The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Boris Vian's 1947 novel in Oulipo-man Stanley Chapman's translation, Froth on the Daydream, now re-issued -- for movie tie-in purposes (that would be Michel Gondry's film version, starring Audrey Tautou) as Mood Indigo.
Multiple translations !
Multiple titles !
What fun !
Let me see if I can draw up a timetable to give you an idea of the odd overlaps here:
John Sturrock reviews L'écume des jours in the Times Literary Supplement (1964)
Stanley Chapman's translation of L'écume des jours is published, as Froth on the Daydream (1967)
John Sturrock reviews Froth on the Daydream in the TLS (1967)
John Sturrock's translation of L'écume des jours is published, as Mood Indigo (1968)
Stanley Chapman's translation is re-issued as ... Mood Indigo (UK/Serpent's Tail, 2013; US/FSG 2014)
(And if that isn't enough, Tam Tam Books published Brian Harper's translation, as Foam of the Daze, in 2003.)
(And, yes, I am disappointed the TLS didn't get Stanley Chapman to review John Sturrock's translation .....)
None of which should stop you from taking a look at the book -- a head-spinning trip, in any case, so what's a little more head-spinning confusion ?
Everybody seems to be talking to Old Filth-author Jane Gardam: the current issue of The New Yorker has a nice little (paywalled) Talk of the Town-piece by Lauren Collins, and now in The New York Times Roslyn Sulcas also meets the author, in Days of Imperial Pleasures and Regrets.
I still have a small pile of Gardam books to get to, including the new The Stories of Jane Gardam (see the Europa editions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- the kind of books I like keeping in reserve, reliably good reads that I can always turn to when all else fails.
George Orwell was, as you no doubt well know, born in Motihari, in Bihar, India.
Okay, maybe you don't remember -- you wouldn't be alone, and that might be one of the reasons his birthplace has fallen into ... disrepair over the years.
Still, they've been working on doing something with it, and the Times of India now reports that Renovation of George Orwell's house in Bihar begins.
(A good thing, too, as apparently in the meantime: "Orwell's birthplace was mainly targeted by encroachers".)
For more background -- and well worth watching in any case: the documentary Orwell ... ! but why ... ? on YouTube.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Geoff Dyer's 1993 novel, The Search, finally brought to the US, by Graywolf.
(They also just brought out his first novel, The Colour of Memory, and while my review of that went up fifteen years ago I did take this occasion to add/update lots of other-review information and links.)
Preferring and valuing fiction much and always over non, I've always been rather disappointed that Dyer shifted most of his attention away from fiction.
I can understand that a book like his recent Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush can be an easier sell (though I can't imagine anything less interesting -- except the other thousand 'hot' non-fiction titles of the summer ...), and I admire writers who don't force the issue, turning away from churning out books just because that's what they've done previously or recognizing that they don't have another story in them, but I still wonder what would have become of Dyer if he had gone all in with fiction-writing .....
Amélie Nothomb's twenty-second straight rentrée appearance, this year with Pétronille
Windows on the World-author Frédéric Beigbeder returns to US-territory, with Oona & Salinger -- Oona being, of course, Nobel laureate Eugene O'Neill's kid, who went on to marry Charlie Chaplin (but not before dating, yes, that Salinger, J.D. himself); see the Grasset publicity page.
I assume someone has already bought the US rights ... oh, what am I saying ? Gilles Leroy's Zelda Fitzgerald-novel Alabama song even won the prix Goncourt (2007) and doesn't seem to have been translated yet; Americans don't seem to trust French authors all that much with fictional depictions of well-known American figures .....
Maybe Patrick Deville -- whose Plague and Cholera at least made it to the UK ... -- will have more luck with his Viva, intersecting lives of Trotsky and Malcolm Lowry in his novel.
I don't know what the hell Emmanuel Carrère is up to with Le Royaume -- 640 pages on ... the early days (30-80 A.D.) of Christianity.
Other authors with works to look forward to: Dany Laferrière, Pascal Quignard, and Lydie Salvayre
They've announced the winner of this year's Australian Miles Franklin Literary Award, and it is All The Birds, Singing, bringing in another A$50,000 for author Evie Wyld (who, as I mentioned just a week ago, just won the Encore Award, too).
Get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Cervantes-Prize-winning author Ana María Matute has passed away; see, for example, the obituaries in The Washington Post and at the BBC.
