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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 18 July 2018

11 July: Rentrée littéraire numbers | A Life Misspent review
12 July: Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (1923-2018) | TLS summer books recommendations | Lee Child enthusiasm
13 July: Frank Wynne profile | 'Hotlist 30' | Hybrid Child review
14 July: Top French classics ? | „Brücke Berlin“-Preis
15 July: Mad Toy review
16 July: The Story of The Stone, jr. version | Thomas Bernhard's editor
17 July: (US) National Translation Awards longlists | Literature in(/from) ... Finland
18 July: Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award | The Millions' book preview | Sentimental Education review

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18 July 2018 - Wednesday

Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award | The Millions' book preview
Sentimental Education review

       Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

       The Dayton Literary Peace Prize Committee has announced that John Irving will receive this year's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. He gets to pick it up at the Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards ceremony, on 28 October.

       Several Irving titles are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Millions' book preview

       I mentioned Publishers Weekly's Fall 2018 Adult Announcements issue a few weeks back, and now The Millions has now published their Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2018 Book Preview of upcoming US publications.
       A handful of these are already under review at the complete review -- Bernardo Atxaga's Nevada Days, Thomas Clerc's Interior, Éric Vuillard's prix Goncourt-winning The Order of the Day, and, above all, Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries -- and I expect to get to quite a few more (though there are also many fall titles I'm looking forward to seeing that didn't make this list).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Sentimental Education review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gustave Flaubert's classic, Sentimental Education, the third major Flaubert work (and, yet again, a very different one) I've gotten to.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



17 July 2018 - Tuesday

(US) National Translation Awards longlists | Literature in(/from) ... Finland

       (US) National Translation Awards longlists

       The American Literary Translators Association has announced the longlists for its National Translation Awards. This prize impressively: "includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work" -- which should be particularly interesting this year, with a translation of Homer's Odyssey is in the running .....
       None of the poetry titles are under review at the complete review -- though I actually have, and hope to get to, some of these -- but several prose titles are:
  • Affections , by Rodrigo Hasbún, translated by Sophie Hughes
  • Compass, by Mathias Énard, translated by Charlotte Mandell
  • Dandelions, by Kawabata Yasunari, translated by Michael Emmerich
  • Ghachar Ghochar, by Vivek Shanbhag, translated by Srinath Perur
       Also on the longlist: Will Vanderhyden's Best Translated Book Award-winning translation of Rodrigo Fresán's The Invented Part .
       The shortlists will be announced in September, and the winners will be announced at ALTA's annual conference (to be held 31 October to 3 November).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literature in(/from) ... Finland

       At The Paris Review's Daily weblog Kalle Oskari Mattila explains How Finland Rebranded Itself as a Literary Country.
       He presents Sofi Oksanen's Purge as a break-through work with its international reach -- though I'd argue that The Year of the Hare-(etc.) author Arto Paasilinna has been a bigger brand for much longer -- just not in the English-speaking world (but he's a big hit internationally otherwise). And for every Johanna Sinisalo success, worthy authors such as Kari Hotakainen struggle to get more than one title into English -- while huge-in-Finland works like Laura Lindstedt's Oneiron get translated but lag in attention. (But, yes, at least more is being made available, which is great.)
       FILI, the 'Finnish Literature Exchange ', do do a nice job -- though amazingly: "FILI will be closed for the summer holidays from 25 June to 31 July 2018 inclusive". And see also the site for the Elina Ahlback Literary Agency (which goes un-diacritical at the official site).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



16 July 2018 - Monday

The Story of The Stone, jr. version | Thomas Bernhard's editor

       The Story of The Stone, jr. version

       I'm not too sure about this (altered, simplified) junior version of The Story of The Stone (a.k.a. Dream of the Red Chamber and A Dream of Red Mansions), as described by Mei Jia in China Daily, in Classical text gets novel treatment.
       The simplifier, Liu Xinwu, at least seems to be an expert on the novel -- among his previous works is even one 'completing' it -- but I still have my doubts. (Let them read the real thing !)
       Still, any excuse to mention this great work and its significance -- and the article has a few interesting observations and quotes, including how big a fan Mao was (not necessarily a selling point ?) -- and that:
"You can talk about it (the novel) only after reading through it at least five times," Mao had said.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Thomas Bernhard's editor

       In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Paul Jandl has an interesting (German) piece on Thomas Bernhard's first editor at Suhrkamp/Insel, Anneliese Botond, reviewing a collection of her correspondence with the author -- Wer hätte schon Thomas Bernhards Lektorin sein wollen ? Diese Frau war es !
       Worth pointing to because it gives me an opportunity to remind you of the neat Korrektur Verlag publishing house, who brought out this collection, Briefe an Thomas Bernhard (see their publicity page). I've mentioned them before, and they continue to do great Bernhard-inspired and -related stuff.
       But Anneliese Botond is also interesting beyond her Bernhard-work; among the other authors she worked with was Paul Celan, and she translated an impressive array of authors from the French and Spanish, from Foucault and Simenon to Onetti,, Puig, and, above all, Alejo Carpentier. (I happen to be knee-deep in her translation of Carpentier's outrageously not available in English La consagración de la primavera, so it's amusing to come across her in this very different context too.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



15 July 2018 - Sunday

Mad Toy review

       Mad Toy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roberto Arlt's 1926 novel, Mad Toy.

       My review is based on the 2002 Michele McKay Aynesworth translation (Duke University Press) -- and, yes, I acquired the book in 2002; sometimes it takes me a while to get to a book ... -- but another translation, by James Womack, was published in the UK in 2013 (by Hesperus). Another of his novels, The Seven Madmen, has, oddly enough, also been translated twice -- while the rest of his output has so far mostly been ignored (though a translation The Flamethrowers -- the continuation of The Seven Madmen -- is apparently forthcoming from River Boat Books; see here (scroll down)).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



14 July 2018 - Saturday

Top French classics ? | „Brücke Berlin“-Preis

       Top French classics ?

