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27 January 2015 - Tuesday

Bestselling paperbacks in Germany, 2014
Libris Literatuur Prijs longlist | Kvachi review

       Bestselling paperbacks in Germany, 2014

       At they look at the top-25 bestselling paperbacks in Germany in 2014 in both fiction and non -- alas only ranked, not with actual sales numbers.
       Translated-from-the-English works dominate both lists, with Jojo Moyes and James Bowen each placing three of the top five titles in their respective categories (fiction, non) -- two authors whose very existence I have only the fuzziest awareness of, and whose books I can not imagine reading.
       Wolfgang Herrndorf's Tschick -- bizarrely transformed into Why We Took the Car in English (see the Arthur A. Levine publicity page, get your copy at or -- is the top-selling domestic novel. And at least a Patrick Modiano slips onto the list, at 24th.
       The top non-fiction title is the legal reference book, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (see the dtv publicity page) -- an almost 1000-pager --, while Florian Illies 1913 enjoyed success even in 2014 (15th), and Anne Frank's diary also made the top 25.

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

       Libris Literatuur Prijs longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Libris Literatuur Prijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes.
       The eighteen-title strong list was selected from the groslijst of eligible titles -- revealing quite a few familiar names who have had work translated into English and whose books didn't make the longlist cut, including: Kader Abdolah, Anna Enquist, Herman Koch, Tessa de Loo, Erwin Mortier, Dimitri Verhulst, and Tommie Wieringa.

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

       Kvachi review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikheil Javakhishvili's early Soviet-era classic, Kvachi, a nice addition to Dalkey Archive Press' Georgian Literature Series (and translated by the leading Georgian-literature authority, Donald Rayfield).

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26 January 2015 - Monday

American book sales by category, 2014 | Swiss franc/Swiss publishers

       American book sales by category, 2014

       In Publishers Weekly Jim Milliot reports on The Hot and Cold Categories of 2014 in the US, looking at the "print book unit sales among adult segments in 2014" ("at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan").
       On the positive side, "Occult/Psychological/Horror" showed the biggest drop among adult fiction categories (-26%). On the other hand, "Graphic Novels" showed the biggest increase (+13%). (That's in 'adult fiction'! Oddly, this isn't even a category in 'juvenile fiction' ....)
       The only other adult fiction category with any plus ? "Western".
       Amusingly, "Religion" was minus 15% in adult fiction -- but plus 12% in adult non-fiction. (No comment.)

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

       Swiss franc/Swiss publishers

       The recent, abrupt pull-back by the Swiss National Bank, allowing the Swiss franc to float freely (and appreciate most dramatically) -- see, for example, Edward Harrison at Foreign Policy on What the Wild Swiss Franc Appreciation Really Means -- has ripple effects far and wide (including in a lot of eastern European countries, where way too many folks somehow got themselves talked into franc-denominated mortgages ...).
       Much of Switzerland's economy is, of course, affected -- including the publishing industry. As Jürg Altwegg reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Schweizer Buchmarkt schwächelt. Local German-language publishers enjoy most of their sales abroad (Diogenes and Kein & Aber: about ninety per cent, he writes), and that suddenly doesn't work out to nearly as much profit domestically. Worse: Swiss book buyers now have even more of an incentive to purchase via Amazon Germany, paying the euro price (and avoiding any import-duty if they don't buy too much at one time) -- a disaster for local booksellers.
       Canada has faced similar issues in recent years, when the loonie was strong, but the current Swiss situation seems considerably more extreme.

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25 January 2015 - Sunday

Russian book trailers | Hakka literature

       Russian book trailers

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines Julia Shevelkina reports that: 'Russian bookstores are using movie style trailers to grab people’s attention and promote interest in reading', in Bringing a touch of Hollywood sparkle to Russian bookstores.
       'Sparkle' may be a bit of an exaggeration, but see for yourself: several examples are on offer.

