Friedrich Christian Delius got to pick up his Georg-Büchner-Preis yesterday, the most prestigious German author prize; see now also Gabriela Schaaf's Q & A with the president of the German Academy for Language and Literature, Klaus Richert, about Delius getting the prize, in Büchner Prize goes to chronicler of German history at Deutsche Welle.
Peirene brought out Delius' Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman in English last year, and a US edition is due out from FSG early next year; see the Peirene publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk, or pre-order from Amazon.com.
is the partner of the celebrated film star Miou-Miou and his oldest friend is Jean Paul Gaultier
His Eat Him If You Like is just out from Gallic Books; see their publicity page or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk.
He does choose amusing-interesting subjects for his books; the only one under review at the complete review is The Suicide Shop.
In the Financial Times David Pilling has Lunch with the FT: Donald Keene, who recently emigrated to Japan; oddly enough, they dine in a French restaurant there.
Scroll down also for Pico Iyer’s recommended reading re. Japan.
Jacques Barzun is a month shy of his 104th birthday, but apparently still active enough to churn out the occasional book review: in the Wall Street Journal he tackles Why Trilling Matters by Adam Kirsch -- presumably since it allows him to argue once again that Great Books Matter.
This is an attractive account of a powerful critic.
This said, it must be added that what we have is half a book or half a man.
For it leaves out of account the genesis of the medium of which he, and by now every writer, philosopher, businessman, thief or street urchin is a constituent part.
I refer to culture, our culture.
Good for him, still fighting the good fight.
(I can't imagine I'll get to Why Trilling Matters, but see the Yale University Press 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 Amir Hassan Cheheltan's آمریکایی کُشی در تهران (based on the German translation).
Cheheltan has had some issues with the regime, living abroad for several years, but most of his books -- this one included -- are published in Iran; however, the German translation of this novel does note that it is the first publication of a version that is uncut and that did not have to take the Iranian censors into account.
The November-December issue of World Literature Today -- with a cover feature on 'Post-Soviet Literature: Twenty Years After the Fall' -- is now available, with quite a bit of the material available online.
Among the articles of interest: several focusing on Zoran Živković (several of whose titles are under review at the complete review -- The Fourth Circle, Hidden Camera -- though I hope to be able to get my hands on more)
And, of course, there are also the reviews.
Evidence received by the OFT during its investigation indicated that Amazon's share of the UK online book market was strong whilst The Book Depository's share of UK sales was small, accounting for between two to four per cent of online retailing of hard-copy books.
But surely hard-copy books are only part of the online retailing business they're both engaged in .....
(Still, I am surprised that The Book Depository is such a minor player.)
Odd, too, that the OFT apparently counts Amazon Marketplace sales as direct competition to Amazon, despite Amazon taking a cut from each sale.
Well, the Amazon-juggernaut appears unstoppable -- though interestingly sales via the links to Amazon.co.uk at this site (for which I earn a commission) have been down markedly since about the time they announced buying the Book Depository (September 2011 sales -- admittedly exceptionally poor -- were a mere third of those in September 2010).
See also, for example, Lisa Campbell's piece in The Bookseller, OFT gives go-ahead for Amazon/TBD merger.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Foenkinos' Delicacy -- the first of this bestselling French author's works to be published in the US.
And, yes, Audrey Tautou is starring in the film version, due to be released next year.
They've announced the 3° Sélection pour le prix Goncourt 2011 -- the final, shortest list of contenders (the Goncourt going through four rounds: a longlist, a shortlist, a shorter list (the stage just reached), and only then announcing the winner (next week).
Four books are left in the running:
L'Art français de la guerre by Alexis Jenni
La belle amour humaine by Lyonel Trouillot
Du Domaine des Murmures by Carole Martinez
Retour à Killybegs by Sorj Chalando
Haiti Libre is the only place I've found that has a brief description of all four titles in English, in The writer poet, Lyonel Trouillot finalist for the Goncourt 2011 (there is, of course, a great deal of French coverage, in all the papers).
Compared to last year's will-Houellebecq-finally-get-it excitement there doesn't seem nearly as much heated debate this time around.
Prix-Litteraires: Le blog have set up a poll where readers can vote, but only 14 had last I checked (with none of the votes going to Trouillot, probably the most familiar name to American readers left in the running).
They've announced the winner of the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust of Canada Prize for Non-Fiction -- and the prize went to Mordecai: The Life & Times, Charles Foran's Mordecai Richler biography.