Some of her work has been translated into English, but most does not appear very readily available; you might want to try for Celebration in the Northwest -- see also the University of Nebraska Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In the short review in (the pre-Tanenhaus) The New York Times Book Review William Ferguson wrote:
Ana Maria Matute belongs to the generation of Spanish writers who began to publish around 1950, when the repressive atmosphere of Franco's Spain joined with the fatalism of Old Castile to produce some truly merciless fiction.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bogotá39-author Guadalupe Nettel's debut-in-English collection, Natural Histories.
(It's a perfectly fine, even good book, but I find yet again that the appeal of the short story form remains very limited to me.
I have few genre-issues -- I'll read most anything (though maybe romance novels could put that to the test) -- but as far as form goes, I'm all long, long form.
I can appreciate a well-turned story (Borges, Ozick, Monterroso, Krzhizhanovsky, Lydia Davis etc. etc. ...) or collection, but novels remain what feels like infinitely more satisfying.
Give me a choice and I'll pick the novel over the story/collection ninety-nine times out of a hundred.
A story in a magazine ? I almost never bother, even if it's an author I otherwise greatly admire.
I really should look into the reasons for that at some point; it's certainly central to how I 'see' (and hence review) books.)
In the Nigerian Tribune Akintayo Abodunrin reports on a recent panel at the Port Harcourt World Book Capital, focusing on poet J.P.Clark and his comments.
Good to hear that:
Professor Clark wished that more Nigerians will write in their indigenous languages.
But, on the other hand, Clark has no illusions about writing generally:
There are those of your age who believe that poetry is magic, it solves all problems of society.
I am of the other school that poetry does not change a politician.
Today, politics is for winning elections.
You win the seat and instead of sitting down and providing service for the people, the politicians are just about elections.
They waste time instead of applying themselves to the task of serving the people.
You can write all the poetry, they [politicians] won't read you anywhere.
Probably because they didn't go to these great Government Colleges we are talking about.
You can write all the poetry you want to write, it won't change the establishment.
It won't change Nigeria, I'm afraid.
(I'd kind of like to meet some of those folks: "who believe that poetry is magic, it solves all problems of society" .....)
Via I'm pointed to Jabeen Akhtar suggesting The 17 Elements of a (Bad) South Asian Novel at Publishing Perspectives -- an amusing look at the herd mentality of publishers.
(I think this is one of the reasons I am more drawn to fiction in translation from region X than to diasporic fiction written in English -- it tends to be much less formulaic.
(Yes, I can understand the appeal/comfort of the formulaic, but .....))
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second in Anders de la Motte's Game-trilogy, Buzz.
The first installment was a pleasant surprise -- simple thriller fun, but well done -- but it didn't quite carry over.
The Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt is the leading German book award for a work-in-translation (and, at €25,000 for the author of the winning title, and €10,000 for its translator, more remunerative than any of the translation-only English language prizes (Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Best Translated Book Award)), and this year's prize had a pretty impressive shortlist.
They've now announced the winner -- and it is Beate Thill's translation of Dany Laferrière's L'énigme du retour (which has already done well in the prize-winning department elsewhere, including picking up the 2009 prix Médicis).
This has been published in English translation -- as The Return by Douglas & Mcintyre in Canada (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.ca) and as The Enigma of the Return by MacLehose Press in the UK (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk).
In the US ?
Not so much .....
(One reason I haven't seen a copy yet -- though several Laferrière-titles are under review at the complete review, including I am a Japanese Writer.)
Well, less Soviet erotica than the erotica the Soviets officially collected, as Joy Neumeyer goes Inside the Soviet Union's Secret Erotica Collection, the "pornographic treasure trove" across from the Kremlin.
(Okay, "treasure trove" also seems a bit of an exaggeration, at least from the photographic evidence on offer here.
Still, J.G.Ballard's Crash (albeit in some dubious company) .....)
Via I learn of Saudamini Jain collecting the (fifty-four) 'Greatest Indian Novels ever' at the Hindustan Times -- see part I and part II.
A jury of eight each selected their top ten (click on the names at the Hindustan Times for each judge's top ten -- interesting different approaches): Amitava Kumar, Chiki Sarkar, David Davidar, Harish Trivedi, Jeet Thayil, Jerry Pinto, Ravi Singh, and Sunil Sethi.
It's a decent, if slightly contemporary- and written-in-English-heavy, selection, but you could do worse for an Indian-starter-list.
Several of the titles are under review at the complete review (as are other titles by quite a few of the authors whose books make the list); see the Index of Indian literature under review, as well as, specifically:
(While connected/related -- and Three Times at Dawn barely novella length -- separate review-coverage seems warranted, since they were originally published separately, and have also been published (and widely reviewed) separately in several translations.)
