The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marie Chaix's The Summer of the Elder Tree, forthcoming shortly from Dalkey Archive Press (and translated by her husband, Harry Mathews).
Following the example of the VIDA count (examining the gender-make-up of reviewers, reviewed authors, etc. at various publications) The Guardian does a similar counting exercise in considering The gender balance of UK literary culture (though it should be noted that the "sample period" -- March, 2013 -- is a rather small one).
The figures (and graphs) are quite fascinating: the sample size really does seem rather small, but still, for both the Mail on Sunday (apparently a part of 'UK literary culture' -- who knew ?) and the London Review of Books to have only had male reviewers for works of fiction is pretty stunning -- though so is the fact that 93 per cent of reviews of works of fiction in The Times were by women.
(I'm also disappointed to that the New Statesman (82.6%) The Spectator (71.4%) so overwhelmingly favor covering non rather than real fiction.)
John Dugdale gives an overview (sort of) of How we calculated the gender balance of UK literary journalism, but of particular interest is Alex Clark's long piece on Gender balancing the books.
Among her observations going beyond the reviews-pages: a comparison of how well female-authored annotated texts did at the recent PEN auction, versus those by men.
In what can only be interpreted as a rather desperate attempt to stir up publicity, Scarlett Johansson is apparently suing French publisher JC Lattès over a novel they recently published (La première chose qu'on regarde, by Grégoire Delacourt), in which a figure resembling (and mistaken for) her figures prominently (but is eventually revealed to be someone else).
Despite extensive French coverage of this, the (legal) details remain somewhat murky -- and English-language coverage is ... well, so far relying on hastily translated and pieced together articles, where even the headlines apparently get it wrong (Scarlett Johansson sues author for using name in novel 'tribute' says The Independent, though it does appear it is (sensibly, despite Delacourt's recent commercial success) the deeper-pocketed publisher and not the author who is being sued).
It's not even clear what jurisdiction she is suing in (one demand: no translations ...); I'm not sure how French law treats this sort of thing, but from the sound of it the novel should easily pass muster in the US (with, at worst, author and publisher forced to claim it's parody or satire).
Given that the figure we recognize as 'Scarlett Johansson' -- from film, and from media coverage -- which is the 'identity' she surely wishes to protect, is an entirely artificial construct in the first place, the idea of her suing because she is (sort of) depicted in a work of fiction seems ludicrous in any case.
(Though, of course, those that 'created' this 'Scarlett Johansson' we know have a much better case: the legal hurdles to using fictional creations (like James Bond or Mickey Mouse) in unapproved works of fiction remains much higher than using 'real' people -- but it's the copyright holders, not the fictional creations (like 'Scarlett Johansson') that have the standing to seek legal redress.
In their foreign rights catalogue (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) Lattès translate the title as: 'The First Thing That People See' and begin their description of the work:
Grégoire Delacourt is back with an ultra-modern fable as ferocious as it is brilliant about the birth of love and the truth of souls.
On September 15th 2010 Arthur Dreyfuss, wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and Smurf underpants is watching an episode of The Sopranos when his doorbell rings.
It is Scarlett Johansson.
He is twenty years old and works in a garage as a mechanic.
She is twenty-six and needs something repaired.
Of course, I encourage you to bid, if you can, but for those of my readers who don't have the discretionary income for this sort of stuff but are in the New York City area, I remind you that you can view the items at Sotheby's through Monday -- worth a look.
They've announced that City of Bohane (by Kevin Barry) has been awarded this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (and the €100,000 that goes with it).
It was selected from the 153 nominated titles, and a ten-title shortlist (of which five were titles in translation).
City of Bohane is not under review at the complete review; it's just come out in paperback in the US -- get your copy at Amazon.com, or at Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (though not yet at the official site, last I checked), and this prize: "for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language" went to Philip Boehm for his translation of The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller (which was also a Best Translated Book Award finalist).
Chad Post has posted the (preliminary) 2013 'Translation Database' (of (previously untranslated) fiction and poetry in translation published in the US in 2013 -- you can download it here), and at Three Percent he offers some commentary, in Why Bury the Lede ? AmazonCrossing Publishes More Books in Translation than Anyone Else (In 2013. Probably.)
The database is a great resource -- and Chad's observations are also of interest.
The upward trend in available translations is certainly heartening, as is the fact that there are more publishers publishing works in translation.
As to AmazonCrossing zooming to the head of the list (with its ... unusual selection of titles) ... I still don't know quite how to take that.
(As to the big American publishers publishing so very little in translation ... I can just shake my head in disappointment.)
They've announced that May We Be Forgiven (by A.M.Homes) has been awarded the 2013 Orange [Baileys] Women's Prize for Fiction.
(And, yes, they announced their new sponsor a few days ago -- the world's first cream liqueur ! -- and, yes, at this point they might as well just re-name themselves annually; who can keep track of this nonsense (and these URLs) ?)
May We Be Forgiven is not under review at the complete review; you can get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They announced the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes yesterday, and apparently Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard and translated by Alyson Waters took the fiction prize (and non went to The Metamorphoses of Kinship by Maurice Godelier, translated by Nora Scott).
See also the pre-ceremony Q & A with the keynote speaker, Gregary J. Racz.
Joining Annie Leibovitz (Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities), Michael Haneke (Arts), and the Higgs-boson guy (Technical and Scientific Research), they've announced that Antonio Muñoz Molina will receive this year's Prince of Asturias Award for Literature; well deserved.