Not the first prize he's won with that title -- but this one is apparently Canada's richest for non-fiction, at C$60,000 (which is impressive even in US$ -- just over 59,000).
Get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Always interesting to see what moves from one less widespread language to another, and in The Korea Times Choe Chong-dae offers a glimpse of Korean literature in Netherlands.
I was amused by his observation about the Nobel Prize (and that national obsession with not having won it):
I have come to realize that the main reason why a Korean author has yet to receive this award is the lack of proper translations into foreign languages.
What he fails to mention is that the Dutch might have a bit more to say on the matter: after all, they, too, have infamously never won the Nobel Prize in Literature -- despite being rather more in the European thick of things (and, on the whole, rather well and extensively translated).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Deon Meyer's Trackers.
(This thriller seems to have fallen a bit between the cracks, especially as far as US media coverage goes (not that there's been much more in the UK -- though The Independent did just get around to covering it); too bad, it's one of the best crime/thriller titles I've read this year and with it Meyer has solidified his position as one of the best thriller-writers going; he's certainly right up there with the best of the Scandinavians.)
"Okay, we do have few exceptional Africans.
(Chinua) Achebe created popular literature which resonates well with the African way of narrating a story.
"Soyinka showed us what can be done with the big vocabulary; (Kamara) Laye produced classics.
But in terms of really understanding what the European mentality is all about, only Ayi Kwei Armah and I have got it right."
Several of Taban Lo Liyon's books are under review at the complete review; see, for example, Another Last Word.
Of course, several of Ayi Kwei Armah's works are as well, such as Two Thousand Seasons.
At Salon Curtis Sittenfeld has a Q & A with Iowa Writers' Workshop director Lan Samantha Chang about the IWW and Why critics of MFA programs have it wrong.
(I'm not sure that it's really ideal to have IWW alumna Sittenfeld do the asking here, but, hey .....)
The numbers are pretty staggering 1,200-1,300 applications for the fiction program in 2010 (and close to 500 for poetry), and 29 accepted (in fiction, and about 25 in poetry).
All pretty much on the basis of less than a hundred pages of writing sample(s).
Each imprint is only allowed to send in two books, but -- a new rule this year -- previously shortlisted authors gain automatic entry.
None of us can disclose what has been submitted.
Why there's no transparency I'll never understand -- or rather: I understand it too well: publishers love it, because this way their authors will never know that their books were not, in fact submitted for the prize (and publishers can lie to the authors that they were); what I don't understand is how anyone can take this prize seriously without open knowledge of what is actually in the running for it .....
In any case, I wish that Wood had at least made mention of the fact that judges can and do call in a few titles every year (very few this time around, but there were a handful) -- and even if she can't name titles it would have been nice to hear how and why those titles were selected: obvious omissions made by the publishers hoping that the judges would feel compelled to call them in ? personal favorites ? a friend's book they thought was worth a look ?
Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs book is coming out this week, overshadowing (and likely far outselling) even 1Q84 .....
What's particularly impressive is that it is appearing in uniform editions in numerous translation practically at the same time (though note that, as I recently mentioned, you have to wonder about some of these: the German edition, for example, was translated by a team of six (!)).
So you can get your copy from:
Amazingly, it is already the bestselling book at all these Amazon outlets, even before publication -- except for France, where it only ranks third (one of the books still selling better: Stéphane Hessel's Indignez-vous ! still going strong).
The first review came out yesterday, Janet Maslin tackling it for The New York Times (the Kakutani presumably being busy with 1Q84 ...), in Making the iBio for Apple's Genius; a flood of reviews is sure to follow.
(Me ? I think I'll pass, thanks .....)
See also the publicity pages at Simon & Schuster and Little, Brown.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, J.M.Coetzee recently cashed in with his archives, selling them to the Harry Ransom Center in Texas for $1.5 million; see, for example, the official press release.
Now, in the Mail & Guardian Craig MacKenzie wonders whether the failure of any South African institution to get hold of these (or any of Coetzee's scraps) amounts to Our literary disgrace -- concluding:
In the long run perhaps South Africa's reputation as a breeding ground of talent that it then profligately exports benefits most from this arrangement.
Regarding Coetzee, he also notes:
I suspect Coetzee was not merely selling to the highest bidder and would never have been amenable to a South African offer anyway.
