(I)t is high time some of the lost values in this generation were tactfully inculcated using oral literature; patience, tolerance, chastity, love and even kindness.
Looking upon today's society, it is these values that are missing.
Maybe this is why tribalism is rife, coastal youths are turning extremism, HIV and Aids is scaling new heights and crime is a way of life.
(Is it really necessary (or in any way helpful) to frame the debate in this way ?)
The Nigeria International Book Fair -- "NIBF, as abbreviatedly called", as they helpfully suggest at the official site -- runs from tomorrow through Saturday: "a well-packaged, well-organised, the biggest and the consistent book event in Africa today".
Glad to see there's some media coverage -- but I'm not sure headlines such as Nigeria book fair drags foreign publishers, printers to Lagos (as Simeon Mpamugoh reports in The Sun) make it sound as tempting as it should be.
Dalkey Archive Press settled at Illinois State University in 1992 and stuck it out there through 2006; for a while they intended to move on to the University of Rochester, but that fell through (which turned out to work out well, since that gave us Open Letter Books), heading to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign instead.
After less than a decade there they are relocating again, as Dalkey Archive Press announces relocation to UHV.
(Confusingly, the Dalkey Archive archive went to Columbia University in 2012 -- and they also have offices in London and Dublin)
That would be the University of Houston-Victoria, Texas (yeah, I hadn't ever heard of it either) -- which happens also to be the home of another former Illinois State University-alum, the American Book Review.
I have no idea what ramifications such an office-move might have, but given that I rely on them for so many of the books I review (well over a hundred Dalkey titles are currently under review at the complete review) as long as they keep churning out the same kind of stuff, I really don't care much.
(But it would be nice if they finally got their web-presence a bit better organized: the About-page (and lack of any information about the impending move ...) pretty much sum things up .....)
They've announced that Catherine Schelbert will receive the 2015 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of Hugo Ball's Flametti, or The Dandyism of the Poor published by Wakefield Press -- a great choice.
(See also the Wakefield Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
One of my favorite things about this prize is that they reveal all the titles in the running (as every literary prize should) -- making it also a great resource to see what's been translated from German into English in any given year.
The list of 2015 submissions is noteworthy both for how few submissions there were -- twenty-one (compared to more than fifty in 2014, for example) -- and the fact that a stunning nine of those twenty-one were from a single publisher -- Seagull Books.
Yes, a publisher based in India dominates translation-from-the German-into-English.
Headlines don't get much more depressing than this: in The Moscow Times Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber reports that More Than 80% of Russians Favor State Censorship of Literature, Film, Art.
Yes, the good news is that: "56 percent of the Russian population think bans on theater productions, films and other artistic creations are unacceptable" -- but a little censorship, that's apparently okay with the vast majority.
82 percent of Russians agree with the state's control of films, books, theater productions and art exhibits.
Respondents in favor of state censorship frequently said it was needed to prevent the injurious effects of works of art containing violent, vulgar or immoral episodes on society.
Praise the Soviet legacy, saving contemporary Russians from themselves !
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marah Rusli's 1922 novel, Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized, yet another volume in Lontar's Modern Library of Indonesia, and a nice little discovery.
The Literaturpreis des Kulturkreises der deutschen Wirtschaft -- the literary prize of the 'Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries', as they apparently style themselves -- is certainly among the odder German literary prizes.
Sort of like if the (US) Chamber of Commerce had a cultural wing, and gave out prizes (and money !) to young artistic talents.
(Yes, I know the very idea is too comically absurd for my American readers to even wrap their heads around ... these wacky Europeans !)
But they actually do very impressive work, and offer some nice support -- and they've announced that Juja- (and Das achte Leben (Für Brilka) -- which is coming out in English translation !) author Nino Haratischwili has been awarded the €20,000 prize this year.
I do not believe in "emerging voices" or "emerging market countries".
Having spent enough of my life in contrived categories, I uphold the vision of just one world.
Amen to that (and with its wonderful national eligibility definition -- "defined by the World Bank Atlas Method (i.e. those with a GNI per capita of less than $12,746" -- the prize was really setting itself up for this reaction.)
