The Prix des libraires du Québec is a French-language literary prize (well prizes, in several categories), and it's always interesting to see what they look at on the other side of the Atlantic (québécois writing, for one thing, which doesn't attract too much attention in France proper ...).
They've now announced their longlists (well, 'listes préliminaires').
The Catégorie Roman québécois introduces many works ... well, which we haven't heard much about.
Meanwhile, the Catégorie Roman hors Québec covers everything from a recent Man Booker winner (Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries) to a work by a Nobel laureate (a Toni Morrison) to an Elena Ferrante and Michel Houellebecq's Submission and, oh dear, Andri Snær Magnason's LoveStar.
They've announced the (American) National Book Awards, with Fortune Smiles (by Adam Johnson) winning the fiction prize, and Between the World and Me (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) taking the non category.
Having read -- indeed, seen -- none of the twenty finalists in the four categories, I'm not well-positioned to comment.
The Hans Christian Andersen Litteraturpris -- not (sigh) to be confused with the Hans Christian Andersen Award -- has announced its 2016 award-winner (though not yet at the official site, last I checked ...), and it's ... Murakami Haruki; see The Japan Times report, Murakami joins ranks of Rowling, Rushdie in winning Danish literary prize.
This relatively new prize -- Murakami is only the fifth winner of what is now a biennial prize -- is the most unabashedly populistic of the better-known international author prizes, with a line-up of previous winners made up of: Paulo Coelho (2007), J.K.Rowling (2010), Isabel Allende (2012), and Salman Rushdie (2014).
I suspect this honor doesn't do much -- indeed, is more likely to severely undermine -- whatever Nobel chances and hopes Murakami had: the nearby Swedish Academy is bound to take note, and it's hard to believe they would give the prize to anyone in such award-winner company (Rushdie was a contender through about 1994, and still deserves some feigned consideration for his admirable free-speech support, but the quality of his fiction over the past two decades surely has put him far out of any serious Nobel-running; as to Coelho, Allende, and Rowling ... well, their writing ... says it all, doesn't it ?).
This is the prize with five categories -- novel, first novel, biography, poetry, and children's -- where they select a winner in each category (announced 4 January), with those five then pitted against one another for the title of Whitbread Costa Book of the Year (announced 26 January).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Zoran Živković's bibliophile sextet, The Library.
Bonus: the slim and sleek Kurodahan Press edition is appealingly pocket-sized -- making this in every respect the ideal little gift for any book-lover.
The New York Times reports that Nobel Winner Svetlana Alexievich Books to Be Published by Random House, as three old and newer works by the Voices from Chernobyl-author will be published "in the coming years".
Aside from the recent Second-Hand Time -- which Fitzcarraldo nabbed UK rights for -- they're also publishing what I assume will be a new translation of her mega-selling (in the Soviet Union) War's Unwomanly Face; this has 'long' been available in English -- but only in a (Soviet) Progress Publishers edition; yeah, not many of those in circulation (get your copy, supposedly from Amazon.com for US$3,500.00 or from Amazon.co.uk for a ... bargain £999.11 (last I checked ...)).
The French prix du Meilleur livre étranger is their one prize solely for foreign literature, awarding a prize for a work of fiction, and a work of non -- and they've announced that: Martin Amis et Christoph Ransmayr, lauréats du Prix du Meilleur livre étranger 2015.
Yes, Amis' The Zone of Interest beat out ... well, Marilynne Robinson's Lila and a recent Javier Cercas, among others.
More interesting is Christoph Ransmayr's Atlas of an Anxious Man, which I've mentioned before as possibly being the book to put him back on the US/UK map -- it's due out from Seagull in English next month, and I for one am very much looking forward to it; see the Seagull publicity page (at the University of Chicago Press; I can't find one on site yet), or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ellen Wiles' look at Literary Life in Myanmar Under Censorship and in Transition, in Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts, just out from Columbia University Press, and a welcome look at the local literary scene.
Amusingly, on the very day I post the review Kanin Srimaneekulroj profiles one of the authors profiled by Wiles, in the Bangkok Post, writing about Myay Hmone Lwin and his NDSP publishing house in A step towards literary freedom.
To fit all the books in the allotted space, the library will have to abandon its version of the Dewey Decimal System, in which shelving is organized by subject, in favor of a new "high-density" protocol in which all that matters is size.
Books will be stacked by height and tracked by bar code rather than by a subject-based system, making for some odd bookfellows.
Apparently this system is all the rage, and I suppose in an automated world it makes sense.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martin Millar's The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies -- featuring, in it ancient Athenian setting, Aristophanes and Socrates (and Plato, as a young tyke).
(A) major programme to share the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1714 to 1914.
The collection, which spans at least 22 South Asian languages and millions of pages, is the most significant held anywhere outside the Subcontinent.
Many of the books are unique and many are also in delicate condition due to their age, so the mass digitisation of these items will not only make them widely available to people around the world, but will also help preserve the fragile originals for future generations.
