They're down to three finalists for the 2018 Jan Michalski Prize, the CHF 50,000 prize for: "a work of world literature [...] of fiction or non fiction, irrespective of the language in which it is written".
Works by Olga Tokarczuk -- coming in English in a year or so --, Yuval Noah Harari, and Jean Rolin make up the final three.
There's a new French prize, the prix André-Malraux (not to be confused with the previous, defunct prix André-Malraux ...), awarded in two categories: for a work of fiction in the service of the 'condition humaine', and for an essay on art; admirably, both works originally written in French and in translation appear to be eligible.
This award also offers pretty neat prizes: not just a slightly-more-than-just-symbolic €1933 in cash winnings, but also a round-the-world plane ticket for the fiction winner and ... a week-end in Washington D.C. for the art-essay winner.
They've now announced the 'second selection' -- the shortlists ? --; see, for example, the report at Livres Hebdo
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was the keynote speaker at the opening press conference of the Frankfurt Book Fair held earlier this week, and at Publishers Weekly they now print her speech in its entirety -- well worth a read (and you can also watch it).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Daša Drndić's Doppelgänger, just out in English from Istros Books.
This is a quite remarkable work -- I hesitate to use the word, but it's virtuoso writing, incredibly composed.
So I am very much looking forward to E.E.G. (or EEG) -- out on 1 November in the UK (pre-order your copy at Amazon.co.uk) but only in March in the US (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com).
A great loss when she died earlier this year.
The Saba literary awards are the biggest Georgian literary prizes, and since Georgia was the guest of honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair they announced this year's winners at the fair.
Lasha Bughadze (whose The Literature Express Dalkey Archive Press brought out a couple of years ago) won for best novel with პატარა ქვეყანა ('Small Country'; see the publisher's publicity page), while the best translation into Georgian was David Tserediani's of Goethe's Faust II.
Sure, the (American) National Book Foundation recently announced the finalists for this year's National Book Awards but if you think the French are better-suited to anoint what's best in American fiction, well, the Grand prix de littérature américaine has announced its three finalists; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
Popular Finnish author Arto Paasilinna has passed away; see, for example, the France24 report.
He never really seems to have caught on in the English-speaking markets, but he was huge in translation elsewhere, across Europe, with most of his many books appearing in many languages.
Several of his books are under review at the complete review:
The biggest literary prize announced yesterday -- at least in cash terms ?
Not that Man Booker thing -- no, it was the Premio Planeta, awarded to Yo, Julia, by historical novelist Santiago Posteguillo; see, for example, the El mundoreport.
How much does he get ?
A tidy €601,000.
None of his work appears to be available in English, but you have to figure some will eventually -- this sort of historical fiction is pretty popular, and he seems to be a big hit in Spain.
They've announced that Milkman, by Anna Burns, has won this year's Man Booker Prize (with a fraction of the Premio Planeta payout, at £50,000).
It's not yet out in the US but will be shortly; see the Faber publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Zulu Epic by Mazisi Kunene, Emperor Shaka the Great.
It is of fairly epic proportions -- over 400 pages long -- and in verse !
First published in the great African Writers Series in 1979, it was published in this English translation (by the author) long before the Zulu original came out; last year the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press re-issued it -- and, admirably, finally brought out the original, uNodumehlezi KaMenzi; see their publicity page.
Also interesting to compare this to the (translated from the Sesotho) Chaka, by Thomas Mofolo
Today is the day Damion Searls' translation of Uwe Johnson's classic Anniversaries comes out, in a lovely boxed set from New York Review Books -- so if you haven't pre-ordered it ... well, what are you waiting for ?
Head to the local store or order it online -- just get your copy of the biggest (page- and significance-wise) translation of the year.
Yes, there was an earlier translation -- but given this new one, the less said the better about that horribly abridged one .....
There's been a bit of coverage to prepare you (though so far review coverage has been ... lagging): at the Literary Hub they've been excerpting the book, day by day, the past week, while at The Paris Review's Daily weblog translator Searls is scheduled to introduce the book and author with three essays; see the first, On Uwe Johnson: Poet of Both Germanies.
There's also an event tonight at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, with translator Searls in conversation with NYRB Classics editor Edwin Frank.
Really, this is a book well worth going out of your way for (and making the time for -- yes, it's long).
Two more translations of novels by Dag Solstad came out in English this spring -- T Singer and Armand V. -- and already at the start of the year, on 2 January, I was ready to call it:
the one reviewing certainty of this year is that James Wood will review this duo -- T Singer and Armand V. -- in The New Yorker.
Pretty much guaranteed.
(And I imagine they will be very positive reviews; deservedly so -- they're great books.)
It took him quite a bit longer than I had expected, but he finally did get around to it, and Marginal Men Take Center Stage in the Novels of Dag Solstad appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker.
The books -- and Solstad generally -- haven't gotten the attention they deserve -- but it's not too late .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a Boolean Comedrama by Oulipians Jacques Jouet and Olivier Salon, Two-Step, just out as a chapbook from Toad Press -- and also translated in tandem, by Emma Ramadan and Chris Clarke.
