As if the situation weren't bad enough with regards to the dozens of regional languages in which writers are writing in India, far too little of which makes it abroad in translation, Blake Smith now points out at The Wire that 'Indian writing in French is almost entirely unknown -- ignored in India, in France, and everywhere else', in Indian Literature Speaks French.
Neat to learn about this little sliver of Indian literature .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Edy Poppy's 2005 novel, Anatomy. Monotony., recently out in English from Dalkey Archive Press.
Yet another in the getting-a-bit-long-in-the-tooth trend of works of confessional/autobiographical Norwegian (not-quite-)fiction (but, hey ! 2005 ! she was ahead of a lot of these books ...) -- and, yeah, maybe not a prime exemplar.
But it presumably had a different impact in Norway at the time -- the critics seeing it as not-so-Norwegian, and of course influenced by the persona of the author (locally, a presumably not unknown model).
Meanwhile, the German publishers went all-in on selling this as an erotic novel (including plastering that description on the cover).
The original Norwegian cover does feature the author in the nude on the cover (an image which Dalkey also uses, if not quite as prominently (albeit in triplicate ...), on the cover of the English-language version):
The Goldmann edition not only went with a different (sexier ?) title ('The Hands of the Cellist', which I suppose is sexier than any combination of 'anatomy' and 'monotony), and published it under the author's (more ? less ? familiar) real name ('Edy Poppy' is a pseudonym), but was more ... in your face with the cover illustration:
Yeah, that does not look like the hands of any cellist I know .....
The author was not amused (to put it mildly): see, for example, Thomas Lindemann's (German) article in Die Welt.
With all due sympathy to the author -- and, yeah, this is pretty shocking, shabby treatment -- I do have to point out that this is a book which includes post-coital pillow talk such as:
With you, an orgasm is like a momentous upchuck of the finest food and drink.
So, yeah, there really are few winners here .....
(And, yes, that German edition is long, long out of print.
I'm a bit surprised it's not a pricey collector's item -- maybe all the available copies aren't in salable condition ?)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christian Kracht's The Dead, coming out in English in July, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Oddly, this is the second book I've reviewed recently in which Charlie Chaplin plays a significant secondary role -- Daniel Pennac's The Dictator and the Hammock being the other.
But beyond these two, I also recently picked up Michael Köhlmeier's Two Gentlemen on the Beach -- a Chaplin-and-Churchill novel (see the Haus publicity page) --, and I also have Fabio Stassi's Charlie Chaplin's Last Dance (see the Portobello Books publicity page) .....
There are quite a few real people who appear in more works of fiction that I've reviewed, but it's still a stiking recent trend.
(I suspect Kracht's is the ... least generous Chaplin-portrayal, by the way.)
I've mentioned the ongoing self-destruction of the Nobel Prize in Literature-deciding Swedish Academy ... and it seems to still be very much ongoing.
The latest official press statement -- dated 20 April, but only 24 April in its English translation ... -- wants to (re)assure that, as far as the Nobel selection process goes, everything is hunky-dory:
We want to emphasise that the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee -- the working group that prepares the prize colloquium and submits recommendations before the decision is reached -- is intact and has conducted its work this spring in the usual fashion.
During the spring the proposals are examined by the Nobel Committee and in April it presents for the Academy’s approval a preliminary list of candidates, containing some 20 names.
Before the Academy’s summer recess the list has usually been further reduced to about five names.
They really want to convince us that this is going seamlessly ?
Now, the first rumblings of a possible/necessary delay are being heard: Sverige Radio reports Källor till Kulturnytt: Nobelpriset kan stoppas i år.
Postponing the prize for a year is not unheard of -- it happened, most famously, with Albert Einstein, who received the 1921 Physics Prize in 1922 (because: "none of the year's nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel" in 1921 -- rather ridiculously, since one candidate did receive more than a third of the nominations in 1921 (and, yes, it was ... Albert Einstein, who actually then received fewer solo-nominations in 1922 (when the prize went to Niels Bohr)).