(I do note, however, that his complaint about passport/proof of nationality-requirements isn't well-informed -- European and North American (and other) artists are indeed "interrogated in the same way" for quite a few national-limited prizes (with the Man Booker one of the few to have made the question moot by finally, sensibly giving up on any citizenship requirement).)
The English translation of Sergio Ramírez's 1988 novel, Divine Punishment, was launched yesterday at a PEN World Voices/Americas Society event.
As I've mentioned, the book actually got a lot of good US media coverage when it first came out in Spanish -- see the profiles in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times -- and was slated for 1990 publication in the US.
But the Sandinistas lost the 1990 elections, Ramírez -- Nicaragua's vice-president since 1985 -- was no longer a hot political figure, the editor at his American publisher left, and they dropped the book.
(Neither Ramírez nor his translator, Nick Caistor, were sure of who exactly the publisher had been -- a few names were bandied about, but the foolish outfit not definitively identified.)
Caistor had actually translated the book back then -- but all traces of hard- and disk-copies were lost in the ensuing mess, and he actually translated it again, for the now available -- from McPherson & Co. -- edition.
Ramírez described how he wrote the book, even though he was kept rather busy in his official capacity at the time -- rising at four in the morning (with the help of his wife -- someone to wake him, and push him out of bed ...), and working for a few hours before he switched to a completely different frame of mind.
Among the amusing titbits: he did write the book on a computer -- an IBM that came to him via Canada and Madrid (with the US embargoing Nicaragua, computers were impossible to get from or via the US at the time) -- using the old Symphony (DOS) program.
The book took up 20 (!) floppy disks -- ah, the good old days of data storage -- which, of course, are now essentially unreadable (the necessary hardware hardly exists any longer); he donated them to a Spanish literary museum.
Back in 1988 the book got a rave from Carlos Fuentes -- a rave published just as Fuentes was picking up his Premio Cervantes, the highest Spanish literary honor.
Ramírez was in town for the ceremony, as were many of Fuentes' foreign publishers; selling foreign rights to the book went very well that week.
(You can catch Ramírez at another PEN World Voices event today, Sergio Ramírez: Journey to the Heart of Literature; the PEN World Voices page notes it's in Spanish but fails to note that the Instituto Cervantes admirably provides simultaneous translation (see the small print), so (just-)English-speakers shouldn't be scared off.
An interesting life, and a very fine writer, so an event well worth checking out.)
Literary times are tough in New Zealand, it seems.
As Belinda Feek reports in The New Zealand Herald:
New Zealand Book Month has been postponed indefinitely as the trust that governs it failed to get funding, the Literary Awards are on hold after BNZ pulled its funding and The New Zealand Book Awards had a shake-up after NZ Post withdrew their funding last year.
Relying on sponsorship is, of course, always risky; sad to see what looks like near-across-the-board cutbacks here.
The boom in online "translators," most of whom have a fragmentary command or none at all of the Chinese language, has added to the bountiful supply of such books.
They generally use software to convert the Chinese versions into awkward Vietnamese stories before clumsily "editing" them into finished "works."
Such "translators" as Yingli, Dennis Q, and Greenrosetq are "venerated" by their fans as much as the Chinese writers themselves
Despite the journalist's disdain ("disdain" ?), surely it's of interest that these "translators" are onto something -- that re-writing machine-translation (of the right material) is good enough to wow the fans.
Obviously, these 'translators' are more (if also rather differently) involved in shaping the final text than is usually the case, but if they're being identified and venerated, they surely must be doing something very right (both in their selection of source material and then their repackaging of it in Vietnamese).
I'm curious whether anything similar will ever happen (or has happened ?) in 'major' languages with a better-established domestic translation/publishing market.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Aleksandar Hemon's just-released new novel, The Making of Zombie Wars.
I've been hoping to cover more English-language/US fiction -- I've been lagging: this is the first American work of fiction I've reviewed in seven months ! -- but this did not help convince me that that would be a good investment of my reading and reviewing time and resources.
The new issue of World Literature Today is (partially) available online, with a focus on 'New Hebrew Writing'.
Most importantly: the World Literature in Review review-section is fully accessible -- always worth a look.
They've announced the winner of this year's Goncourt du premier roman -- the 'first novel'-Goncourt -- and it's yet another prize for The Meursault Investigation, Kamel Daoud's variation on Camus.
