Tantalizing stuff from the Harry Ransom Center, where they have Nobel laureate and Slow Man- (etc.) author J.M.Coetzee's archive and where Rebecca Roach reports on The computer poetry of J. M. Coetzee's early programming career -- with a picture of some "computer code poetry, dated May 30, 1965".
Somebody collect and publish this !
Peter Johnston's PhD thesis, on 'Presences of the Infinite': J.M.Coetzee and Mathematics (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) includes a significant section discussing Coetzee's computer poetry -- and reprints the two (very different from the HRC stuff) published ones in an Appendix: 'Computer Poem' (p. 309) and 'Hero and Bad Mother in Epic' (pp. 310-311) -- but see the discussion in the text proper as well.
(The Appendix includes other poems by Coetzee, so it's worth it just for that, too -- not stuff that's easy to find elsewhere.)
Irina Ratushinskaya, a writer sent to the camps very late in the Soviet day (1983 !), has passed away; see Michael Bourdeaux's obituary in The Guardian and Harrison Smith's in The Washington Post.
She is best known for her camp-account, Grey is the Colour of Hope, recently re-issued (along with several of her other works) in the UK (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
No surprise that my preference is for her novel, Fictions and Lies -- get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- because ... well, obviously.
(I still have my copy at hand; maybe I'll get a review up.)
The Three Percent databases are obviously the most useful resource for seeing what gets translated into English every year, but they do have their limitations -- they only cover US published/distributed titles, are limited to fiction and poetry, and exclude new translations of previously translated works -- and so it's good to see they're not the only game in town.
Other databases/listings tend to be even more limited -- generally by language -- but do provide valuable additional information -- such as the just-posted Russian-to-English Translations for 2017 at Lizok's Bookshelf.
(Several of these are already under review at the complete review.)
I missed this a couple of weeks back, but in The Asahi Shimbun Kan Kashiwazaki reported on how Haruki Murakami talks of how he goes with the flow, as there's a new book out (only in Japanese, alas), subtitled: 'Haruki Murakami: A Long, Long Interview by Mieko Kawakami', みみずくは黄昏に飛びたつ; see the Shinchosha publicity page.
Ten hours of intimate interviews with Haruki Murakami that reveal unique insights into the popular novelist's elusive methodology, or eccentric lack of it, have been compiled into a book.
Kawakami herself is an up-and-comer -- with her Ms Ice Sandwich due out from Pushkin Press in a couple months; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; it's certainly something I expect to get to.
Sounds like the Murakami-interview volume would be of interest to US/UK readers as well, so maybe there will be a translation ?
Or are the questions too 'Japanese' for publishers to take a chance on it ... ?
Yes, it's summer, so lots of newspaper (and weblog ...) filler of the 'best summer reads' sort.
At least The Guardian has writers give their suggestions, in their 'Best holiday reads 2017, picked by writers', parts one [updated:] and two.
(And Geoff Dyer gets it right in the latter, selecting Reve's The Evenings and Solstad's Novel 11, Book 18.)
I've only read/reviewed a few of these, but it is a decent variety.
They've announced the shortlist for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year -- with readers apparently able to vote for their favorite, and the winner to be announced on 28 July.
The five titles in the running are:
An Ape's View of Human Evolution
The Commuter Pig-Keeper: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Pigs when Time is your Most Precious Commodity
Nipples on My Knee
Love Your Lady Landscape: Trust Your Gut, Care for "Down There" and Reclaim Your Fierce and Feminine SHE Power
Renniks Australian Pre-Decimal & Decimal Coin Errors: The Premier Guide for Australian Pre-Decimal & Decimal Coin Errors
And, no, none of them are under review at the complete review.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christopher Wilson's new novel, The Zoo, just out (in the UK).
Several other Wilson titles are under review at the complete review -- though I haven't revisited old favorites such as Baa and Fou yet -- but I'm surprised his backlist is largely out of print (though available in his own e-book line).
But good to see he's not entirely overlooked: Moonstone-author Sjón, for example, listed Gallimauf's Gospel among his top 10 island stories at The Guardian a couple of years ago.
The 41st 'Days of German-Language Literature' have started, and, as always, the centerpiece is the read-aloud literary competition, the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis -- and among the competing authors is one who is quite well-known in the US, The Lost Time Accidents-author John Wray.
His text, Madrigal (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) apparently impressed, making him an early prize-favorite.
Shigekuni has a first-day recap (in English).
Soviet/Russian author Daniil Granin has passed away; see, for example, the AP report (here at CBC).
Much of his fiction was of the very documentary kind, and several of his works were published in English translation; The Bison (published by Doubleday in 1990; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) even got a(n 'In Short') review in The New York Times Book Review.
At Russia Beyond the Headlines Anna Sorokina offers a list of 5 must-read novels by Soviet docufiction writer Daniil Granin.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Philippe Djian's Elle -- recently out in English (from Other Press, in the US), but better-known as the basis for the widely acclaimed Paul Verhoeven film, starring Isabelle Huppert.
