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24 April 2017 - Monday

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Q & A | Three Envelopes review

       Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Nanda Dyssou has An Interview with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
       Among Ngũgĩ's observations:
Getting published is one of the most infuriating challenges of writing in African languages. There are hardly any publishing houses devoted to African languages. So writers in African languages are writing against great odds: no publishing houses, no state support, and with national and international forces aligned against them. Prizes are often given to promote African literature but on the condition that the writers don't write in African languages.

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



       Three Envelopes review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nir Hezroni's recent thriller, Three Envelopes, just out in English.

       For those not interested in the book/review itself, I nevertheless offer the Google/author/editor-fail description noted in my review:
       The US edition does offer an amusing/annoying example of the dangers of relying on (and not fully understanding) some now-basic technology (and basics of how language and translation function).
       Wanting to add a bit of a local flavor and color, there's a scene where a character orders a beer:
     "Ein Glas Weizentrumpf, bitte." Carmit smiled at the bartender and placed a ten-franc note on the countertop. The bartender nodded and poured her drink. He offered her change but she waved it away. "Halten die Änderung." He nodded again and put the coins in the tip jar on the bar.
       What Carmit is supposed to be saying is the simple: 'Keep the change'. That's not what: 'Halten die Änderung' means -- or rather, 'Halten die Änderung' is a very literal (and grammatically not quite correct) word-for-word translation that translates 'keep' as 'hold' and 'change' not as the loose-coin-kind, but rather the alteration sort.
       What happened here ? Hezroni put 'keep the change' through Google Translate -- or rather, he put the Hebrew (equivalent (?)) through.
       If you Google Translate the English 'keep the change' into German you actually get a reasonable result -- 'behalte das Wechselgeld'.
       If you Google Translate the English 'keep the change' into Hebrew, you get 'שמור את העודף' -- and if you Google Translate that into German ... voilà, 'Halten Sie die Änderung'.
       Hezroni apparently felt it was safe to assume the English expression was similar in German -- and that a limited/strictly literal translation, even via a second language, was safe to use. (In Google he trusts !) But while 'behalte das Wechselgeld' is actually even closer, literally, than what he wound up with, his roundabout way of trying to find the right expression confused the terms.
       (Ironically, a simple Google search, for say: 'keep the change German' would have also yielded better results than what he wound up with.)
       What's surprising is that he didn't do any other checks to see if he had gotten it right -- the obvious one being to Google, in quotes: "Halten die Änderung". You don't have to know German to realize from the results that something is off with that particular phrasing/expression.
       Truly shocking, however, is that neither the translator nor the English-language editors bothered to check, or to ask anyone, either. Again: a simple Google search should have alerted everyone that something was not right here.
       But maybe all they cared about was the spelling ?
       Come on, folks -- Google (and Google Translate) is a wonderful tool, but you have to put a little effort into using/getting it right.

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



23 April 2017 - Sunday

Reading in ... Iran | Eduardo Mendoza receives picks up Cervantes Prize
The Snow Kimono review

       Reading in ... Iran

       An interesting piece at the TLS' weblog, as Pardis Mahdavi writes about Iran's literary sexual revolution, focusing on how:
a different genre occupies today’s literary love landscape: the romance novel-cum-self-help book.
       But Mahdavi isn't quite right when she wonders: "why none of these powerful and beautifully written books has made its way outside of Iran". In fact, the first one she mentions, Fattaneh Haj Seyed Javadi's Bamdad-e-Khomar has been published in 'the West' (albeit not yet in English ...) and is even under review at the complete review .....

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



       Eduardo Mendoza receives picks up Cervantes Prize

       The awards ceremony for the Cervantes Prize, the leading Spanish-language author prize, was a couple of days ago, with Eduardo Mendoza (An Englishman in Madrid, etc.) finally able to pick up his prize; see, for example, the Deutsche Welle report.
       His acceptance speech is now up (in Spanish), too.

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



       The Snow Kimono review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mark Henshaw's The Snow Kimono.

       This is one of those rejected-then-acclaimed works -- Rejected 32 times, The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw wins NSW Premier's Literary Award, Susan Wyndham reported in the Sydney Morning Herald -- a second novel (more or less -- there was some co-written stuff in between) more than a quarter of a century after the author's debut. But it doesn't seem to have really taken off or made that much of an impact outside Australia.