Mr. Gwyn also contains two of my favorite sentences from this year's reading.
First, there's the wonderful:
Then they went into the park together, to take Martha Argerich to shit.
(Yes, I admire any author that can work a sentence like that into a novel -- as Baricco does very well here.)
And then there's this, which I like for very different (but, I assume, understandable) reasons:
Maybe reading thousands of books isn't so useless, she thought.
The American Library of Congress has an exhibit on A Thousand Years of the Persian Book 27 March through 20 September, and that looks pretty good.
Not much American media coverage, however -- no major-paper reviews I could find.
Some decent information at the Library of Congress exhibit site, at least, with quite a few separate pages; see, for example, the one on Modern and Contemporary Literature -- though here, for example, you have to wonder how well anyone will connect 'Maḥmūd Dawlat‘ābādī' with the author of, say, The Colonel (though the Kelidar mention is, of course, good to see).
Books by quite a few of the modern and women writers exhibited here are under review at the complete review; see the index of Persian and Iranian literature under review.
(Updated - 24 June): Okay, that's pretty good timing: in the Wall Street Journal Lee Lawrence now has a look at the show, in The World As Scripted in Persia (that link may be paywalled; if so, just click on this search result, which should get you in).
In The Age Jane Sullivan reports on efforts to Support Australian authors, trying to drum up support (as government funding dries up ...) for local authors.
There is a lingering cultural cringe that claims we don't do these things as well as the Americans, or the British, or the Europeans.
With a handful of exceptions, a country with a small population will probably produce fewer great writers.
But Australian writers in the main are better than the cultural cringers think, and that expectation of inferiority might be dissipated if enough people actually read our books.
I've got to wonder ... if that "expectation of inferiority" hasn't dissipated by now ... well....
And while the call to purchase more books by Australian authors seems reasonable (hell, I'd love to be able to get my hands on more books by Australian (and New Zealand, etc.) authors), it really seems state action here would be more helpful -- support for local publishers and authors, purchases for libraries, etc.
See also the index of Australian literature under review at the complete review, if you need some suggestions.
South Africa is celebrating 20 Years of Freedom, and some of the celebrations are also literary.
So, for example, they're trying to determine: "the best South African short stories published in English during the past two decades of democracy" (yes, disappointingly with that 'published-in-English' caveat (as South Africa is apparently such a monoglot country that any other languages are easy to ignore ... sigh)).
At BooksLIVE they now announce the fifty stories from which the 'Twenty in 20' best will be selected (to be announced 21 July).
Several of the longlisted authors have books under review at the complete review, but only one of the stories is: the title piece from Ivan Vladislavić's The Loss Library.
Sounds good: in The Sun Ijeoma Opone and Christiana Eke report that Three African presidents to attend Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, which is a better turn-out than you get for most literary prizes.
Indeed, the shindig looks to be particularly well-attended this year -- it being Soyinka's 80th probably helps.
Still, the prize goes to a dramatist this year ... not the highest-profile writers.
Siegfried Lenz is still with us, but at 89 is thinking about his legacy, and so he's forming a Siegfried Lenz foundation -- and they've now announced that one of the things they'll be doing is awarding an annual prize; see, for example, Armgard Seegers and Thomas Andre's report in Die Welt.
An author prize (this being Germany, where author prizes are much more popular that book prizes), worth a tidy €50,000 (which puts it in the top tier of German literary prizes, financially speaking), it is apparently open to all authors (German- and other-writing), as long as the writing is consistent with the spirit of Lenz's own writing.
Something like that, anyway -- we should see soon enough: the first winner will collect the prize in November
My great hope is that this prize will quickly become known as 'the Siggi'.
(Okay: 'der Siggi'.)
Lenz's work has been translated, on and off, into English -- the most (and only) recent work being A Minute's Silence (published in the US as Stella, because ... well ...).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second Shin Kyung-Sook novel to make it into English, I'll Be Right There.
Knopf brought out Please Look After Mom in the US (in the UK, it was published as Please Look After Mother, because ...), but despite it being touted as the first from-the-Korean break-out title, Other Press nabbed the follow-up.
I.e. Knopf's enthusiasm/commitment seems to have been ... limited.
Interesting also that while (somewhat understandably) avoiding the Korean title, the English title shifts completely from the almost anticipatory original (어디선가 나를 찾는 전화벨이 울리고, which is pretty much where the story starts) to the very end (as, in fact, the English title is the sentence with which the book concludes).