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

       Hakka literature

       In the Taipei Times Lii Wen reports that Awards celebrate Hakka literature, reporting on the fifth Tung Blossom Literary Awards (桐花文學獎).

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

24 January 2015 - Saturday

Soumission in ... Germany | Sami Rohr Prize finalists | Rubble Flora review

       Soumission in ... Germany

       As I mentioned last week, Michel Houellebecq's Soumission has been a phenomenal success in France.
       It's now come out in Germany -- and its run continues: reports that it easily debuted at number one on the German bestseller lists, that 150,000 copies have sold, and that it is going into its fourth printing (within a week of publication). So, yeah, it's doing reasonably well.
       Meanwhile, the US/UK publishers are ... still getting their act together ? UK publication is slated for the fall, while the Americans seem to have been totally taken by surprise that anyone might be interested in this (his longtime publisher Knopf losing the title to Farrar, Straus & Giroux -- out of indifference ? -- who themselves seem a bit overwhelmed by what they've lucked into).
       If fiction in translation is really being taken more seriously in the US/UK you'd (well, I'd ...) figure they could get a potentially 'hot' title like this out within a reasonable time. (Hey, even the Italian translation is already out. Remember that the next time you make fun of Italy's ridiculous economy and extol the superiority of all business-conducting-ways in the US. Ha.)

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

       Sami Rohr Prize finalists

       They've announced the five finalists for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, the impressively endowed -- the winner gets US$100,000 -- prize for: "a book of literary merit that stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern".
       They alternate between rewarding fiction and non; this year is fortunately a fiction-year. Nevertheless, none of the finalists are under review at the complete review.

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       Rubble Flora review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first English translation of Selected Poems by Volker Braun, Rubble Flora, translated by David Constantine and Karen Leeder and published by Seagull Books.
       As longtime readers know, I've long been a Braun fan -- the first review of a Braun-title went up some fifteen years ago ! -- and I'm currently enjoying the second volume of his work diary, Werktage 1990 - 2008. Here's hoping he finally makes some proper inroads into the English-language markets.

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

23 January 2015 - Friday

DSC Prize for South Asian Literature | Bestselling in France, 2014
ACFNY Translation Prize 2015 | Bonita Avenue review-overview

       DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

       They've announced that The Lowland (by Jhumpa Lahiri) has won the 2015 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
       It's not under review at the complete review, but you can get your copy at or

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

       Bestselling in France, 2014

       They've now tallied the 2014 sales in France and while the official GFK/Livres Hebdo figures aren't freely accessible online they do offer a bit of a summary.
       Valérie Trierweiler's tell-all topped the list as bestselling title, with 603,300 copies sold. The three E.L.James titles all made the top ten, while Guillaume Musso's Central Park came in third (with 556,600 copies sold) and his Demain came in fifth.
       Good to see: fiction dominated, with 39 of the top 50 bestselling titles.
       Meanwhile, Livres Hebdo editor in chief Christine Ferrand explained:
Les lecteurs ont plébiscité en 2014 les feel good books
       Which is one way of putting it, I suppose.

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       ACFNY Translation Prize 2015

       They've announced that Tess Lewis' translation of Maja Haderlap's Engel des Vergessens, 'Angel of Oblivion' has won this year's Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize -- apparently beating out translations of works by Josef Winkler, Clemens Setz, Friederike Mayröcker, Christoph Ransmayr, Walter Kappacher, Raoul Schrott, and others (quite the impressive list). See also, for example, the information about the book at New Books in German.
       The award ceremony -- which author Maja Haderlap will be present for -- is 24 March.

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       Bonita Avenue review-overview

       The most recent addition to the complete review is a review-overview of Peter Buwalda's Bonita Avenue.