It will be available next month in the US (and in two in the UK); see the Other Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
At Grapevine Elliott Brandsma wonder whether in famously book-friendly Iceland there might be Too Many Books: Do Icelandic Publishers Need To Chill Out ?
When there was: "one year when the publishing companies collectively released almost a hundred new cookbooks" (this in a country with a total population of not much more than 300,000) one can argue that the industry/market maybe aren't functioning perfectly .....
Still, I hope they keep it up.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of François Jullien's The Book of Beginnings, a non-fiction work in Yale University Press' always worthwhile Margellos World Republic of Letters-series.
An interesting look at looking at Chinese culture/thought -- with some good discussion of translation-issues along the way.
It was only a matter of computing power and time before someone would try to (re)create what Jorge Luis Borges imagined in his story, 'The Library of Babel' (read it in his Collected Fictions -- since, of course, you should read his collected fiction), and Jonathan Basile has had a pretty good go at it, with libraryofbabel.info.
Overview-articles have been appearing all over -- check out those at Slate, The Guardian, and The Independent -- but the site is fun to check out as well.
That said, it does take quite a bit (a near infinite amount of time, probably ...) of shelf-browsing to stumble across anything that is ... readable.
At Gulf News they report that Winners of Emirates Novel Award honoured (complete with a great lots-of-hands-on-the-prize photograph).
Any local recognition seems like a positive, and maybe it helps get some attention farther afield too -- not too much Emirati fiction making it abroad nowadays .....
(At around US$16,000 the prize isn't huge, but not bad.)
They've announced the 2015-2016 Fellows at the New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers -- a nine-month gig that includes "a stipend of up to $70,000, an office, a computer, and full access to the Library's physical and electronic resources".
Always an interesting group of writers and projects, but most eye-catching this time around are:
Two-time Best Translated Book Award-winner Krasznahorkai László, who: "will be working on a novel about Melville after the publication of Moby Dick".
Bonsai-author Alejandro Zambra, who: "will be working on a book about personal libraries".
While none of her books are under review at the complete review I've read about twenty or so; I have another half dozen in reserve -- I'll generally pick up any mass-market-paperback copy I haven't read that I stumble across at any used bookstore
She is one of those reliable authors one can turn to if nothing else seems to fit the bill at a certain point, and it's always good to have a few spare still unread ones at hand should the need arise.
At The StandardNgũgĩ recalls his literary walk as Weep Not, Child turns 50.
This is apparently: "an adaptation from Ngũgĩís upcoming third memoir titled: The Making of a Dream Weaver: A Makerere Memoir".
I can't find any record of it elsewhere (yet), but that's certainly something I am looking forward to.
Meanwhile, I'm most excited to be able to hear the great author in person at the PEN World Voices opening night event tomorrow !
(Updated - 5 May): A reader points me to the information that the third volume of Ngũgĩís memoirs is forthcoming (alas, only in the fall of 2016) from The New Press (not, like the previous two, Pantheon -- I wonder why ?).
Equally exciting: they'll be publishing: "a new work of fiction, The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikũyũ and Mũmbĩ".
The Tehran International Book Fair opens Tuesday, with President to open 28th Intl. Book Fair, as Hassan Rouhani will be doing the honors.
I look forward to hearing reports from the fair -- and wonder whether there has been an appreciable change in the local literary (atmo)sphere.
And I am kind of curious about the guest of honor -- Oman.
One doesn't hear much about, or see much Omani literature .....
(M.Lynx Qualey has a good introductory look at her Arabic Literature (in English) weblog, Where Are Oman's Authors ?)
In The Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports on the shuttering of Amay Eain (Mother House) bookshop -- "The oldest bookshop on Pansodan Road" --, in Yangon's long-standing bookshop shuts down
The familiar lament:
"The decline in sales is one of the factors behind the closure.
People don't read, they just play with their mobile phones," said owner U Nyi Nyi, gazing disconsolately at the barred accordion gates.
One writer does note: "there are many bookshops still open in Yangon"; one hopes that will remain the case.
This work of Cuban science fiction is due out soon in paperback from Restless Books (it's already available in e-book format, on Kindle, etc.) -- one of the first titles in their ambitious and promising series.
Great to see these being translated into English (and also more widely available in Spanish ...).