There was a good deal of Svetlana Alexievich-coverage when it was announced that she was this year's Nobel literature laureate (see, my previous mention) but not too much of particular interest since -- but now Masha Gessen has a longer profile in The New Yorker, The Memory Keeper: The oral histories of Russia's new Nobel laureate, the best introduction/overview of the author to date.
There are also some choice quotes, including:
Now that her books are openly sold in Belarus, she has readers, but "readers can give you nothing but banalities."
Not that she doesn't like her readers -- she just does not want to talk to them. "I'm not interested in people as such," she said.
The Augustpriset is the major (domestic) Swedish book prize, and they've now announced the finalists in the various categories.
Several of the authors with books that are in contention for the fiction prize have had other works translated into English, including Aris Fioretos (e.g. The Truth about Sascha Knisch),Jonas Hassen Khemiri (e.g. Montecore), and John Ajvide Lindqvist.
In The Hindu Tishani Doshi has a Q & A with popular Japanese author Yoshimoto Banana which is about as upbeat as the headline: 'If I were young today, I might have already killed myself'.
Still, aside from the unusual disclosures -- "I personally enjoy horror movies, especially Italian horror movies" -- some interesting odds and ends, including:
Given the contemporary context in Japan, do you think writers should become more directly political ?
The society in Japan makes it difficult to write politically.
If I wrote directly espousing any kind of political idea or political group, then the leader of this group will come to me and begin a dialogue and ask questions.
And it will never stop from there.
"Translation is everything," remarked John McGlynn, the chairman of the Jakarta-based Lontar Foundation, a small outfit that has painstakingly struggled to introduce Indonesia to the world by translating works by Indonesian writers.
(I have a nice big pile of the wonderful titles in Lontar's Modern Library of Indonesia -- some already reviewed, with more reviews to follow; see all the Indonesian titles under review at the complete review in the index of South East Asian literature.)
Regretably, it's not all smooth sailing:
McGlynn is not all that optimistic about the future [...]
McGlynn's doubts about the way bureaucracy works is not unfounded: He had a bitter experience working with the government in preparing the translations for Frankfurt.
The 2015:2 Issue of Swedish Book Review is now (partially) available online -- a few articles and excerpts and, more importantly, all the (many) reviews, a great overview of a good selection of recent Swedish writing.
The October issue of Asymptote is now available online -- wonderfully wide-ranging as always, with fiction, non, poetry, and drama (!), translated from languages ranging from Armenian through Sindhi to Uyghur and Vietnamese, as well as interviews and reviews.
All of it is well worth checking out, but if you need some prodding to get started, how about Roland Glasser on translating Fiston Mwanza Mujila's Tram 83 (see also my review of the book) ?
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pierre Lemaitre's The Great Swindle -- the 2013 prix Goncourt winner, which is now available (under this very different title) in English.
They've announced the finalists for the 2015 (American) National Book Awards; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
Sorry, none of the finalists are under review at the complete review.
The winners will be announced 18 November.
They've announced the nominees for the 2015 South African Literary Awards -- which includes several awards for writing in languages other than English, and lifetime achievement awards for Antjie Krog, Achmat Dangor, and Thokozani Madlenkosi Nene.
A few days ago I mentioned that Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969, by Frank Witzel, had won this year's German Book Prize, and now at Deutsche Welle Silke Bartlick explains Why Frank Witzel unexpectedly, but deservedly won Germany's highest literary accolade.
As I also mentioned, I was very pleased to get a copy last week -- and lucky, too, apparently: despite the shortlisting publisher Matthes & Seitz felt they had to play it safe with the over-800-page book and shied away from another printing before the prize announcement.
The result ?
The book is out of stock -- though of course the rush-job next printing is in the works now, and distribution will resume 22 October; see the report at boersenblatt
They report that about 9,000 copies have been sold to date, and the next printing is for 20,000; they should still be able to reap a nice (and deserved) windfall, even with the slight delivery-delay.
As widely reported, they've announced the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and it goes to A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James.
See also the publicity pages at Oneworld and Riverhead, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Amazon has announced that AmazonCrossing Announces $10 Million Commitment to Translating Books into English -- explaining that this: "investment will go toward fees paid to translators over the next five years and increasing the countries and languages represented on the AmazonCrossing list" (though it's unclear exactly what this means ...)