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

22 January 2015 - Thursday

French Voices Grand Prize | Edgar® finalists | John Bayley (1925-2015)
Writing in ... Burma | Who's Afraid of Meryl Streep ? review

       French Voices Grand Prize

       Nine titles were selected as grantees for the Fall 2014 session of the French Voices Award -- five fiction and four non-fiction (with a stunning three being published in English by Fordham University Press), and yesterday they announced the Grand Prize Winner -- Pascale-Anne Brault's translation of Barbara Cassin's La Nostalgie, which Fordham University Press will be publishing in English in the spring of 2016.
       Tough competition -- including Fiston Mwanza Mujila's eagerly awaited Tram 83 (coming from Deep Vellum), Dominique Fabre's Guys Like Me (coming from New Vessel Press), and an Andreï Makine and a Chantal Thomas -- but it does sound interesting too.

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

       Edgar® finalists

       They've announced the 2015 Edgar® nominees -- crime fiction, with none of the finalists under review at the complete review.

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

       John Bayley (1925-2015)

       Iris Murdoch's husband (and Elegy for Iris, etc. author) John Bayley has passed away.
       Though accomplished in his own right -- as literary critic, among other things -- he has not unexpectedly gotten the Elizabeth Jane Howard-treatment in death, i.e. he is recalled primarily as the spouse of a more famous writer; hence, for example, The Telegraph's obituary, John Bayley, widower of Dame Iris Murdoch, dies. (The Telegraph also notes that he died back on the 12th and they've already held the funeral.)

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

       Writing in ... Burma

       At Sampsonia Way James Byrne considers On the Precipice: Burmese Literature Post-Censorship.
       There's a very small selection of Burmese (and Burma-related) literature under review at the complete review; I do hope to be able to add (muc) more to that ... eventually.

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

       Who's Afraid of Meryl Streep ? review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rashid al-Daif's Who's Afraid of Meryl Streep ?: now out in English from the University of Texas Press.

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

21 January 2015 - Wednesday

Wakefield Press Q & A | Publishing in ... Turkey
Mayakovsky review

       Wakefield Press Q & A

       At Entropy they have a Q & A with Marc Lowenthal of the wonderful Wakefield Press. Always fascinating to see how small presses with such an impressive output manage -- with Wakefield the rare tiny publisher (with translation focus, no less) that isn't officially a non-profit (not that they make any profit, apparently).

       Several -- though not enough ! -- Wakefield titles are under review at the complete review, including Mynona's The Creator, Jean Ferry's The Conductor and Other Tales, and the great Georges Perec's An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris.

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

       Publishing in ... Turkey

       In Hurriyet they report that Book production on rise in Turkey, which sounds good. Hey, "More than 561 million copies of books were published in Turkey last year" !
       Alas, a mere "3 percent were adult fiction books". By comparison: 71 per cent were "educational books" -- and "9 percent were faith books".
       When faith-book-production outnumbers fiction by three to one ... not good.
       By comparison, US numbers from 2013 had fiction at 16.57 per cent of traditional book production -- with "religion" titles a still way over-represented 6.12 per cent.

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

       Mayakovsky review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bengt Jangfeldt's Mayakovsky: A Biography, just out in English from the University of Chicago Press.
       Let's hope it leads to a bit of a Mayakovsky revival !

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

20 January 2015 - Tuesday

NBCC Awards finalists | 21st Century's 12 greatest novels ?
Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

       NBCC Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the (American) National Book Critics Circle Awards in the six categories they honor (fiction, general non-fiction, auto- and biography, criticism, and poetry), as well as the special-category winners.
       Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric managed the very impressive feat of being a finalist in two categories -- poetry and criticism. See the Graywolf publicity page, or get your copy at or
       One work in translation slipped in -- Thomas Piketty's very deserving Capital in the Twenty-First Century -- but the only title under review at the complete review is Vikram Chandra's Geek Sublime (yet another Graywolf title !), which, for some reason, is a 'criticism'-finalist.

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

       21st Century's 12 greatest novels ?