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



22 April 2017 - Saturday

European Union Prize for Literature | Cullman Center fellows

       European Union Prize for Literature

       They've announced the 'winners' of this year's European Union Prize for Literature -- the very peculiar EU 'prize' that rotates through all the member states, twelve or thirteen each year (including, for the last time ever this year, the brexiting United Kingdom).
       Alas, it is not Europeanly decided, but rather the winners are named by national juries -- admittedly better-positioned, at least language-wise, to assess the local talent, but coming with a host of other problems and baggage. (See the prize jury lists (warning ! dreaded pdf format ! -- and surely it tells you everything that they can make the official winners-announcement readily internet-accessible but offer this only in the ridiculous pdf format ...): my favorite is the Maltese jury, consisting of three 'Dr.'s (i.e. PhDs), a 'Prof.' and a 'Fr.')
       I don't doubt that there are some fine authors and works here; I do doubt that this is a good way of doing ... anything.

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



       Cullman Center fellows

       The New York Public Library has announced the fifteen fellows (selected from 357 applicants from 38 countries) who will be Cullman Center Fellows from September 2017 through May 2018.
       Among them are The Physics of Sorrow-author Georgi Gospodinov, who will be working on a (so far untitled) "novel about the childhood fears of different generations", and Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism-author Joan Acocella, who is working on a biography of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

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



21 April 2017 - Friday

Man Booker International Prize shortlist | César Aira Q & A
The Life of Harishchandra review

       Man Booker International Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, and the six remaining titles are:
  • Compass by Mathias Énard, tr. Charlotte Mandell
  • Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, tr. Megan McDowell
  • A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman, tr. Jessica Cohen
  • Judas by Amos Oz, tr. Nicholas de Lange
  • Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors, tr. Misha Hoekstra
  • The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen, tr. Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
       The winner will be announced on 14 June.

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



       César Aira Q & A

       I recently reviewed César Aira's The Little Buddhist Monk and The Proof, and in The Skinny Alan Bett now has a Q & A with the author.
       Among Aira's observations:
I have a provocative (but sincere) definition for my books: ‘Dadaist fairy tales’. I recently found a much better one: ‘Literary Toys for Adults’.
       Sound about right.

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



       The Life of Harishchandra review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Raghavanka's The Life of Harishchandra, another volume in Harvard University Press' Murty Classical Library of India series.

       With the NYRB re-issue of U.R.Ananthamurthy's Samskara and the recent US and UK publication of Vivek Shanbhag's Ghachar Ghochar Kannada literature has already done pretty well in 2017 -- and this classical work shows yet another facet .....
       It also offers at least one frame-worthy quote:

Raghavanka quote

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



20 April 2017 - Thursday

Stella Prize | Ketabook profile | Libraries in ... Bangkok

       Stella Prize

       The A$50,000 Stella Prize, awarded for a work -- fiction or non -- written by a woman, has announced that the 2017 prize goes to The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose's novel inspired by Marina Abramović's The Artist Is Present exhibit/performance piece.
       Showing yet again that it's not just fiction in translation that doesn't have it easy getting a foothold in the US/UK, but rather anything foreign, The Museum of Modern Love has apparently not yet been published in either the US or the UK; the Kindle edition seems the best Amazon.com can offer ..... But see, for example, the Allen & Unwin publicity page.
       Nice also to see the official prize site post Heather Rose's Stella Prize acceptance speech.

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



       Ketabook profile

       Via I'm pointed to Ursula Lindsey's profile of Ketabook and the man behind it, Mohamed El Mansour, at Al-Fanar Media, Moroccan Academic Plays Matchmaker Between Books and Readers.
       Showing yet again that 'publishing' by itself isn't enough -- people have to know the books exist, and have the possibility of finding them .....

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



       Libraries in ... Bangkok

       With the fancy new Bangkok City Library already accessible (though officially only opening 28 April), Melalin Mahavongtrakul takes a look around there and compares it to some of the 36 other public libraries in Bangkok, in Shelf improvement, in the Bangkok Post.
       Plans to keep it open 24 hours a day have apparently been shelved -- cut back to less than half that, in fact. And apparently they could use some more books ("What they seem to have more of right now are spots for people to lounge around", one visitor observes) -- and they're hoping for (a lot of ...): "donated books from private companies and the public".
       (Rather shockingly, the library also does not appear to have its own website -- though it does have a 'Facebook'-page (and yet again I find myself baffled how anyone can possibly use that atrocity of a site).)

