Russian author Ludmila Ulitskaya won the Park Kyung-ni literary prize for her book Daniel Stein, Interpreter.
Contenders for the Korean award included British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, and American author and activist Alice Walker.
They're trying to make this the big international Korean literary prize, but it looks like it'll still be a while before it is taken seriously enough to break into the ranks.
Via I am pointed to The Quietus' piece Homelands: Patrick White - A Personal Odyssey, where: 'In the centenary year of the celebrated Australian author's birth, Barnaby Smith asks how it is that this giant of literature has all but disappeared from the nation's cultural consciousness'
How indeed ?
As longtime readers know -- and as is obvious from the reviews of much of White's work at the complete review -- I am a big fan, and consistently baffled that he isn't more widely read (and the books more widely available -- though a drip of re-issues has slightly improved that situation).
Smith's piece certainly isn't reassuring
It has been a long time since White was a common inclusion on any university curriculum; but more serious is his lack of influence across wider culture.
Worryingly, a high school English teacher friend told me she had never heard of him, while another, a literature post-grad with theses on Australian literature behind him and a book critic, has never read White
The other telling thing is that at the many talks and lectures the State Library have put on to mark White's birth, the average age of attendees must be somewhere between 60 and 70.
And, if several overheard conversations are anything to go by, some of them appear to be interested because they remember him as a curious public figure in the 80s rather than an author.
All this despite (or perhaps because of ?) the fact that, as Smith nicely points out:
In some ways, each of White's books is an exhortation for each Australian to explore his or her inner space and rise above the complacency and philistinism he saw so acutely: their morality, their motivations, their intentions and their context.
I still hold out hope that this is all just a temporary thing and that everyone will come to their senses and embrace and revere White's work as they properly should.
In The Scotsman Susan Mansfield profiles Jan Morris, travel writer -- though, of course s/he's more than that, as: "James became Jan in 1972, Britain's first high-profile gender reassignment case".
Either way, s/he's a fine writer; I've read a few (though none are under review at the complete review), and they're quite good.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Didier Daeninckx's Murder in Memoriam.
This has been out in a Serpent's Tail edition for a while, but now Melville House is bringing out a US edition (and following up with A Very Profitable War in January, which I also look forward to).
The Southeast Asian Writers Awards have announced that คนแคระ ('The Dwarf') by Vipas Srithong (วิภาส ศรีทอง) has won the Thai prize.
That home page has the information, as well as a brief Q & A with the author; see also the Bangkok Post report, Vipas wins SEA Write Award.
The Bangkok Post also has a brief look at all the shortlisted authors, and Q & As with them here.
At least all this offers some insight into the Thai literary scene -- far too little of which makes it into English.
But the stupidity and vulgarity that are becoming the banner of our times -- no one could have expected that.
The most idiotic laws are passed, the most monstrous trials are going on.
Take the notorious Pussy Riot case.
That exceeded everything that could be written in satire.
In The Australian Stephen Romei profiles Christopher Koch, in The double man.
Koch has a new novel out (in Australia), Lost Voices -- but remains best know for The Year of Living Dangerously, because of the film .....
I staked everything on The Year of Living Dangerously.
I put a hell of a lot into it and I got a lot of enjoyment out of writing it.
And in the end it was the book that saved me from sinking into obscurity.
So, I'll never put it down.
I just get a bit sick of the film being lumped in all the time.
It is a very good book, too -- get your copy at Amazon.com (can it really be that it's out of print int the UK ?).
In The Washington Post Neely Tucker tries to explain Why the embargo on Rowling's 'Casual Vacancy' didn't hold, as the latest Harry Potter-book was apparently embargoed but not entirely successfully.
(One possible reason for the embargo ?
Apparently not a single character from the previous Harry Potter books appears in it, which presumably would be rather disappointing to fans, if they heard about that beforehand.)
As Matthew Bell reported in The Independent a few days ago, in J K Rowling and the Publishers' Moan:
My colleague, Katy Guest, our literary editor, was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement before her reviewer could be "hand-delivered" a copy of the book.
Embargoes are normal, but within the legalese, Guest found a clause stating that even the existence of the agreement could not be mentioned.
A sort of publishing superinjunction.
I would take issue with the idea that embargoes are in any way 'normal', but at least The Independent did the only thing they could and should: tossed the agreement, unsigned.