       BBC Culture apparently polled "several dozen book critics" in trying to determine "the greatest novels of the opening years of this tumultuous century"; alas the critics, notable though they might be in the English-speaking world, prove shockingly monoglot in their reading and opinions: not a one of what they rank as The 21st Century's 12 greatest novels was written in a foreign language -- which seems a rather unlikely conclusion to reach.
       Apparently a few titles in translation (god forbid they'd even consider anything not yet translated into the be-all language that is English ...) did crack the top twenty: W.G.Sebald's Austerlitz at number 14, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante at 15, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño at 19 -- but on the whole this is a disappointingly provincial list.
       Nevertheless, several of the top dozen are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

       They've announced that the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation goes to ... Sinan Antoon, for his translation of his own work, The Corpse Washer.
       Admirably, they list all seventeen entries for the prize (scroll down) -- as every literary prize should !

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

19 January 2015 - Monday

Coming in translation | Vladislavić's folly | Lies, First Person review

       Coming in translation

       For readers in the US, the gold standard is Three Percent's 2015 Translation Database (warning ! dreaded xls format !), listing some 166 works of fiction and poetry in translation being published for the first time in the US this year (to be updated as the year progresses -- the final total should be somewhere around three times that), but for a more manageable, annotated UK list PEN Atlas offers Publishers' translation highlights 2015, where UK publishers introduce some of their finest coming offerings -- a lot to look forward to.

       (Updated - 20 January): Also of some possible interest/use: Typographical Era's 2015 Visual Guide to Translated Fiction, which offers the book covers of 2015 titles in translation (and links to Amazon). (As an entirely text/content-focussed person I find this approach distracting more than anything else, but I can see how it might be considered like bookstore-browsing. And it does look neat.)

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

       Vladislavić's folly

       It's nice to see authors finally catch on abroad -- especially authors who haven't just been 'lost in translation' but rather write in English, but for whatever reason are overlooked in the US/UK markets. South African author Ivan Vladislavić has finally been getting some US/UK attention, with the publication there of works such as Double Negative and now, with the announcement (via) that his 1993 debut (!) The Folly has finally been sold in the US and UK, to first-rate publishers Archipelago Books and And Other Stories -- well, what more validation could one ask for ?

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

       Lies, First Person review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gail Hareven's Lies, First Person, due out shortly from Open Letter.

       Hareven's The Confessions of Noa Weber was the very deserving 2010 Best Translated Book Award winner -- too bad it seems to already be out of print.

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

18 January 2015 - Sunday

Arno Schmidt at 101 | The Hindu Prize | Pulp-fiction in ... India

       Arno Schmidt at 101

       The great German author, Arno Schmidt, was born 18 January 1914. His centenary was well-celebrated in Germany, but to my chagrin English-language coverage was ... minimal.
       What to do ? Write a monograph, of course, introducing US/UK readers -- those that haven't got (as I'm sure a not insignificant percentage of Literary Saloon readers in fact do) the four-volume collected fiction edition from Dalkey Archive Press ... -- to the author and his work: Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy, a Literary Saloon-dialogue (in best (or at least imitative) Schmidtian-fashion).
       So if you didn't celebrate the centenary in proper style (i.e. full Schmidt immersion) then consider doing it up right this year. My little book is a great way for you to dip your toe into the admittedly sometimes forbidding-sounding author, a small first step as your perhaps prepare for the forthcoming publication of the English translation of his heavyweight magnum opus.
       Available in a variety of formats: paperback at all the Amazons internationally (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.), and from your local bookseller (probably not in stock, but they should be able to order it for you) or other online retailers; it's also available on Kindle (get your copy at US, UK, or other Amazon); as well as ePub.

       Of course, while Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy is (I hope and believe) a good introduction to the man and his work, the real goal and ambition should be to read his work -- so if you're ready for that step: take the plunge ! (If you haven't made any reading-resolutions for the year, tackling the work of Arno Schmidt would seem to be a worthy one -- and the amount and variety available in English would have you pretty well-covered.)