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



19 April 2017 - Wednesday

Best Translated Book Award shortlists
New issue of Asymptote | César Aira reviews

       Best Translated Book Award shortlists

       They've now announced the fiction finalists for the (American) Best Translated Book Award -- ten titles still in the running. (They announced the five poetry finalists too.)
       The most notable missing title is, of course, John E. Woods' translation of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream, though since that wasn't on the longlist ... kind of saw that coming. Still: no excuse. It's the translation of the year, anyway you cut it, look at it, whatever.
       The ten also-rans remaining are:
  • Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña Paris, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)

  • Chronicle of the Murdered House by Lúcio Cardoso, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson (Brazil, Open Letter Books)

  • Doomi Golo by Boubacar Boris Diop, translated from the Wolof and French by Vera Wülfing-Leckie and El Hadji Moustapha Diop (Senegal, Michigan State University Press)

  • Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman (Mauritius, Deep Vellum)

  • Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (France, Knopf)

  • Oblivion by Sergi Lebedev, translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis (Russia, New Vessel Press)

  • Umami by Laia Jufresa, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (Mexico, Oneworld)

  • War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans, translated from the Dutch by David McKay (Belgium, Pantheon)

  • Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya, translated from the Spanish by Jessica Powell (Dominican Republic, Mandel Vilar Press)

  • Zama by Antonio di Benedetto, translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Argentina, New York Review Books)
       Lots of fairly new voices -- we haven't seen most of these authors in English before -- and a good mix of publishers (though big translation guns AmazonCrossing, Dalkey Archive Press, Seagull, and New Directions all aren't represented by any titles).
       The winners will be announced 4 May.

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



       New issue of Asymptote

       The April issue of Asymptote is now available online, themed: 'People from the In-Between' and with a 'Special Feature on Literature from Banned Countries' (as in: those countries whose citizens American president Trump has repeatedly tried to ban from traveling to the US).
       Lots of great content -- including Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (The Colonel, etc.) on his own aborted recent (non-)trips to the US, The Trip That Did Not Happen.

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



       César Aira reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two short César Aira novels -- forthcoming in a single volume in the US (from New Directions) and just out in the UK in separate volumes (from And Other Stories):
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



18 April 2017 - Tuesday

Translation prize finalists | Taban lo Liyong Q & A

       Translation prize finalists

       The big(ger) translation prize shortlists are coming up later this week -- the American Best Translated Book Prize today, the Man Booker International Prize on Thursday -- but we have a few single-language ones to tide us over:

        - They've announced the three-title shortlist for the US$10,000 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, for translations from the German, published in the US.
       Shockingly, however, it appears that John E. Woods' otherwise eligible translation of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream, was not submitted, and hence not considered, even though ... well, this should sweep all the translation prizes, from here to kingdom come, but certainly a translated-from-the German prize like this one.

        - They've announced the three-title shortlist for the also US$10,000 Albertine Prize, for translations from the French, published in the US.
       Less shockingly, Bottom's Dream was also not a finalist for this prize -- though since it wasn't technically eligible they at least have a(n almost) reasonable excuse.
       One of the shortlisted titles -- Sam Taylor's translation of Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart (published in the UK as Mend the Living) is under review at the complete review.
       This is also a prize where you can vote for the winner -- you have until 30 April to cast your vote.

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



       Taban lo Liyong Q & A

       At the Daily Monitor Emmanuel Mukanga considers African literature through the eyes of Taban lo Liyong, interviewing one of the grand old men of (East) African literature.
       He's unimpressed with how African literature has(n't) developed since Okot p'Biteks's Song of Lawino (which Taban also translated):
Young writers are writing mostly about problems of growing up and criticising mothers-in-law.
       And the problem of an underdeveloped reading culture is addressed -- in the pointed question:
It is said that if you want to hide something from a Ugandan, write a book. How can we develop a reading culture ?
       Several of Taban's books are under review at the complete review, including Another Last Word.