I assume embargoes are a sort of publisher-swagger -- an attempt by them to demonstrate that they still have power over all the little folk (reviewers, booksellers, and, at the very bottom of the ladder, readers).
As with many things publishers do, I don't think it serves anyone's purpose -- least of all their own.
But given how weakened they are you can see why they want to pull desperate crap like this.
I'm just disappointed that so many outlets went along with it -- even The New York Times toed the line (I guess they couldn't find a copy at the local drugstore, as they usually manage to do).
(Of course embargoes are the least of my worries: I'm so out of the loop that I have a hard time getting most books I ask for from 'major' publishers (minor exceptions notwithstanding), and obviously no one even offered to offer me The Casual Vacancy (good call, guys).)
If, for some reason, you are interested in the Rowling book, you can get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; it seems to be doing quite well (sales-wise).
Salon (Slovakia) reports on a recent article by Polish author Jerzy Pilch (His Current Woman, etc.), offering "five warnings to would-be diarists", in Visegrad Mirror: The Poles Are Always Prepared !.
(The Pilch piece originally appeared in Tygodnik Powszechny, but I can't find it online.)
The: "inspiration for his Five Cardinal Sins of a Diary Writer came from Günter Grass's Tagebuch 1990 (1990 Diary)" -- which is coming out in November from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as From Germany to Germany: Diary 1990; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (I have a copy, and hope to get to it before publication day).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hồ Anh Thái's Apocalypse Hotel -- a rare contemporary (well, decade-old) Vietnamese novel made available in English.
A few observations about this book:
It's the first (and so far only ...) volume in Texas Tech University Press' new Modern Southeast Asian Literature-series; I hope many more will follow: as I often note and complain: this is an area that is woefully under-represented in English translation
The novel was "adapted" by Wayne Carlin -- they admit that much, but not any more: there is an Introduction by Karlin, but he doesn't reveal exactly how he butchered adapted the text
Wayne Carlin, who "adapted" the book, was not the one who translated it -- that was Jonathan R.S. McIntyre
The cover features the name of the author, and notes that the book is "adapted and introduced by Wayne Karlin" -- but makes no mention of a translator
I find much of this disturbing, but given that I am on the fanatical end of the translation spectrum (strict literalism, please ...) generally try to bite my tongue on these matters (though that footprint on the much-stomped-on cover of my copy of the book might give some indication of how I feel about these things ...); but regardless of how a text is mauled, surely it's only good form to put the translator's name on the cover, especially if you put the name of the person who "adapted" it there .....
(Of course, Karlin may be a name that carries considerably more clout in the Vietnamese-literature-field -- though I do hope this all doesn't have anything to do with the fact that he also happens to be the 'series editor' of this new series .....)
The Göteborg Book Fair starts today and runs through the 30th; aside from the usual fair-activity there should be some decent Nobel Prize gossiping going on (among the many participants is the Nobel-deciding Svenska Akademien (with head Nobel-man Peter Englund in attendance)).
I'm not sure about some of what's on offer -- The Nordic stand seethes with activity ! -- but I look forward to hearing some reports.
The new (well, Spring/2012 -- but new online) issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction is now available, and while the Robert Coover Festschrift-content isn't freely accessible, all the reviews (and there is a nice heap of them) are -- scroll down.
There are so many which should be translated or retranslated.
For example, the 1930ís translation of Döblin's Berlin, Alexanderplatz is dated and unreliable and it's astonishing that no new translation has appeared.
(That would be Eugène Jolas' translation; I'm amazed there isn't a more recent one.)
And Chalmers also offers this very sad but very good piece of advice:
And the translator has to be prepared for disappointment, when the English-speaking literary world ignores the masterpiece they spent a year working on.
In Writers examine uncertainty of truth in The Myanmar Times they talk to a couple of Burmese authors of, to varying degrees, a postmodern bent, such as Thit Sar Ni.
Another author, Min Khite Soe San, suggests:
"In our country, the decline in human values occurred in a different way.
It was caused by years of living under a dictatorship," he said.
"This system has inflicted a lot of pain on us, and that has produced writers who have a strong affinity for postmodernism."
Min Khite Soe San invoked the metaphor of the rhizome to represent the character of postmodernism.
"The roots and stems spread in different directions under the ground.
We are unable to trace where the root starts and ends, and every branch is part of the main.
The rhizome grows in many directions, and I think this is a good way to portray society in the age of postmodernism," he said.