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

       The Hindu Prize

       They've announced that Book of Common Signs, Ashok Srinivasan's debut work, has won The Hindu Prize, a leading Indian book prize.
       See also the Harper Collins (India) publicity page, or get your copy at,, or Flipkart.

       The lone customer review at is negative but makes me even more eager to read the book:
The book is too dark for comfort and definitely feels like the author has no idea what he is writing about in many places. Don't bother to read the book. Its nuts.

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

       Pulp-fiction in ... India

       The Times of India reports the disappointing news that Digital era spelling doom for Hindi pulp-fiction.
       As The 65 Lakh Heist-author Surendra Mohan Pathak complains:
There are no longer any potential writers or new readers because people are now more interested in television and using their mobile phones or the internet
       On the other hand, maybe the situation isn't entirely hopeless:
"The readership of the genre may have come down, but it still remains hugely popular. Fans buy ten books by Pathak at a time, while also pre-booking them," Minakshi Thakur, senior commissioning editor, Harper Collins, told us.

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

17 January 2015 - Saturday

Houellebecq sales numbers | Translation in ... India
The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma review

       Houellebecq sales numbers

       As Victor Garcia reports in L'Express, Soumission, de Houellebecq, vendu à 155 000 exemplaires en cinq jours -- Michel Houellebecq's controversial novel has sold an astonishing 155,000 copies in its first five days on sale, with the total print run now being upped to 250,000 (and, no doubt, soon to be increased again)
       The French edition seems to be doing phenomenally well on Amazon in the US and UK too: an 'Amazon Best Sellers Rank' of 9,734 at, last I checked, despite a hefty price tage of US$44.96 (reduced from a rather questionable 'list price' of $49.95 -- quite the exchange rate rip-off, given that the French price is €21)), and a decent showing at as well.
       While German and Italian translations are due out within the week, the US/UK publishers are presumably kicking themselves for not having proceeded with a bit more urgency. It will still presumably do well in translation -- presumably better than the recent Houellebecqs -- but not like it would have sold now.

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

       Translation in ... India

       At Mini Krishnan, editor of 'a programme of literary translations for Oxford University Press (India)', explains Why I publish translations of Indian literature -- suggesting that at least the situation has improved some over the past three or so decades.

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

       The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lima Barreto's century-old novel, The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma, a recent Penguin Classics translation soon to be available in the US as well.
       Penguin Classics have been doing quite a few Brazilian classics recently; certainly good to see.

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16 January 2015 - Friday

Jerusalem Prize to Ismail Kadare | Akutagawa and Naoki prizes

       Jerusalem Prize to Ismail Kadare

       The biennial Jerusalem Prize, awarded at the Jerusalem Book Fair (8 to 12 February this year), will go to Ismail Kadare (Twilight of the Eastern Gods, etc.) this year; see, for example the reports in the Times of Israel and Haaretz.

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

       Akutagawa and Naoki prizes

       They've announced the winners of the Akutagawa and Naoki prizes -- two of the leading Japanese literary prizes --; see, for example, the Kyodo report, Ono wins Akutagawa literary award; Nishi wins Naoki Prize, at The Japan Times.

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

15 January 2015 - Thursday

Best-selling French novelists, 2014 | Arthur Goldhammer profile
The Sleepworker review

       Best-selling French novelists, 2014

       Always interesting to see: Le Figaro has their annual list of the ten best-selling French authors (total sales of all their books in the past year), with Guillaume Musso yet again in the top spot; see Musso et Modiano décollent, Lévy décroche, le palmarès 2014.

       The top three authors were:
  1. Guillaume Musso - 1,631,200 copies sold (+16.05%)
  2. Katherine Pancol - 1,216,300
  3. Marc Levy - 998,900 (-16.74%)
       Pancol had dropped out of the top ten last year (see my discussion), but came roaring back in 2014. Also impressive: Patrick Modiano's Nobel win helped propel him to 6th place -- and his 707,000 total sold copies would have been good enough to put him third on the 2013 list.
       Meanwhile, Amélie Nothomb's ten-year run in the top ten came to an end last year and she still hasn't recovered, despite yet another bestselling new title -- that backlist just isn't being bought as widely any longer.
       As to Musso, he isn't entirely unknown in English -- and his most recent novel is titled Central Park (yes, after the New York one). Several of his books have been translated -- see, for example, the Gallic Books publicity page for his The Girl on Paper, or get your copy at -- but he certainly hasn't come anywhere near to equaling his French popularity in the UK, much less the US.

