They'll be announcing the winners of the two biggest French literary prizes -- the prix Goncourt and the prix Renaudot -- tomorrow, but especially the latter takes a big hit to its reputation with Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut's report in The New York Times 'on the entrenched and clubby nature of many of France's elite institutions', in Pedophile Scandal Can't Crack the Closed Circles of Literary France.
Gabriel Matzneff won a Renaudot in 2013 (just the non-fiction prize, but still) -- "engineered by an elite fully aware of his pedophilia", as:
His powerful editor and friends sat on the jury.
“We thought he was broke, he was sick, this will cheer him up,” said Frédéric Beigbeder, a confidant of Mr. Matzneff and a Renaudot juror since 2011.
As if that weren't troubling enough: "all but one of the same jurors who honored Mr. Matzneff are expected to crown this year's winners on Monday".
Really, the whole system is ... problematic:
In France's literary prize system, jurors serve usually for life and themselves select new members.
In a process rife with conflicts of interest that is rarely scrutinized, judges often select winners among friends, champion the work of a colleague and press on behalf of a romantic partner.
At The Bookseller they've announced the winner of this year's The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, and it is A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in Eastern Indonesian Society; see also the McGill-Queen's University Press publicity page.
They've announced the August Prize(s), the leading Swedish literary prizes.
The fiction prize went to Samlade verk ('Collected Works') by Lydia Sandgren; see also the Bonniers foreign rights page; it's already been sold into quite a few markets -- though not yet, apparently, the US or UK .....
As, for example, reported by Jim Milliot at Publishers Weekly, Bertelsmann to Buy S&S for $2.2 Billion -- making, essentially, for a merger of Bertelsmann-juggernaut Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster -- the largest and third largest trade publishers in the US; see also the Bertelsmann press release.
Yeah, that sounds healthy .....
They've announced the winner of this year's Finlandia Prize, the leading Finnish novel prize, worth €30,000, and it is Margarita, by Anni Kytömäki.
See also the Gummerus publicity page, or the Helsinki Agency information page.
Kytömäki doesn't seem to have broken through internationally yet; the size of this one may make it a rather hard sell, but it sounds like we'll be seeing her work in translation sooner or later.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dương Thu Hương's 1988 novel, Paradise of the Blind.
Amazingly, this was billed as: "the first novel from Vietnam ever published in the United States" when it came out here in 1993.
There still are far too few translations from the Vietnamese, but it's good to see that Dương has become fairly well established, with several titles available; she really is very good (and I should get around to reviewing more of her books).
Very sad to hear that John O'Brien, the founder and publisher of Dalkey Archive Press and its affiliated undertakings -- the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Context, and the Center for Book Culture -- has passed away; see, for example, the official announcement at the Dalkey Archive site.
Through these endeavors, O'Brien was, over the past thirty-five years, one of the leading figures in bringing literature in translation to an English-speaking audience; indeed, I can't think of anyone who brought as much, and as diverse an amount, to the US/UK market.
Until the rise of AmazonCrossing, Dalkey Archive was long the leading publisher -- in terms of the number of titles -- of works in translation published in the US, and it has apparently published around a thousand titles (including a decent number written in English).
Unsurprisingly, I have been a fan since the earliest days -- long before I started this site -- and once I did start the complete review, Dalkey Archive titles were obviously among those I was most eager to cover; I figure I own at least three-quarters of the list (many in the form of review-copy ARCs), and with over 200 titles under review at the complete review, Dalkey Archive is clearly the imprint most in synch with my interests and the site.
It's good to hear that a succession plan is in place, as:
Before his passing, the Dalkey Archive’s board of directors approved an agreement to merge with Deep Vellum Publishing, a nonprofit publishing house and literary arts center based in Dallas, TX.
Deep Vellum and its publisher Will Evans to honor John O’Brien’s legacy by keeping Dalkey Archive’s backlist in print and by signing future titles, together with the assistance of editorial consultant, Chad W. Post, of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester.
This sounds promising, and I hope for the best -- the Dalkey Archive backlist is a wonder (if also an unwieldy one), and it would also be wonderful if O'Brien's vision was also continued with a similar steady stream of future acquisitions; Deep Vellum, under Will Evans' leadership and with some guidance from Chad Post (who worked under O'Brien at Dalkey Archive for several years), certainly sounds like a good home for the imprint (though it is a lot to take on -- legacy- and other-wise).