Meanwhile writer and blogger Nay Phone Latt explains:
"Readers [of realist novels] feel happy if the story has a happy ending, or they feel sad if the story has a sad ending.
For me, this curtails the reader's right to enjoy freedom of thought and feeling.
It's likely that I enjoy postmodernism because it allows me to think and feel more freely when I read these stories."
Now if only some of this stuff was available in English translation .....
The Penguin Group's New York State Supreme Court breach of contract/unjust enrichment complaints include copies of book contracts signed by the respective defendants.
And you can find those complaints fairly easily via the NY State 'Supreme Court Records On-Line Library' -- which you can access via this page; type in 'Penguin Group' under 'plaintiff search'.
(I find the contracts -- Exhibit A in the paperwork -- fascinating; they also include brief descriptions of the unwritten work (and I have to wonder whether we all shouldn't just chip in and cover the $10,000 (well, plus interest ...) that preserved us from Deborah Branscum's Stuffola, the book (see her official site ...)).)
The most interesting case is probably that of Lucy Siegle, who got a $100,000 contract (! -- though they only forked over/are suing for the $35,000 advance) for To Die For -- a book she never delivered to them (so the complaint) but which does, in fact exist, and was published by Fourth Estate (a HarperCollins imprint ...) in the UK (for which Penguin did not get the rights in this contract) -- get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.
So what the hell happened there ?
(They terminated the agreement upon non-delivery in February 2009 is part of the story -- they apparently weren't as patient as Fourth Estate -- but still .....)
Suing an author is a pretty desperate act -- publishers usually try to resolve these things ... well, if not amicably, at least without involving (too many) lawyers -- but the sums here probably (just) make it worthwhile (though several of these are in the $20,000 range (and the Branscum is a piddling 10K), which I would have figured to be close to the figure where you just write it off as a loss (and blacklist the author) if you have a Penguin-sized turnover).
On the other hand, I'm actually a bit surprised there aren't more authors for them to go after (presumably they settled a lot of other claims with authors, for fifty cents on the dollar or whatever they could wring out of them).
A quick SCROLL search also finds surprisingly few other NY-based publishers taking this approach ... for now.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martín Adán's 1928 The Cardboard House in a new edition from New Directions, for which Katherine Silver has revised her 1990 translation.
"It was hard work.
In a normal year, you might read 20 novels.
So to read 145 in seven months is an unnatural act," he says.
"But it's an important unnatural act because in a way literary criticism is an unnatural act. It is work, a technique, a skill."
Twenty novels in a normal ... year ?
That's what the editor of a major book review publication thinks ?
Sure, I doubt the clearly fiction-averse Sam Tanenhaus manages that many, but I had higher hopes regarding Stothard.
(I don't know what 'you' Stothard is talking about, but if I don't read twenty novels a month I have excruciating withdrawal symptoms.)
He'll probably also get some flak for this -- even though he also notes that: ""It is wonderful that there are so many blogs and websites devoted to books" --:
The rise of blogging has proved particularly worrying, he says.
"Eventually that will be to the detriment of literature.
It will be bad for readers; as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others.
It just ain't so. People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we'll be worse off.
There are some important issues here."
I note that many print publications have encouraged people to buy and read crap for centuries -- and that in the case of weblogs and many book-review sites it is actually easier to tell whether the reviewer(s) share(s) the taste of the (prospective) reader: for example, with my reviews all conveniently collected here, readers can easily check my opinion of books they have also read and see whether I'm on their wavelength (and hence possibly trustworthy, in this regard) or not.
(Updated - 26 September): And, yes, no surprise as to the fallout from Stothard's comments re. blogging: as the rather sensational headline for the Alison Flood piece in The Guardian has it, this was widely interpreted as Books bloggers are harming literature, warns Booker prize head judge .....
And, of course, there were lots of blog responses, too:
She has already won numerous international accolades for her novels, short stories and narratives; in Germany, for example, the Deutsche Welle Prize for Literature in 1993.
Yet she has not received a single award in Egypt.
Hence her complaint:
"Here in Egypt, literary prizes are awarded to male artists who also enjoy good relations with the government.
If I publish a book however, I earn very little. In my view, this is also a kind of corruption," she says, clearly disgusted.
Certainly one hopes that is one of the things that will change now.
None of her work is under review at the complete review, but I do have a couple of her novels and expect to get to them -- probably The Golden Chariot first (see also the American University in Cairo Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
With New Zealand the guest of honour at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair -- see their official site -- I continue to seek out works by New Zealand authors, but, damn, they're hard to find around here.