Still reeling from the Dylan-debacle -- or is this all just all meant as distracting noise, to try to finally drown that embarrassment out ? (good luck with that: the Dylan-stain is irremovable) -- the Swedish Academy will be hard-pressed to show they're up to making a judicious selection, so maybe a delay would be in the best interests of the long-term viability of the prize.
On the other hand, it would be a devastating black eye for them to skip the pomp and circumstance for a year .....
The May/June issue of World Literature Today is now available -- with a focus on Speculative Fiction.
Lots of great content -- and, above all, reviews (this time with quite a few titles already under review at the complete review).
They've announced that The Second War of the Dog (also translated as Dog War II), by Ibrahim Nasrallah, has won this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Several of Nasrallah's works have been translated into English (surprisingly, none are under review at the complete review) -- and this one will be as well.
They've announced that Katy Derbyshire will receive the Straelener Übersetzerpreis 2018 of the Kunststiftung NRW -- €25,000 for both her translation of Clemens Meyer's Bricks and Mortar (Fitzcarraldo Editions) and her work as a whole; she gets to pick up the prize on 12 June.
Several Derbyshire translations are under review at the complete review: Sibylle Lewitscharoff's Apostoloff, Tilman Rammstedt's The King of China, as well as Inka Parei's The Shadow-Boxing Woman, which she translated but I actually reviewed long before that .....
Meanwhile, Simon Pare was awarded the 'Förderpreis' -- the newcomer award -- for his translation of Christoph Ransmayr's Man Booker International Prize longlisted The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books) -- and while I haven't gotten to that one yet (though I have it, and will), there is a review of another Pare-translated Ransmayr at the complete review, the excellent Atlas of an Anxious Man.
This year's NGC Bocas Lit Fest runs tomorrow through the 29th, in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.
Among the events: on the 28th, they'll announce the winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, which is down to the two finalists: poetry winner Madwoman, by Shara McCallum, and fiction winner Curfew Chronicles, by Jennifer Rahim -- both published by Peepal Tree Press.
It's World Book and Copyright Day.
At least according to UNESCO; god forbid there'd be actual international agreement about something like this, and so, for example, the British celebrated World Book Day on 1 March this year.
But, hey, you can never have enough World Book Days !
Indeed, isn't every day world book day ?
(It is hereabouts !)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Daniel Kalder On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy, in The Infernal Library -- published in the UK as: Dictator Literature: A History of Despots Through Their Writing .....
Read what you will into the choice of different titles and subtitles .....
(I find it fascinating that in this internet age US/UK publishers are still willing/eager to go their separate titling ways.
I don't believe much in SEO and the like, but, man, talk about reader-unfriendly, confusion-causing, and search engine un-optimizing .....)
They announced the winners of this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prizes --"dedicated to championing new voices and celebrating the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers" -- Friday night, with Exit West by Mohsin Hamid taking the fiction prize.
At Simenon Simenon they have a Q & A with three translators who have been involved in Penguin's massive Maigret-re-translation project, Ros Schwartz, Howard Curtis, and Siân Reynolds.
While quite a few Simenons are under review at the complete review, I've only gotten to two of the (new) Maigrets: Pietr the Latvian and The Late Monsieur Gallet; I do have a few more, and hope to get to them, sooner or later.
From this year, the prize will include translations of literary fiction from regional languages.
They had backed off this for quite a while, but now finally have properly opened up the prize (presumably concerned about the new prize on the block, the JCB Prize ...).
Translations of works from regional languages published between July 2017 and June 2018 will also be eligible.
The original work should have been published in the last 50 years i.e. not earlier than January 1968.
Only works of literary merit will be considered.
(I'm curious who/how they make the 'literary merit' call .....)
It'll be interesting to see whether (or how many) translations figure on the shortlist (to be announced in October).
PBS is broadcasting an eight-part series "that explores and celebrates the power of reading" called The Great American Read starting 22 May, and they have now unveiled America's 100 most-loved books, "a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel" (with, certain limitations: "Each author was limited to one title on the list", for example).
It is a list with ... much that is really not very good, much less great.
(As these lists are wont to be, of course.)
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, awarded for: "the best non-fiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world".
Two titles are in translation -- but I figure Yuri Slezkine's The House of Government has to be the favorite.
The winner will be announced 7 June.