I understand that the University of Cape Town, where he taught from 1972 until his retirement in 2002, has nothing to show for his time there in terms of literary residue.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Texts from the Bibliothèque Oulipienne -- by Raymond Queneau, Italo Calvino, Paul Fournel, Claude Berge, Jacques Jouet, and Harry Mathews -- collected in Oulipo Laboratory.
The 1Q84 reviews and links continue to flood in -- there are now links to 55 reviews at my review-page (though by the time you read this there will probably already be more ...).
Among the more interesting new (non-review) links: Sam Anderson's lengthy profile in the upcoming issue of The New York Times Magazine, The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami.
My favorite quote from that piece:
"Most near-future fictions are boring," he told me.
"It’s always dark and always raining, and people are so unhappy.
I like what Cormac McCarthy wrote, The Road -- it's very well written ....
But still it's boring.
Yes, apparently there's yet another translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary out (at least in the UK) -- by Adam Thorpe.
He explains his approach -- and tries to justify the publication of yet another translation of this oft-translated work -- in The Guardian, in Madame Bovary: the Everest of translation.
His approach ?
I was convinced that, if set back in its own linguistic context, with our awareness of Victorian literature shadow-playing in the background, an English Madame Bovary could seem searingly radical again.
Yeah, okay .....
Get your copy at Amazon.co.uk -- and see the complete reviewreview of one of the older translations .....
In The Australian Stephen Romei profiles Janette Turner Hospital, in Dark matter.
She has a new book out, Forecast: Turbulence -- but apparently there's no US or UK edition yet.
But see the Harper Collins (Australia) publicity page.
So I finally got my copy of the US edition of Murakami Haruki's 1Q84 and finally got to find out what happens in volume three (just slightly underwhelming, since for the most part the main story really just continues its course to ... well, where it was destined to go).
I've now also had a chance to add to my review -- another 900 words or so -- but of course what that page is really useful for is the links to everybody else's coverage, which I seem to be adding to hourly: currently there are quotes from 25 reviews, and links to 47 -- and it's still pre-(US)-publication date .....
(There are only a handful of books which I have 100 review-links for, but this one looks to blast through that level fairly soon.)
In The Telegraph John McTernan argues that 'Middle-class liberals are fighting to keep libraries open out of condescension for the less fortunate and guilt that they, like everyone else, no longer use them', in Liberal whingers are wrong -- we should shut our libraries, in one of the most pathetic opinion pieces I have come across in a while.
He begins his piece:
When did you last go to a public library ? No, really, when ? It's probably a good few years -- and if so, you're not alone.
That always seems a dangerous gambit -- and, hey, maybe in Britain (or among Telegraph readers ...) he's on safe ground, as he points out that:
From one year to the next, nearly 60 per cent of us don't go to libraries at all.
In fact, fewer than one in five adults in England go more than once a month.
I'm not in England, but this certainly isn't my experience.
Despite the fact that publishers send me many of the books I request (and quite a few I don't), and despite the fact that I have ready internet access at home, I still couldn't survive -- or run this site -- without frequent trips to the library: I went the day before yesterday and am going again today; barely a week goes by when I don't visit a library, and usually I visit several (sadly, the public library branches even in New York city are pretty threadbare; reserves can get me specific desired titles, but I'm a browser, so I need to wander the stacks, and the local branch certainly can't satisfy anywhere near all my needs and requirements).
McTernan argues that public libraries are essentially obsolete -- since:
Take reference services, once the core of the public library's educational role.
Access to information has been transformed by the internet.
Google a subject and you can become ridiculously well-informed ridiculously quickly.
Engrossing lectures from the planet's best minds are freely available on university websites, from the TED conference series, or on BBC iPlayer.
Channels such as BBC Four or Sky Arts provide a wide range of high-quality documentaries across a multitude of subjects.
We live in an information-rich society -- so we should celebrate its availability, not yearn for a time when you had to go to the central library for it.
Hey, I celebrate the availability of this 'information' on the internet, and peruse it way too many hours a day -- but day in and day out, in seeking information for this site, I also see how limited and inadequate it is.
Despite the fact that it may appear I do everything online, without libraries to rely on, I don't know how I would manage.
[Since I'm not in Britain and don't neatly fit the demographic or ideological categories he's addressing (though, of course, the label 'whinger' readily applies ...), maybe I shouldn't be commenting -- but, christ, this guy just seems completely off his rocker.]