(I do hope they keep the old website and publicity-page URLs; if I have to change those on every one of the 200+ review pages I will be ... displeased.)
The Society of Authors has announced the six shortlists for its Translation Prizes this year.
Surprisingly, none of the finalists for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (for translations from German) are under review at the complete review at this time -- but three of the finalists for the John Florio Prize (from the Italian) are:
Trick by Domenico Starnone, in Jhumpa Lahiri's translation
Other shortlists include that for the Premio Valle Inclán -- for translations from the Spanish --, from which one title is under review: Mac and His Problem (US title: Mac's Problem) by Enrique Vila-Matas, in Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes' translation, and the Scott Moncrieff Prize, for translations from the French, from which one title is under review: The Governesses by Anne Serre, in Mark Hutchinson's translation.
The winners will be announced on 11 February.
They've announced the winner of this year's £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, and it is One Two Three Four, by Craig Brown
That's the UK title; in the US this is being sold as 150 Glimpses of the Beatles .....
See also the publicity pages from 4th Estate and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the shortlists for the five categories of the Whitbread Costa Book Awards; the only title under review at the complete review is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.
The category-winners will be announced 4 January; the book of the year winner -- selected from the five category winners -- will be announced 26 January.
It's the big French literary prize season -- with the Goncourt, the biggest of them all, to be announced next Monday -- and at CNews they have a useful overview of what winning is actually worth, as several of the biggest have a small or even no cash-prize payout (the Goncourt pays out a symbolic €10; the Renaudot doesn't even bother with that) -- but winning the prize generally results in a very significant sales-boost.
It's in the extra sales that the big(ger) money is, and they report that between 2012 and 2016 the average Goncourt-winner shifted 345,000 copies, the Renaudot-winner 220,000; surprisingly the biggest sales bump is for the winner of the Goncourt des lycéens, which sold an average of 395,000 copies.
(A few of the prizes do pay out real money, but compared to other countries the money on offer is in the low range -- €10,000 apparently about as much as authors can expect.
The best-known American prizes are in the same range -- the Pulitzer at $15,000, the National Book Award at $10,000 -- but there are quite a few smaller prizes that pay out more, often a lot more.)
(Updated - 25 November): As a reader points out, the Goncourt really is/should be the big sales-helper -- and indeed data covering a different time-period (2014-2018) puts it ahead, with an average of 367,100 copies sold by the winner, ahead of the still strong showing by the Goncourt des lycéens winner (314,000 sold) and the surprisingly steady showing by the Renaudot (219,800 copies).
I suspect the study I originally cited was skewed by the phenomenal success of the 2012 Goncourt des lycéens winner -- Joël Dicker's The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate William Golding's 1984 novel, The Paper Men.
This was his first work published after he won the Nobel; fun to see the reviews from back then -- it did not go over very well. .
Golding is now the 46th Nobel laureate under review at the complete review.
They've announced the longlist for the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize -- "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader" --, twelve works: four novels and eight works of non-fiction; see also the Jewish Chroniclereport.
The shortlist will be announced in late January, and the winner at the end of February.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Walter Satterthwait's stand-alone 2003 mystery, Perfection.
This is one of those books that, while written in English, was published in translation before the original came out -- not just by a few weeks or months but by three years.
It also seems to have been more successful in that German translation than when it finally did come out in English.
(As you might recall, Satterthwait died earlier this year, so I've been getting to some of his books.)
I'm a few days late with this, but they've announced the winner of this year's Premio Cervantes, the leading Spanish-language author prize, and it is Spanish poet Francisco Brines.
There's a book on The Poetry of Francisco Brines -- see the Bucknell University Press publicity page -- but, amazingly, it doesn't look like there's any volume of his poetry available in English.
(Ten poems were published in the 1976 New Directions 32 anthology -- see their publicity page -- but he really does not seem to have made great inroads in the UK/US otherwise.)
The editors of The New York Times Book Review have selected their 100 Notable Books of 2020.