If any US/UK publisher/imprint can be said to churn out translations, it's AmazonCrossing, consistently the top (numbers-wise ...) publisher of translations in the US (by a fairly wide margin -- Dalkey Archive is the only one anywhere near them in total output).
So, for example, there are: "77 titles from 15 countries and 12 languages to be published in the United States in 2015" by them.
Prorated over 77 titles/year, the new investment works out to just over US$25,000 per -- though presumably they plan to publish more titles, spreading the money more thinly.
How much of that would go to translators is unclear (as, indeed, is most everything about this 'investment').
Still, it sounds impressive, and Amazon definitely fills an otherwise underrepresented part of the translation market -- not just schlock, mind you, but definitely schlock-heavy (which I approve of and appreciate), but with quite a few titles of serious interest, too; see, for example, the AmazonCrossing titles under review at the complete review.
In conjunction with this -- or maybe that's what they spent the $10 million on ? -- they've now established a Propose a book for translation-page -- and I'm very curious to hear how that will work out.
(It's certainly hard not to guffaw at the explanation: "Using an Amazon account ensures the information that you share is kept secure" (secure from who/what, exactly ?).)
See also Susan Bernofsky's commentary at her Translationista weblog -- and no doubt many more translators (and, surely/I hope Chad Post, at Three Percent) will be weighing in once anyone figures out what this might all be about, and what it might mean for translators (and readers).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of author (and Adelphi-publisher -- sort of the antithesis of AmazonCrossing) Roberto Calasso's The Art of the Publisher, due out shortly from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (in the US) and Penguin (in the UK).
The imitation-Man Booker German Book Prize has established itself as the most prestigious German ... uh, book prize (though its €25,000 prize isn't even the richest German book prize whose winner was named in the last week -- that would be the Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis, which announced last week that Clemens J. Setz will get their €30,000-payday (albeit only 1 November, at the official ceremony)) and they've now announced that Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969, by Frank Witzel, takes this year's prize.
I just got my (print) copy a few days ago, and I have to say it looks damn good (and massive -- 800+pp) -- lots of playful variety (including chapters in dialogue, a Marat/Sade-variation, a chapter in the form of a questionnaire -- and a fourteen-page index), which all looks like it's right up my alley.
It was already high on the get-to list, but it's moved even higher now.
See also the Matthes & Seitz publicity page.
In this week's issue of The New Yorker Ed Park writes about 'Reading Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature', in Sorry not Sorry, a good overview of the series, and providing good context for it.
Many of the titles he mentions, both in the series and aside from it, are under review at the complete review (and I'll be getting to a lot more of the Dalkey titles).
Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses has long been available in a Czech translation, but they've now published a new translation -- and the Saudis, trying to shift attention from all the messes they currently have on their own plate, decided to take umbrage (because, apparently, Rushdie's book -- which it would appear they have not read -- is the only one that's offensive to Muslims ... (in fact, of course, it's the only one whose title is widely recognized in the circles they're addressing as ostensibly offensive to Muslims, and so it will do as (apparently eternal) stand-in)).
As Reuters reported Saudi Arabia protests over Czech 'Satanic Verses' 27 years after uproar, summoning the Czech ambassador and asking him to: "try and halt its publication".
(As it turns out, they lodged their complaint rather late in the day: "Prague-based literary publisher Paseka told Reuters it had not heard of any complaint, and its 5,000-strong print run of the book, released in April, had already almost sold out" -- but, desperate for distractions, the Saudis (in)conveniently only seem to have become aware of this potential-source-of-outrage now.)
After what I imagine was lots of laughter at the absurdity of the request/demand, the Czech government has made clear, as The Prague Post reports, that Prague won't block 'Satanic Verses' translation.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tip Marugg's The Roar of Morning, now available in Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters series.
This is the first novel from Curaçao under review at the complete review.
Tomorrow at 13:00 EST Book of Numbers-author Joshua Cohen is beginning a five-day live writing of "a reinterpretation of Charles Dickens' first serialized novel, The Pickwick Papers", PCKWCK.
The official site promises:
Every day from 1pm-6pm EST visitors to www.PCKWCK.com will be able to watch Cohen write in real time, offer feedback that may affect the outcome of the novel, and talk with Cohen and other readers in a chat room.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Russian author Eugene Vodolazkin's prize-winning Laurus, now available in English in a translation by Lisa 'Lizok's Bookshelf' Hayden, from Oneworld.