They've announced the 2015 shortlist for the Guardian first book award, and that feature -- in which the authors introduce their work, along with brief extracts of each, is a pretty good overview/introduction.
None of these titles are under review at the complete review.
The Friedrich Ulfers Prize "honors individuals who have championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States", and they've announced that the 2016 prize will go to translator Burton Pike; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
He'll get the US$5,000 award on 25 February 2016, at the opening of the Festival Neue Literatur in New York.
As the end of the year approaches (but, hey, it's still like almost seven weeks away ...) the 'best of the year'-lists begin to proliferate.
More fun than the institutional ones (Publishers Weekly, Amazon, etc.) are the ones where individual authors and critics select their favorites -- and , better yet, the ones they think are overrated.
The Spectator offers some of that with the first batch of their Books of the Year: the best and most overrated of 2015, with a fine cast of selectors -- but far too few who are willing to go on record with what they think is overrated .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Novel of the Fox Sisters, Hubert Haddad's Rochester Knockings -- a French novel, much of which takes place in Rochester NY, now published in English by Rochester-based Open Letter (and a welcome dose of the prolific but grievously under-translated Haddad's work in English).
The Premio Cervantes is the leading Spanish-language author prize, and they've announced that Fernando del Paso has won the 2015 prize.
As you can see from that list of previous winners, they do a pretty good job of selecting the most worthy authors, and he is certainly a fine choice; apparently among the other contenders this year were Ricardo Piglia, A Thousand Deaths Plus One-author Sergio Ramírez, and Ida Vitale.
Dalkey Archive Press has published two of Fernando del Paso's great novels, Palinuro of Mexico and News from the Empire (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk); both are highly recommended.
What used to be the AKO Literatuurprijs is now the ECI Literatuurprijs; regardless, the €50,000 prize remains one of the biggest Dutch fiction prizes -- and they've announced that Het hout, by Jeroen Brouwers, takes this year's prize.
See the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page on the book.
Brouwers' Sunken Red was published in English quite a while back (from Peter Owen in the UK), but seems to have sunk out of print ages ago too; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the nine-title longlist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature -- which is:
the first pan-African prize that is open solely to debut fiction writers of African citizenship and has now established itself as the most prestigious literary prize for African fiction.
I'm not so sure about that last bit, but admirably they've at least expanded the field: apparently no longer do the submitted titles have to be written in English (just available in English ...) -- which means a very worthy title such as Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila made the longlist.
The nine titles were selected from: "a field of over 100 titles submitted from across the continent" -- though regrettably we are not informed what those titles are.
It's also a bit disappointing to see that six of the nine finalists are by South African authors, and that only three nations are represented on the longlist (which seems rather few for a prize with pan-African aspirations).
And pity the poor judges now, who: "have the task of selecting a shortlist of three at a retreat in the Seychelles in December".
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Ōe Kenzaburō's just-translated Death by Water.
Good to see this in English, though it's a bit disappointing that far from all of Ōe's books have made it into English -- including さようなら、私の本よ !, yet another novel featuring his alter ego Kogito Choko; of the half-dozen Choko-novels only The Changeling and now Death by Water (the first and fifth) have been translated into English so far.
The Goldsmiths Prize -- £10,000 awarded to: "a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best" -- has announced that the 2015 prize goes to Beatlebone, by Kevin Barry.
See the publicity pages from Doubleday (this US edition is coming out just next week) and Canongate, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Oceanos - Prêmio de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa is Brazil-based but open to any Portuguese-language literature.
Really open: admirably, and like every literary prize should (but far too few do ...), it reveals all the books in the running for the prize -- in this case 592 submissions (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) (putting the Man Booker to shame both in the number of titles considered, and in its openness in admitting what those titles are).
The 100,000 reais (a bit more than US$25,000, currently) prize has a decent track record: winners include Gonçalo M. Tavares (2007, with Jerusalem) and Chico Buarque (2010).
They've now announced this year's fourteen finalists (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) (and Buarque again is in the running).
The Jan Michalski Prize for Literature honors (with CHF 50,000) a work: "of fiction or non fiction, irrespective of the language in which it is written" annually; Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's The Colonel won in 2013.
They are unfortunately not very good about getting the word out, and I missed the announcements (if there were any ...) of both the first and the second selections of the jury -- and now also the announcement of the three finalists.
Two non-fiction titles are in the remaining running, a book by this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade-winner, Navid Kermani, and Mark Thompson's Danilo Kiš-biography, Birth Certificate (see the Cornell University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
The other finalist is by another German-writing author, Bagdad Marlboro, by Najem Wali -- subtitled: 'A novel for Bradley Manning'.
They've announced that the C$100,000 (Canadian) Giller Prize goes to Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis; see the Coach House Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
It does sound quite fun; I will try to have a look at it.
The biennial £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing, awarded: "for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language" -- this year on the theme of "'instinct', the unspoken and deep-lying motivation for good deeds and evil acts" --, has announced that the 2015 winner is Redeployment, a story-collection by Phil Klay.