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



17 April 2017 - Monday

Krleža's Zastave (in German) | Vietnamese literature in English | Attentat review

       Krleža's Zastave (in German)

       Several of Croatian author Miroslav Krleža's (1893-1981) works have been translated into English; The Banquet in Blitva is the only one under review at the complete review, but there's also, for example, On the Edge of Reason (see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). His one great post-World War II work -- the multi-volume epic of the early twentieth century, Zastave --, however, hasn't.
       There is, however, now a five-volume German translation -- as Die Fahnen -- from Wieser Verlag; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.de. In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Jörg Plath just reviewed it -- and suggests yet again that it is a European classic.
       If tiny Wieser Verlag can translate it, surely some US/UK publisher could have a go at it too, no ? (I know, I know: no.)

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



       Vietnamese literature in English

       At VnExpress International Quynh Trang asked Wayne Karlin and Hoang Hung to recommend The best 15 English titles you should read, a decent starter list.

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



       Attentat review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's (not yet translated into English) novel, Attentat.

       With this 1997 novel I have now reviewed all of Nothomb's annual offerings from 1992 through 2007, and I have now gathered the few missing pieces through 2015, so maybe I'll be (almost) up-to-date with her output by the end of the year. For now, the 21 Nothomb-reviews at the site still lag behind the 24 Naguib Mahfouz titles under review -- but not by much.

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



16 April 2017 - Sunday

AmazonCrossing profile | Slight Exaggeration review

       AmazonCrossing profile

       AmazonCrossing is the Amazon imprint, launched in 2010, that publishes fiction in translation -- and it has quickly become the leading US publisher of fiction in translation (numbers-wise), usually of the popular-fiction kind disdained by the independents that otherwise dominate the (very strange) field.
       In The Seattle Times Ángel González now offers a nice overview/profile, in Amazon expands its literary horizons, making big imprint in translation niche.
       The AmazonCrossing titles are a very mixed (and heavily-skewed-towards-the schlock) bag, but there is some very good stuff here too; quite a few titles are under review at the complete review, and some of the upcoming ones certainly look of interest -- including the soon-to-be released one Gabriella Page-Fort is show-casing in the article photograph, The Gray House (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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



       Slight Exaggeration review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Adam Zagajewski's new book, Slight Exaggeration, just out, quietly, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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



15 April 2017 - Saturday

Translator Q & As | The Awkward Squad review

       Translator Q & As

       At his Conversational Reading weblog Scott Esposito has a nice one-two punch of translator interviews: Nine Questions for Emma Ramadan on Anne Garréta, Sphinx, and Not One Day and then 7 Questions for Charlotte Mandell on Compass by Mathias Énard.

       Two of three of these are under review at the complete review: Sphinx and Compass -- and I should get to Not One Day sooner rather than later.

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



       The Awkward Squad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sophie Hénaff's The Awkward Squad, just (about) out in the UK (though it doesn't look like there's a US publisher yet).

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



14 April 2017 - Friday

Claudio Magris Q & A | 'What India's bestselling writers read'
Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize

       Claudio Magris Q & A

       Claudio Magris' Blameless is just out from Yale University Press -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk --; I have a copy and hope to get to it soon.
       Meanwhile, at the Yale University Press weblog they now have Writing as Witness: A Conversation with Claudio Magris, with translator Anne Milano Appel.

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



       'What India's bestselling writers read'

       At Scroll.in Devapriya Roy asked eight bestselling fiction writers ("seven of whom responded") What India's bestselling writers read when they read literary fiction -- always a fun exercise.

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



       Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize

       The Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize -- a $10,000 prize for: "an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA" -- will announce its shortlist next week (against tough competition: both the (US) Best Translated Book Award and the (UK) Man Booker International Prize are announcing their shortlists as well, on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively).
       Among the admirable aspects of this prize is that they publish a list of all the titles that have been submitted -- i.e. what's being considered (which the Man Booker International Prize (and the Man Booker, and the Pulitzer, and the (US) National Book Awards, and so on) does not, and they've now apparently listed this year's thirty contenders.
       Yes, some big names are missing due to the rule they've slipped in this time -- "Translators awarded the prize in the last seven years are disqualified from consideration this year" -- but that doesn't explain the biggest omission. Yes, you know what's coming: it's yet another translation-prize that apparently isn't considering the biggest translation of the year (decade, etc.): John E. Woods' of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream.
       Unlike the Best Translated Book Award -- where they apparently considered it, but didn't think it belonged in the top 25 -- the sure-fire winner apparently wasn't submitted by Dalkey Archive Press for this one. (Indeed, there are no Dalkey books listed among the submissions, even though Dalkey titles have won this prize as recently as 2011 and 2012, and they published several other eligible titles in 2016.)
       We're slowly running out of translation prizes this thing can win -- absurd, given its significance (it should be winning them all !).