Nevertheless, the most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eleanor Catton's The Rehearsal.
I'll certainly be on the lookout for her next (not yet published, but apparently to be called The Luminaries).
And I also really like the fact that The Rehearsal was originally published by ... Victoria University Press.
Al-Hayat has learned that officials in the municipality are planning to turn Mutanabi Street into an animal market like Souk al-Ghazal.
Booksellers would only be permitted to work on Fridays
Iraqi intellectuals expect an increase in pressure on civic activities in the country.
They believe that under the guise of law and authority, the Iraqi government is trying to control cultural and social sectors and hubs in Baghdad.
This desire is an unconscious attempt to get compensation for a tragic history of Japanese colonization, during which Koreans were banned from speaking and writing their own language, he added.
More interesting: Kim revealing:
He said he grew up watching more North Korean channels on TV -- his town had a better reception from North Korea than from South Korea -- and that had a great deal of influence in forging his perception of North Korea.
"It was like one big theatrical performance."
Nilanjana S. Roy's collection of literary journalism, How To Read in Indian, is due out next year, but you can already check out her list of 50 Essential Writers in Translation [via].
I've only read a dozen or so of these; three are under review at the complete review:
There's a new Murray Bail novel out -- at least in Australia.
Text is bringing out The Voyage -- see their publicity page -- and while MacLehose Press has a UK edition due out in January (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.co.uk), I can't find an American edition yet.
Peter Craven reviews it in the Sydney Morning Herald and he likes it:
The jigsaw-puzzle, collage effect of The Voyage's narrative is, in practice, ravishing. (...) The Voyage is a beautiful book, sumptuously executed for all the apparent slenderness of its narrative line.
The review also contains one of the saddest and most irrelevant lines I've come across in any book review recently, as he writes about Bail's:
Eucalyptus, which almost became a film with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman
As if that meant anything.
(It's the book that counts, not some two-bit pseudo-stars of the day (or yesterday) who might have appeared in some screen version, had it come to that.)
In an apparent attempt to distract from the mess that is the ((not quite) scheduled) upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, China is egging on nationalist protests against Japan, using the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute (which, for all its apparent faults, the iPhone 5 much-maligned Maps-app, neatly resolves) as a pathetic excuse -- and that now extends to ... bookstore shelves.
Yes, as the Asahi Shimbun reports, Japan-related books disappear in Beijing; Chinese demand pay hikes from Japanese employers.
So, for example:
At Wangfujing, a well-known bookstore in central Beijing, copies of 1Q84 were removed from a shelf displaying best-sellers on Sept. 21, along with all other books by Japanese authors.
An internationally renowned novelist, Murakami has long enjoyed a strong following in China.
Another large bookstore in Beijing has followed suit. All publications related to Japan or written by Japanese authors were yanked from the shelves and carted away.
German author Herbert Rosendorfer has passed away.
Dedalus has brought out several of his works in English; see their author page, or get your copy of, for example, The Architect of Ruins at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Monika Zgustová was born in then-still Czechoslovakia but has lived in Barcelona for decades, and has translated many books into Spanish and Catalan -- among them her own Grave cantabile, published in Czech in 2000, and then as La dona dels cent somriures in Catalan in 2001.
The Feminist Press has now published an English translation, Goya's Glass -- see their publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and, yes, the translation, by Matthew Tree, is from the Catalan version.
Sure, Zgustová is entirely responsible for the Catalan edition as well -- but it's still a second-hand translation .....
It's been the Hutch Crossword Book Award; it's been the Vodafone Crossword Book Award; apparently this week it's The Economist Crossword Book Award (though The Economist takes no credit and makes no mention of lending their name (and, presumably, financial support) at their own site ...), and this leading Indian literary prize has now announced the shortlists for this year's prize, in English fiction, non-, and translation (they apparently also hand out an award for best kids' book, but don't (bother to ?) reveal the shortlist for that); there's also a 'popular' prize, "chosen by avid-readers".
The site is ... not very informative (though apparently they are working on that ...), and I couldn't find the longlist data there, but fortunately IBN live listed all the longlisted titles (hurrah !) -- 137 works of fiction (dig some of those titles !), 105 of English non-, 59 children's titles ... and a mere 28 works in translation.
(How is it possible that only so few works of translation were submitted/considered ?
Is that really all there was last year in India ?)