and ethics "chicken" and for them crossing the line or going too far verbally was something akin to being chic or sophisticated.
It'll be interesting to see whether there will be any trickle-down effect of this to the publication and reception of South Korean literature abroad.
Patrick Grainville was elected to the Académie française, on the first vote, and takes over fauteuil 9.
The (1976) prix Goncourt-winning author is surprisingly under-translated into English -- The Cave of Heaven, first published by Dalkey Archive Press more than a quarter of a century ago, appears to be the lone translated novel; see their 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 Iosi Havilio's short novel, Petite Fleur, recently out from And Other Stories.
This is one of those almost impossible to review books -- because any proper discussion would necessarily reveal too much .....
It is also one of the unusual books that, in its English translation, is published with a foreign title -- but where the foreign title is different from, and in a different language than the original title (here: Pequeña flor).
Another example is Carlo Lucarelli's Carta bianca, published in English as: Carte Blanche.
As widely noted, they've announced this year's eight recipients of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, each of whom will get: "a $165,000 USD prize to support their writing".
John Keene and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi are the fiction winners, Sarah Bakewell and Olivia Laing the non-fiction winners, Lucas Hnath and Suzan-Lori Parks the dramatists, and Lorna Goodison and Cathy Park Hong the poets.
The Stella Prize -- for which both fiction and non by female Australian authors are eligible -- has announced its 2018 shortlist.
One of the books is actually a novel in translation: Iranian-born Shokoofeh Azar's The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is translated from the Persian -- though you'd hardly know it from how translator Adrien Kijek's name and role are buried: he does get a brief mention in the 'Judges' report' at the prize page for the book, but there's no mention of him on publisher Wild Dingo Press' publicity page (or, indeed, the entire site), or in many of the reviews.
The winner will be announced 12 April.
At Qantara.de Tom Stevenson and Murat Bayram report that: 'Kawa Nemir has just finished translating James Joyce's masterpiece of Irish literature into the Kurdish Kurmanji dialect', in Across snotgrean seas.
Nemir admits: "It was frankly very difficult".
Leading Nepali author Indra Bahadur Rai has passed away; see, for example, the report in The Kathmandu Post.
His There's a Carnival Today came out in an English translation by Manjushree Thapa just a few months ago; see the Speaking Tiger Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I have a(n e-)copy, and have been meaning to get to it.
They've announced the finalists for the first EBRD Literature Prize, the odd prize: "meant to recognise and promote the extraordinary richness, depth and variety of culture and history in the countries in which the Bank invests".
The finalists are:
All the World's a Stage, by Boris Akunin, translated by Andrew Bromfield
Belladonna, by Daša Drndić, translated by Celia Hawkesworth
Istanbul Istanbul, by Burhan Sönmez, translated by Ümit Hussein
They've announced the shortlist for one of the leading (and, at €50,000, richest) Dutch fiction prizes, the Libris Literatuur Prijs.
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer and Tommy Wieringa -- both of whom have previously won the prize, and both of whom have had work translated into English -- both still have books in the running.
The winning title will be announced 7 May.
This is another volume in Pushkin Press' nice little contemporary Japanese series.
It is also yet another volume which includes an Akutagawa Prize-winning story (the title piece, in this case); I have so many under review now that I've added an Akutagawa-listing to the prize-index .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Victor Martinovich's Мова.
The Belarusian author wrote this in Belarusian -- though he's also published works in Russian (there is a difference), including the one earlier novel that has been translated into English, Paranoia, which Northwestern University Press brought out (and which got mentions both in The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books ...).
Project Gutenberg, a leading repository of free e-books, has found itself compelled to block access to (all) German readers, as a result of a 9 February court judgment in favor of plaintiffs S.Fischer in a lawsuit filed a couple of years ago; see the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation information-page on the situation.
S.Fischer complained about the availability of eighteen specific texts -- by Thomas and Heinrich Mann, and Alfred Döblin -- which PGLAF maintains are no longer under copyright protection in the US (though they are in Germany).
An interesting clash-of-copyright-laws (and internet access) case.
I also note that several of these works apparently still are available to German internet-users at the Internet Archive.
Leading expatriate Czech author Ota Filip has passed away; see, for example, the (German) dpa report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
He lived in Germany since the early 1970s; surprisingly, none of his work appears to have been translated into English (the dissident market saturated by Kundera/Kohout/Havel/Škvorecký/Vaculík/Klíma/etc. ?).
Library borrowing statistics are always interesting to see, and in the Boston Globe Laura Crimaldi looks at the category of books that most often go missing from the Boston Public Library collection, in These are the BPL's most-lost books.
Obviously, only books they have a lot of copies of can go missing a lot; still fun to see -- though that cover-icon graphic for each book may be a bit more than necessary (or do people really need to visualize these things nowadays ? are numbers alone too abstract ?).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Upendranath Ashk's Falling Walls.
Great to be able to cover this 1947 Hindi novel, out from Penguin India in English translation in 2015 -- but, alas, it's not so readily available in the US/UK (i.e. it was only published in India ...).
Translator Daisy Rockwell has completed the second volume of this multi-volume epic (six completed, and an unfinished seventh), and perhaps when the second, or more, are out an American outlet will pick it up .....