No word yet who this year's Sports-laureate will be.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction novels.
The prize will bring together high profile writers, book critics and academics from across the continent and beyond to identify new writers of African descent.
Submitted works must be the writer's first fiction novel of over 30,000 words and which has been published in the last twenty-four months.
There's an interesting criteria regarding submissions:
Entries for the Fiction Novel category opens today the 5th of June to publishers who have published a minimum of five authors in the last three years.
Apparently there will also be a 'Flash Fiction Short Stories' prize, though it isn't entirely clear what that will involve.
(Updated - 7 June): The official site for the prize is now up.
Disappointingly, the criteria for this 'pan-African' prize include that the: "book was first published in English".
Apparently it's unthinkable that an African book might have been first published (much less written ?) in any other language since ... well, what else would Africans possibly publish and write in ?
At Russia Beyond the Headlines they have a Q & A with translator-from-the-Russian Marian Schwartz.
I can't wait to see how US/UK translators react to her comment:
Of course, Western translation has a long way to go before it reaches the level of translation in Russia, where the art of translation has been seriously practiced, studied, and taught for generations.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of An Attempt to Exhaust a Movement by Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, The End of Oulipo ?
So, yeah, I kind of went overboard in the review .....
I continue to be fascinated by the development of the online-publishing/reading model in China -- and at China Buzz Chi Yi writes about China's Online Literature Behemoth (which is apparently Shanda Literature subsidiary Qidian).
Not surprisingly, online writing shares quite a few similarities to print publishing:
But while Qidian has produced several famous writers, the overall quality of the works on the site has been criticized.
Since the system rewards writers based purely on sales, it encourages them to pander to the maximum number of people with entertaining, but formulaic storylines.
For instance, a typical Qidian novel will feature uniformly gorgeous female characters that will inevitably fall for the hero, who is so powerful and talented that he defeats all his foes with ease.
Apparently the founder of Qidian wants to set up a competing site now; I look forward to seeing more coverage about all this.
The Award has two stages: a cash award of $15,000 to the author to be used during the writing or final editing of the book; and the unique second stage, up to $35,000 to be used to promote and distribute the book.
Natan is working with the publishing house to customize a publicity, marketing, distribution, and programmatic plan for the book that will leverage Natan's networks within the Jewish community and ensure that the book reaches broad, new, and diverse audiences.
Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau is the publisher of the winning title, so the book already has good backing, but the additional funds will no doubt prove very helpful.
In this modern-day literary prize-culture -- where prizes take the place of reviews and other official seals of approval -- is this the next step, with not just cash for the author, but actual (and pretty significant) support for winning books, going way beyond the 'prize-winner'-stickers that can be put on book-covers ?
The name Pluh is Czech for "Plough", and is pronounced like the Dutch word "Ploeg", which also means plough.
Yes, they're based in the Netherlands, so ... but, yeah: worst explanation of anything, ever .....
A few interesting titbits: Miloš Urban's The Seven Churches has sold over 60,000 copies in Spain and Latin America, for example (not quite so many in English, I suspect).
And Patrik Ouředník's: "Europeana is the most translated book since the revolution" (even as the author remains "suspect" in the Czech Republic itself).
Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek's ACFNY Translation Prize-winning work, Her Not All Her -- published in The Cahiers Series -- is being launched in the US at an event at McNally Jackson in New York on Wednesday (5 June), at 19:00, with translator Damion Searls and Katie Kitamura.
(Jelinek, who doesn't travel well or far, won't be in the vicinity; on the other hand, Kitamura's husband Hari Kunzru probably will be.)
Writers might want to reconsider penning those first- and other drafts of their books on their computers and instead (re)turn to literally penning them: the handwritten sort may offer a better pay-off, long term (okay, maybe only the heirs get to reap the rewards, but still ...).
Case in point: as, for example, reported at artdaily, Sotheby's London to offer one of the most important 20th century literary manuscripts in private hands, as the owners of the original draft of Beckett's Murphy will apparently be cashing in very nicely:
Handwritten in six exercise books between August 1935 and June 1936, in Dublin and London whilst Beckett was undergoing psychoanalysis, the manuscript, initially entitled "Sasha Murphy" is heavily revised throughout -- the hundreds of cancellations and revisions providing an eloquent witness to Beckett's struggle to give form to his artistic vision.
The notebooks are also full of lively doodles hinting at the author's preoccupations during this period, including recognisable portraits of James Joyce, Beckett himself, and Charlie Chaplin (later an influence on the tramps in Waiting for Godot), as well as astrological symbols and musical notations.
The centrepiece in Sotheby’s sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, the manuscript is estimated to realise £800,000 - £1.2 million.
I hope there's a facsimile edition in the works, too.
They've (apparently) announced the Commonwealth prizes -- the Commonwealth Book Prize (which now, so disappointingly, is simply a 'first book' prize) and Short Story Prize -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked ......
But Charlotte Williams reports at The Bookseller that O'Donnell wins Commonwealth Book Prize (and Eliza Robertson and Sharon Miller were jointly awarded the Commonwealth Short Story Prize).
The winning (book) title is The Death of Bees; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In Al-Ahram Weekly David Tresilian reports that 'Turkey was the market focus at last week’s London Book Fair, marking growing Western interest in the literature of this Middle Eastern country', in Turkey triumphant.
Turkey also has a presence at BookExpo America -- sizeable, but I'm not sure it really ... spoke to the audience.
See also the Index of Turkish Literature under Review at the complete review.