Remember that this is limited to books they have (or will) review -- i.e. a smattering of the many worthy titles out there -- but they do include quite a few books in translation, eleven this year (versus just three in 2019), with four alone translations from the Japanese.
Only five of the hundred titles are under review at the complete review -- all translations --, as I am also once again staggered by how many of these titles I haven't even seen .....:
(The Carrère seems an odd choice -- this had a US publication date of 5 November 2019 .....
(Yes, the NYTBR review appeared (in print) on 22 December 2019 -- within the past twelve months; still .....))
I haven't thought too much about my top books of the year -- for god's sakes, it's the middle of November, there's still tons of reading time ! -- and since I've gotten considerably fewer review copies this year than usual, even more of my reading and reviewing in 2020 has been backlist, but the one title I'm very surprised fell short here is Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
(As far as eligible (i.e. NYTBR-reviewed) translations go, Nino Haratischvili's The Eighth Life would have seemed a good fit, too.)
Journalist and author Jan Morris has passed away; see, for example, Veronica Horwell's obituary in The Guardian.
None of Morris' work is under review at the complete review but I was impressed by the ones I have read.
A fascinating writer -- and a fascinating life-story, too.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ignacy Krasicki's The Mouseiadand other Mock Epics, recently out from Glagoslav -- yet another of their amazing collections of classic Eastern European and Russian literature.
Krasicki's The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom came out from Northwestern University Press a while back, in their European Classics series -- see their publicity page -- but it's great to see these mock-epics available too.
Disappointing, however, that there's been so little coverage of this translation to date.
They've announced the winners of this year's Bavarian Book Prize.
The fiction prize went to Ulrike Draesner's Schwitters -- which, yes, is about Kurt Schwitters; see also the Penguin foreign rights page.
The non-fiction prize went to Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Kark Kraus which I've been hoping to see (but haven't yet); see also the Zsolnay foreign rights page.
As a major project for her forties, Kawakami set out the goal of authoring a novel on religion. “I’d like to write about what kami [native gods] mean here in Japan or about society after Aum Shinrikyō,” she said, referring to the cult that launched gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
This time, she imagines a story centering on the youngest character from Breasts and Eggs, and she remarked that Midoriko’s voice is in the back of her head, talking to her.
As Chad Post reports at Three Percent, the Best Translated Book Award is shaking things -- well, itself -- up, going on a hiatus of sorts for 2021: no translation-of-the-year prize, but rather a sort of retrospective celebration of the twenty-five previous winners, culminating in a public vote for a "BTBA Champion of Champions".
Meanwhile, a 2022 prize is planned -- and: "ALL books from 2020 and 2021 will be eligible".
Which should be interesting too .....
As the Tehran Times reports, in Iran the Winners of Sacred Defense Book of the Year awards honored -- the eighteenth edition of these prizes presented by the Foundation for the Preservation and Publication of Sacred Defense Works and Values.
Yes, they continue to take memorializing the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s very seriously.
We don't see much Iranian literature in translation in any case -- see what little is under review at the complete review -- but I suspect this will always remain a very local genre.
At The New York Times Insider Sarah Bahr has a Q & A with books-editors Pamela Paul and Andrew LaVallee, as this is apparently An Epic Week for the Books Desk, with coverage of the National Book Awards (which are being announced tonight), Booker Prize (tomorrow), as well as the announcement of the NYTBR's '100 Notable Books of 2020' on Friday (with the top ten to be announced on 23 November).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the third of the four volumes of Jin Yong's Legends of the Condor Heroes, A Snake Lies Waiting.
Apparently we still have to wait a couple of months until the concluding volume -- A Heart Divided; see the publicity pages from St. Martin's Griffin and Quercus -- is out in English; I'll certainly get to it as soon I get my hands on a copy.
The Dutch Foundation for Literature has published its latest batch of Translation Grants for Foreign Publishers -- 51 grants for the translation of Dutch fiction, children's books, non-fiction, and poetry.
Always interesting to see what it is being translated into what languages -- though disappointing to see, yet again, that almost none of the subsidized translations are into English .....
(That doesn't mean some of these titles won't be (or haven't been) published in the US/UK, but still .....)