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       Arthur Goldhammer profile

       Translator (of Zola's The Kill, for example) Arthur Goldhammer has been attracting some notice because he's the one who translated Thomas Piketty's Capital, and in The New Republic Jeet Heer argues that, in fact, he's 'America's finest bridge to French culture', in Found in Translation.

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

       The Sleepworker review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Cyrille Martinez's Andy Warhol-channeling The Sleepworker.

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

14 January 2015 - Wednesday

Perumal Murugan | Jia Pingwa | JQ-Wingate prize shortlist
Conversation about Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth
Genocide of One review

       Perumal Murugan

       Generally, I welcome author-announcements that they're stopping writing -- if you have nothing more to say, don't force it (as far too many authors who have had success with one book do). Reports such as B.Kolappan's in The Hindu, that Tamil author Perumal Murugan gives up writing, are something entirely different, however, and one can only hope that it is only a (temporary) cry made out of desperation at what has become an untenable position.
       "Perumal Murugan, the writer is dead" he has apparently posted on his 'Facebook'-page and has even gone so far as to have:
urged his publishers [...] not to sell his novels, short stories, poetries and other creative works.
       What led to this ? Belated outrage over his novel மாதொருபாகன் -- published in English as One Part Woman; see the Penguin Books India publicity page, or get your copy at or
       A couple of weeks ago some folks started to take offence -- years after the book was first published -- and, as The Hindu reported two weeks ago, BJP, RSS seek ban on Tamil novel, arrest of author. Apparently they were upset that the book describes "traditional free, consensual sex rituals" that are part of temple tradition, and:
In their petition, the BJP, RSS and other Hindu outfits said that in many pages the author had denigrated Lord Shiva and the women devotees who visited the temple during the car festival. The cited the narratives in pages, 87, 116, 117, 118, 129 and 172 of the book were in bad taste. They demanded the arrest of both the author and the publisher.
       It's so silly that one almost has to laugh -- except they're dead serious, managing first to hound the author out of town and now to this. Particularly troubling: the BJP isn't just some extremist 'Tea Party' fringe: they're the ruling party in India.
       Many have spoken up in support of the author -- see A.R.Venkatachalapathy's In defence of the chronicler of Kongu -- and his is surely a voice (or rather: pen) that India should celebrate and encourage -- see N Kalyan Raman on the Kongunadu novels of Perumal Murugan, in Boats against the Current. As is, this is a terrible turn of events.
       It would be great to see some sensible political leadership -- voicing support for the author and his books. But populist fanaticism seems the more popular option, so things look pretty grim.

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       Jia Pingwa

       At Paper Republic Bruce Humes raises a question that I've often wondered about -- how: Jia Pingwa: Popularity in China Contrasts with Low Profile in Translation.
       Back in my Nobel-preview in 2010 (the year Mario Vargas Llosa won) I suggested there were three possible Chinese contenders (none of whom figured on the betting sheets at the time) -- and I maintained Jia would be: "the likeliest of the Chinese choices":. (My other two candidates ? Wang Meng and 2012 laureate Mo Yan (who: "would appear to be the strongest Chinese candidate"). Not bad speculation, I have to say.)
       Of course, I've been on the Jia bandwagon for a while -- imagining back in 2008 of yet another of his prize-winning books: "maybe this will make it into English sometime (relatively) soon". Yeah, not yet.
       It really is odd -- though some of the commenters to Humes' short piece suggest some reasons.