       Le HuffPost -- yes, there's a French version of this site -- asked a variety of popular French authors and other "professionnels du milieu littéraire" to name their top twenty French classics, tallying the totals to make a list of ten essential classics (for purposes of a summer reading challenge to entertain/occupy their readers) -- and Lauren Provost now sums up the results in Les 10 plus grands romans français selon les écrivains pour notre défi de l'été.
       The list is definitely old-classics-heavy -- event the least long-dead of the authors died over twenty years ago -- and partially very predictable (Les Misérables, The Red and the Black, Madame Bovary). (Only the Flaubert and Le Grand Meaulnes are under review at the complete review.)
       Interesting to hear that, for example, there were a lot of votes for Zola-titles -- but that they were spread over so many titles that none made the cut.
       More interesting, of course, are the individual selections -- which you can see by clicking on the links. It is a ... curious selection of author-selectors, ranging from Marie Darrieusecq to Marc Levy to Franck Thilliez.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       „Brücke Berlin“-Preis

       The „Brücke Berlin“ Prize is a German literature-in-translation award, the winning translation getting a prize of €20,000, shared equally by author and translator(s), and they've now announced that this year's prize goes to the German translation (by Natia Mikeladse-Bachsoliani) of Zaza Burchuladze's novel, ტურისტის საუზმე; see, for example, the Georgia Today report, Zaza Burchuladze Awarded Literary Prize, and the Georgian and German publishers' publicity pages for the book
       Burchuladze's adibas came out in English from Dalkey Archive Press a couple of years ago; no word yet as to whether this will get a US/UK publisher.
       This prize does look like it has a pretty good track record, beginning with the neat double for its opening award in 2002, an Esther Kinsky translation of an Olga Tokarczuk work. Works by David Albahari, Andrei Bitov, Krasznahorkai László, Nádas Péter, and Serhiy Zhadan have also taken the biennial prize since.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



13 July 2018 - Friday

Frank Wynne profile | 'Hotlist 30' | Hybrid Child review

       Frank Wynne profile

       In the Irish Times Michael Cronin profiles 'Irelandís most distinguished living literary translator', in From 'La Bamba' to Houellebecq: Frank Wynne's linguistic odyssey.
       Wynne managed the neat feat of placing two translations on the longlist for this year's Man Booker International Prize list -- particularly neat because the translations were from different languages (Spanish and French).
       Quite a few of his translations are under review at the complete review, from several Pierre Lemaitres (including the prix Goncourt-winning The Great Swindle), Houellebecqs (e.g. Platform), and Frédéric Beigbeder's Windows on the World ) to a few Spanish-language works, such as Tomás Eloy Martínez's Purgatory.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       'Hotlist 30'

       A German prize for the best book published by an independent publisher has now relesed their 30 finalists (more convenient list/overview here), selected from 161 entries; readers can now vote for their favorites.
       Always interesting to see what the smaller presses are bringing out in other countries -- especially also since a lot of these are titles in translation. Among the authors with longlisted books: Marcel Schwob, Judith Kerr, Dennis Cooper, Shelley -- and Arthur Koestler, with Darkness at Noon.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Hybrid Child review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ōhara Mariko's 1990 science fiction novel, Hybrid Child, just out in English from the University of Minnesota Press.
       Wild stuff but certainly of some interest.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



12 July 2018 - Thursday

Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (1923-2018)
TLS summer books recommendations | Lee Child enthusiasm

       Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (1923-2018)

       I'm late to the sad news that Mirages of the Mind-author Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi has passed away.
       See, for example, Celebrated humourist Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi passes away in Karachi in Dawn, and now Mahmood Farooqui's tribute at The Wire, Remembering Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi, Urdu's Greatest Wordsmith.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       TLS summer books recommendations

       The Times Literary Supplement has contributors offer their Summer books 2018 recommendations -- usually a pretty good selection.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Lee Child enthusiasm

       In this week's Times Literary Supplement Sam Leith tries to explain Lee Child's success, in Looking up to Jack Reacher.
       As Leith notes, his fans and admirers are many -- not just the book-buying public that propels the books up the bestseller lists, but also those of an ostensibly more serious literary bent. (Among those he doesn't mention are also César Aira, while Man Booker-winning author Eleanor Catton said he was one of her holiday go-to authors in a TLS Twenty Questions, and both John Lanchester and Malcolm Gladwell have enthused about him in The New Yorker (here and here).)
       Only two Reacher novels are under review at the complete review -- Killing Floor and The Affair -- and while I suspect I'll get to a few others, I'm not an entirely won over die-hard fan.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



11 July 2018 - Wednesday

Rentrée littéraire numbers | A Life Misspent review

       Rentrée littéraire numbers

       The French 'rentrée littéraire' -- the big flooding of the book market with the big (and prize-contending) titles is still more than a month off, but the preview are beginning -- beginning with the numbers.
       As widely reported, 567 novels will hit the market -- down from last year's 581, but more than 2016's 560. One interesting note: fiction in translation continues its slow decline, with only 186 foreign works, the lowest since 1999 (!). (The decline has been slow rather than precipitous -- there were 191 last year, 196 in 2016 -- but it's a steady, continuing decline).
       On the other hand, first novels are better-represented than any time since 2007 -- a sign, perhaps, that the French are looking for something new .....
       Previews of the big titles should be appearing over the next couple of weeks.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       A Life Misspent review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Life Misspent, by Suryakant Tripathi, known as Nirala, a 1939 Hindi work that came out in translation a couple of years ago.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



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