I don't want poetry books to be bestsellers.
For, if you sell more, that means you are resonating with the mainstream.
Poetry is the voice from the outside.
Its survival depends on resisting the mainstream.
I'm all for pushing boundaries with form and content, but I'm not sure about Ben Denzer's American Cheese, 20 Slices.
At Saveur University of Michigan librarian Jamie Lausch Vander Broek writes about spending US$200 on a copy (of the limited edition of ten), in You Can Check Out an Actual Cheese Book at this Michigan Library.
The headline exaggerates a bit -- the library listing says it is for: 'Building use only' (and by appointment, at that) -- but the essence is apparently true: it's described as: "Twenty individually wrapped slices of Kraft American cheese bound together".
What's truly scary:
We won't be storing the cheese book in the fridge; according to our head of conservation, American singles are basically shelf stable.
(People consume this stuff ?
There are only ten copies -- no ISBN, no Amazon listing ... -- but don't tell the kids about it, they'll want to make their own .....
(But you're not feeding this stuff to them anyway, are you ?)
After the Soviet collapse, Iva Pekárková was briefly pretty hot in English, with several works translated in the 1990s and 2000, but it's been pretty quiet (in English) since then.
At Radio Praha she resurfaces, in a Q & A with Brian Kenety.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of (controversial) 1974 Nobel laureate Harry Martinson's Aniara: A Review of Man in Time and Space -- a rare work of science fiction in verse.
This has not only been made into an opera, but there's a new movie-version just out; not sure this will make it to your local cineplex, but see the trailer.
In many countries there have long been complaints about English-language popular fiction taking over the local book market -- and leaving less room for domestic authors -- but in South Korea they apparently are more concerned about fiction from closer to home.
Apparently, as Kang Hyun-kyung reports in The Korea Times in Highbrow vs. lowbrow literature:
Goh Gwang-ryul, a novelist, said the "unproductive highbrow vs. lowbrow literature debate" in Korean literary circles can partly explain how Japanese fiction has been pushing Korean writers out of business.
He said Japanese writers are able to meet the changing tastes of Korean readers as they produce readable books, whereas Koreans fail to do so because of the hypocrisy of literary critics.
Local literary critics see middlebrow fiction as something derogatory and lower-class literature, Goh said.
"Their arrogance and downplaying of middlebrow books is related to the sluggish book sales of Korean fiction.
They exert enormous influence on publishers.
They make or break publication of certain books."
Hey, literary critics actually having an influence on the book market !
They've announced that Maryse Condé will receive the New Academy Prize in Literature, the one-time would-be Nobel Prize in Literature stand-in.
Good for her -- a deserving winner --, getting the attention and cash.
The only title of hers under review at the complete review is her memoir, What is Africa to Me ? but her fiction is certainly worth checking out too.
Deutsche Welle has made up what they call: 'the ultimate list of German-language books [published since 1900] translated into English'; see Reading Matter ? 100 German Must-Reads ! with links to more information about all the titles, or a pdf of the 100 German Must-Reads; see also their explanation, 100 German must-reads: The story behind the project.
The limitations -- post-1900 titles, translated into English, and one book per author -- make for a ... somewhat limited list (though it does get a lot of the big titles); it also skews recent and popular.
Quite a few of the titles are under review at the complete review:
Maybe they would have already announced it last Thursday, but today probably would have been the day they revealed the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature -- but since the prize-deciding Swedish Academy imploded earlier this year we've known for a while that there would be no announcement this October.
The plan is now to announce both the 2018 and 2019 winners next year -- although the way things are going, who knows whether or not they'll be able to pull that off; even if they do, it will hardly make for twice the fun.
The one-off fill-in 'The New Academy Prize in Literature' will announce its winner tomorrow, but it's a pretty sorry substitute -- and, with the low stakes (not much prestige to be had here, unlike the tradition-steeped Nobel) and the three finalists known (the fourth, Murakami Haruki, having pulled out), there's none of the frenzied guessing (and betting) action that accompanies the last days and hours before the the Nobel announcement.
(Of course, at least this prize won't surprise with a selection like ... Bob Dylan, either, so at least there's that.)
I kind of miss the Nobel nonsense -- and Nobel-announcement day is always the day which brings by far the most traffic to the complete review -- but I'm glad to be able to devote the time I'd otherwise have spent on it reading and writing instead.
(And it's not like there aren't enough other prizes to keep track of at this time of year .....)
They've announced the sixteen-title longlist for this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, selected from 88 submissions; it includes four titles in translation (from Assamese, Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi).
I've only seen two of these, with many of the titles (and all the translations) not (yet) out in the US/UK.
The shortlist will be announced 14 November.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano's Paris Nocturne.
This one has been out from Yale University Press in their Margellos World Republic of Letters series for a couple of years now, but the next -- Sleep of Memory -- is due out next week; I should be getting to that one soon, too.