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       JQ-Wingate prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate literary prize ("charged with translating Jewishness to a general audience").
       I've actually read two of these -- the Michel Laub and the Dror Burstein -- but didn't review either; between these and titles ranging from a Gary Shteyngart to Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz it's a ... rather odd mix.

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

       Conversation about Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth

       I wasn't able to attend this, but it's great that The Believer's 'logger' now has a transcript up of a 'Conversation about Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth', moderated by Joshua Cohen and with a panel of Richard Panchyk, George Prochnik, Tess Lewis, and Sophie Pinkham, Multiple Identities

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

       Genocide of One review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Takano Kazuaki's Genocide of One.
       Sometime Murakami-translator Philip Gabriel did the Englishing here, for whatever that's worth. (As it turns out: not too much. Not really literary material he was working with here.)
       Also of interest: the US publisher went with the jacket- and publicity-copy teaser:
During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet.
       I almost put the library copy back on the shelf right then and there, but my Best Translated Book Award conscience -- we'll consider everything ! -- kicked in. Still, I don't think that was the way to go -- and it's interesting to note that the UK publisher copy went for something much more succinct and vague:
One bright morning in Washington D.C., the US President learns of a terrifying new threat to national security.

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

13 January 2015 - Tuesday

Asymptote anniversary event | International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist
Man Booker Prize rules modifications | Updated Translation Databases
Prize-winners and the Best Translated Book Award

       Asymptote anniversary event

       If you read the Literary Saloon then surely you're also a fan of online-publication Asymptote, with its most impressive international literature coverage.
       This Saturday, the 17th, they're having a fourth anniversary event in New York City, Why Retranslate the Classics ? at the Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, featuring translators Susan Bernofsky, Edith Grossman, and Damion Searls. Among their re-translations are Kafka's The Metamorphosis (Bernofsky), Don Quixote (Grossman), and -- the easiest one to justify -- Searls' forthcoming translation of Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries. That should be a great discussion.

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

       International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist

       They've announced the 2015 International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist, 16 novels by novelists from nine countries, a record five of whom are women, selected from 180 entries from fifteen different countries. The shortlist will be announced 13 February (which is also the day they reveal the names of the judges -- kept secret for now).
       See also the Arabic Literature (in English) coverage from M.Lynx Qualey, In a Shift, Five Women Authors on 2015 International Prize for Arabic Fiction Longlist.

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

       Man Booker Prize rules modifications

       No press release at the official site yet, but in The Bookseller Joshua Farrington reports that Man Booker Prize modifies longlist availability rules.
       Among the interesting/odd ones:
The prize has also adjusted the time limits on publication dates for books originally published outside the UK. Under the new rules, books must have been originally published outside the UK no more than two years before the UK publication date in order to be eligible.
       Presumably the reasoning behind this is that they want 'current' books, not re-discoveries that happened never to have been published in the UK -- a small number of titles every year (but presumably pretty decent ones).
       And they now define "publisher" more closely (as only "publishers" can submit books), including that a "publisher" is now also:
defined as producing at least two literary fiction novels by different writers in the year
       Regrettably, there still appears to be no interest whatsoever in lifting the outrageous veil of secrecy around what books are actually submitted and considered for the prize.

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

       Updated Translation Databases

       At Three Percent Chad Post has the exciting news that The Translation Databases Have Been Updated -- this ever-useful resource now more accurate and complete !
       Nice increases in counted titles the past three years, too -- fiction improving from 387 (2012) to 448 (2013) to 494 (2014). Even if that means we have to consider 10 per cent more titles for the Best Translated Book Award this year (see also below) -- the more, the merrier. (Okay, not necessarily merrier, but certainly more exciting, more varied, more intriguing.)

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

       Prize-winners and the Best Translated Book Award

       It's my turn this week to post at Three Percent on the ongoing Best Translated Book Award-deliberations (coming down to the wire -- the longlist announcement will be 2 March), and I take a look at some of the already-(other-)prize-winning titles we're considering.

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

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