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



13 April 2017 - Thursday

Bosphorus Review of Books | Steven Moore book
Devils in Daylight review

       Bosphorus Review of Books

       The Bosphorus Review of Books is a relatively new online publication, and in Daily Sabah Leyla Yvonne Ergil profiles Turkey's first English language online literary magazine.

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



       Steven Moore book

       Steven Moore's massive The Novel: An Alternative History - Beginnings to 1600 (see the Bloomsbury publicity page) and The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800 (see the Bloomsbury publicity page) is an impressive and enjoyable undertaking (which I hope to eventually cover ...) -- but regrettably now comes word from Moore that: "I didn't have the energy to write the huge concluding volume on modern fiction that I intended".
       As a stand-in he has now published My Back Pages (see the Zerogram publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). While I'm not sure about that cover, it does sound intriguing -- but still: not quite a substitute for the longed-for modern-novel overview !

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



       Devils in Daylight review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Devils in Daylight, a slim 1918 work now just (about) out from New Directions in English.

       A reminder of how much (worthwhile) Tanizaki still isn't available in English (a whole lot) -- and what we're missing.

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



12 April 2017 - Wednesday

Korean literature abroad | Author Q & As: Osama Alomar - Sergei Lebedev
The Reconstruction review

       Korean literature abroad

       In The Korea Times Kwon Mee-yoo profiles PEN International Korean Center president Sohn Hae-il, in Translated works need wider publicity.
       He certainly is optimistic:
Sohn believes that Korean literature is the next hallyu.

"Korean literature will become popular worldwide just like K-pop someday. As Korean culture gains popularity across the globe, more and more people are interested in learning the Korean language to understand the lyrics of K-pop and the words of Korean television dramas," Sohn said. "Korean literature should reach a wider audience, but the lack of quality translation has prevented Korean literature from resonating with readers in other languages."
       Yeah .....
       Interesting, too, that:
He also plans to establish a translation institute under the Korean Center to translate more Korean literature into English.
       First off: note that there's already that Literature Translation Institute of Korea -- so presumably he thinks they're not ... doing all they could be.
       Second: 'into English' ? Yes, yes, English is the most important connecting-language, but let's face it, translation-enthusiasm among readers remains ... tepid. Readers in other languages are often more receptive, and even if English is the priority, forgetting about those would be a big mistake.

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



       Author Q & A: Osama Alomar

       Osama Alomar's story collection, The Teeth of the Comb, is due out shortly from New Directions -- see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and at Sampsonia Way Caitlyn Christensen has a Q & A with the Syrian (but now living in the US) author.
       I should be getting to his collection soon.

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



       Author Q & A: Sergei Lebedev

       At her weblog, The Book Binder's Daughter, Melissa Beck has a Q & A, A Soviet Titanomachy: My Interview with Russian Author Sergei Lebedev.
       New Vessel has brought out two of his books, and he is certainly a significant contemporary Russian author -- but I still haven't really come to terms with the autobiographical spin in his work. (Don't 'write-what-you-know', authors ! Don't ! Anything but, if it were up to me .....)

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



       The Reconstruction review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Estonian author Rein Raud's The Reconstruction, just (about) out from Dalkey Archive Press.

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



11 April 2017 - Tuesday

International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist
Pulitzer Prizes | Pitching Hungarian literature

       International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's International DUBLIN Literary Award -- ten novels, of which six are translations (including, impressively, two African titles translated from the Portuguese):
  • Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto
  • A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa
  • The Green Road by Anne Enrigh
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
  • A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
  • A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
       These were selected from the 147-title-strong longlist -- and, as you can see, quite a few big-name/prominent titles/authors were left in the dust.
       See also Eileen Battersby's commentary (ignore the stupid and embarrassing nationalistic headline) in the Irish Times, as she never has trouble playing favorites -- and criticizing the (to her) unworthy, including the novel she calls: "a masterclass in clunky bathos".