They've announced the winner of this year's Premio Internacional de Novela Rómulo Gallegos, a leading Latin American book prize awarded every couple of years that has previously been awarded to Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Carlos Fuentes' Terra Nostra, and Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives (and, more recently, Eduardo Lalo's Simone), among others, and this year's winner is El país del diablo, by Perla Suez, selected from 214 entries; see, for example the report at Página|12.
Impressively, this is already available in English, as The Devil's Country; see the White Pine Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the winner of this year's Premio Nacional de las Letras Españolas, a leading Spanish (government) author award; previous winners include Rosa Chacel (1987), Miguel Delibes (1991), Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (1995), Juan and Luis Goytisolo (2008 and 2013), and, last year, Bernardo Atxaga; this year's winner is the prolific Luis Mateo Díez.
None of his work appears to be available in English.
People used the last day we were open, which was October 21, to the full.
Many of them borrowed up to 60 books, the maximum that can be borrowed at once, to make sure they have enough for the during of the closure.
Traditionally the biggest demand was for fiction.
Hardest word to translate: “It’s difficult to pinpoint one word.
It’s almost more important to talk about how to translate the space between words.
One thing I’ve wanted to do is to find a way to translate the tategaki [横書き] (vertical writing) aspect of Japanese.
I’d love to someday have a translation in English that’s done in tategaki.”
The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of the two dialogues by Giovanni Gioviano Pontano in the Harvard University Press I Tatti Renaissance Library edition of his Dialogues I, Charon and Antonius.
I finally got around to this (it came out in 2012) because volumes II and III have just been published -- see the Harvard University Press publicity pages here and here -- and my copies arrived just as I was preparing these reviews.
'Asinus', in the third volume, sounds particularly promising, described as: "less a dialogue than a fantastical autobiographical comedy in which Pontano himself is represented as having gone mad and fallen in love with an ass".
In The Bookseller Mark Chandler reports that in the UK Total book sales fell 11% in first-half, PA stats show.
The PA press release puts a different spin on it: Fiction makes a comeback in 2020, but the numbers add up the same: yes, fiction sales are up -- 13 per cent, "driven largely by digital formats" -- and audiobooks boomed, but the academic and export markets tanked; even children's book sales were down.
Not really encouraging news .....
They've announced the winner of this year's Boekenbon Literatuurprijs, one of the leading Dutch book prizes, and it is Zwarte schuur, by Oek de Jong -- which had already been shortlisted for this year's Libris Literatuur Prijs, the other leading Dutch novel prize.
See also the Atlas Contact publicity page, or the (English) information page at the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
The Swedish Book Review has a new URL, new look -- and a new issue is up (even if in the new design doesn't look as obviously issue-y (and, yes, obviously I preferred the old look)).
Fortunately, the content seems to be the usual -- translations, articles, and, above all else, reviews of new (not yet translated) Swedish titles -- all well worth your time.
The Swedish Book Review was recently profiled in the Times Literary Supplement by Paul Binding, in Evergreen darkness, where he describes it:
It features interviews with writers, publishers and translators (these last an important point of focus) as well as appraisals of literary achievements; generous extracts from significant recent works (usually novels); and, forming each issue’s end section, reviews of new Swedish books, both fiction and non-fiction.
These reviews are exemplary, never resembling publishers’ blurbs but objectively analytic of content, style and context.
Taken together they constitute paradigms of what’s going on in the Swedish book world.
The Académie française has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) its 2020 palmarès -- 62 (!) literary distinctions.
Among the bigger prizes: the Grande Médaille de la Francophonie goes to Lise Gauvin, the Grand Prix de la poésie to Michel Orcel, and the Grand prix de la philosophie to Claude Romano, all for their life-work.
They've announced the winners of this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, awarded for works showing: "the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding".
The World That We Knew, by Alice Hoffman, took the fiction prize, and Know My Name, by Chanel Miller, took the non-fiction prize.
The awards ceremony -- at which Margaret Atwood will also pick up her previously announced Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, will take place 27 June 2021.
- "Sixty-five writers make their selections from around the world" in the Times Literary Supplement's Books of the Year 2020.
(I'm fully on board with Michael Hofmann's selection: Roberto Bazlen's Notes Without a Text.)