I am a bit surprised that this hasn't gotten more review-coverage -- though that's also been the case for Djian's other recent books to appear in translation.
Still, a stark contrast to how huge he is in continental Europe.
(Sometimes I think it's all because US/UK publishers and readers simply can't take seriously an author who wrote a six-volume series that he called: Doggy bag (see the Julliard publicity page for the one-volume collected edition).
Of course, the original French title of Elle was ... "Oh ...")
This is the second book that Paul Verhoeven adapted for the screen that I've reviewed this year -- the other being the (also woefully under-covered) new translation of Jan Wolkers' Turkish Delight (which was filmed more than forty years before Elle).
Heinlein's Starship Troopers next ?
A Philip Larkin exhibit, Larkin: New Eyes Each Year opens in Hull today, and with curator Anna Farthing saying: "We've tried to piece together a life from objects rather than from words", it looks ... interesting:
There is his lawnmower, typewriter, stationery, camera, photographs and briefcase.
There are 33 souvenir tea towels, some of which bear comic verses, and a "tree" made of 119 ties.
The Caine Prize for African Writing -- "described as Africa's leading literary award" (so they say, on their site ...) -- is only a short story prize (this year's winning work is all of 3301 words long), but does showcase some fine writing, and they've now announced this year's winning piece, The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away, by Bushra al-Fadil -- which you can read here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
The Caine Prize tends to be Anglophone-writing-heavy -- very heavy -- but this is actually a work in translation, and admirably the translator -- Max Shmookler -- gets a piece of the prize-pie: £3,000, with £7,000 going to the author.
While you can read the story online, it was originally published in The Book of Khartoum -- and surely you want the whole thing, right ?
(Hey, I would -- I haven't seen a copy yet .....)
See the Comma Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The French unleash almost all their major fiction during the 'rentrée littéraire', a month starting in about late August, and the first reports of what's coming are coming out.
The Livres Hebdo special isn't freely accessible online, but their brief overview-introduction is, with the main numbers: there will be 581 novels (up from last year's 560), with 81 debuts (up from 66 last year), and 191 works in translation -- down from last year's 196.
Not much information about the coming titles yet -- but there will be the obligatory annual Amélie Nothomb offering (Frappe-toi le cœur; see the Albin Michel publicity page), while Jean-Philippe Toussaint (another local favorite) is offering Made in China; see the Minuit publicity page.
The author said that he believes the US is full of "pride and prejudice" which leads to only a small fraction of foreign literature being published each year.
Interesting -- but perhaps not entirely surprising -- to hear, from the director of the International Cooperation Department at China Intercontinental Press:
Jiang pointed out that sales in Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina and Chile are much higher than in English-speaking countries
('Much higher' ? Really ? I'd love to see some numbers .....)
They also mention the Chinese Literature Translation Archive at the Bizzell Memorial Library at the University of Oklahoma, which looks pretty cool.
(T)he former Transport Minister and ex-MCA deputy president [Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy] feels that the time has come for his collection to have a greater impact on society instead of just satisfying his personal pleasure.
He decided to donate over 6,000 works -- with the oldest aged more than 200 years -- to his alma mater.
As Chan explains:
This great masterpiece touches on all aspects of life, including religion, literature, linguistics, inter-personal ties, management and others. Its substance is boundless
Some world leaders are known to 'tweet' in order to get their word out, but a few are also still old school, opting for verse instead.
So, for example, Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha: as The Nation (Thailand) reports, Literary PM makes his point poetically.
You can read his poem, 'ประเทศไทย 4.0' ('Thailand 4.0') here, for example.
He does admit:
PM Prayut acknowledged that his poem was not perfect in terms of rhyming.
But he said it was written with the pure intention to "improve" public understanding of the government's performance.
Hey, whatever works, right ?
Still, as far as local literary statesman go, he's still got nothing on Kukrit Pramoj -- who was Thai PM in the mid-1970's, author of numerous novels, including some that have even been translated into English (e.g. Four Reigns) -- and starred (well, appeared ...) opposite Marlon Brando in the film The Ugly American (in which he plays a ... prime minister !).
They have an amazing list -- the University of Chicago Press distribution page page might make for an easier overview of what's coming, and what's available -- and quite a few of their titles are under review at the complete review; indeed, I just got to another one a couple of days ago.
In The Globe and Mail Mark Medley wonders -- at considerably length -- Will the world get fired up about CanLit ?
With Canada the 'guest of honour' at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 and the upcoming 141st issue of Granta a Canada-special -- nothing up yet at the official site, but you can pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- there's more attention to be had, and maybe it's Canada's time to shine.
In the US, US authors obviously still overshadow most CanLit -- though some authors (Atwood and Munro, among others) are obviously huge -- and French-Canadian literature is almost entirely unknown.
It would be great if that would change .....
But maybe (apparently ?) CanLit is too: "literary upmarket" ?