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



       Pulitzer Prizes

       They've announced this year's Pulitzer Prizes -- which are now worth $15,000 a shot, up from the longtime $10,000 -- with Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad an anything-but-surprise winner in the fiction category (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), beating out the two other finalists, Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett and The Sport of Kings by C.E.Morgan
       I was a bit surprised that The Return, by Hisham Matar could win the Biography/Autobiography-category -- I didn't think he was eligible (the Pulitzer letters awards -- save History -- are passport awards: gotta be American), but, hey, jus soli applies: Matar is (somewhat surprisingly) US-born, and apparently has kept up his citizenship.
       The Criticism prize went to Hilton Als -- and no literary critic was among the finalists. Indeed, as best I can tell, the last time a literary critic of any sort won the Pulitzer was way back in 2001, when Gail Caldwell won it.

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



       Pitching Hungarian literature

       At hlo Dóra Szekeres has a Q & A with Magvető's foreign rights director about her book fair experiences, Ágnes Orzóy: We must (and do) believe in our writers.

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



10 April 2017 - Monday

'Cómo develar los misterios de la ficción'
The Disappearance of Signora Giulia review

       'Cómo develar los misterios de la ficción'

       In La Nacion Andrés Hax considers Cómo develar los misterios de la ficción, looking at some ways of looking at the world of (world) fiction, comparing a recent translation of James Wood's How Fiction Works and ... yours truly's The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (out almost exactly a year now ! you've got your copy, right ? (if not: Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, etc.) and the larger complete review-project.

       (I particularly enjoy being pitted against Wood: while I do always find his criticism of some interest, by and large I also find it baffling; there's little to it that corresponds to my reading, or ways of reading. Predictably, the only Wood book under review at the complete review is his novel-attempt, The Book Against God.)

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       The Disappearance of Signora Giulia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Piero Chiara's The Disappearance of Signora Giulia, one of the earlier Pushkin Vertigo volumes that I've just caught up with.

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



9 April 2017 - Sunday

Magnesia Litera 2017 | Endgame review

       Magnesia Litera 2017

       The winners of the big Czech literary prize(s), the Magnesia Litera, were announced a few days ago, with the novel Jezero, by Bianca Bellová, winning book of the year; see also the information page at Czech Lit, or the (Czech) Host publicity page. It is cheerfully described in the Prague Daily Monitor report as: "a post-apocalyptic parable of environmental destruction followed by the destruction of human relations and individual souls", so that sounds fun.
       In fact, all the winners sound real ... upbeat: 'best Czech prose of the year' went to a novel about: "immigrants who come Europe to seek a better life and lose their illusions", the journalism category was won by a book: "focused on everyday life in the district of the Brno city called Bronx, inhabited by Romanies and poor people in general", while 'the prize for the discovery of the year' went to an autor: "presenting his own experience from hospitals and hospices and from his conversations with the dying and their close relatives".
       Still, the prize seems to be very successful: in a preview article at Radio Praha David Vaughan has a Q & A with 'Magnesia Litera's media-savvy founder, Pavel Mandys', about Milking the Magnesia Litera Awards to the Maximum.

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       Endgame review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Turkish author Ahmet Altan's novel, Endgame.

       An English translation came out from Canongate in the UK in 2015, and now Europa Editions are having a go at it with a new US edition.

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8 April 2017 - Saturday

Poetry in ... South Korea | Guggenheim Fellowships

       Poetry in ... South Korea

       In The Korea Herald Joel Lee talks with Literature Translation Institute of Korea-president Kim Seong-kon about their push to get South Korean poetry better known abroad, in 'Korean poems delight global sense and sensibility' -- as also the current issue of Modern Poetry in Translation, The Blue Vein, "focuses on a new wave of Korean poetry".
       Among the (depressing) observations:
One of the key challenges in promoting Korean culture is that the country lacks distinct icons relative to China and Japan, the scholar said. He added such absence renders it difficult for those abroad to differentiate Korea from China and Japan.
       If that's what they're debating ... oh, my.

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



       Guggenheim Fellowships

       They've announced the most recent batch of Guggenheim Fellowships -- 173, "chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants".
       You can find the full list of current fellows here -- and you can click through their names to more information about them and their projects.
       Perhaps of interest: nobody got nothing for translation (same last year, though there were two each in 2015 and 2014), and there are more photography fellowships (or, for example, music composition ones) than fiction ones. Make of that what you will.

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



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