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24 November 2015 - Tuesday

Reading in ... India | Augustpriset
(Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists | The Blizzard review

       Reading in ... India

       The peculiar business that is book publishing is, of course, peculiar worldwide -- hence it's not just in the US/UK/etc. that one can find a headline such as The reading conundrum: Is the books business booming or dying ? -- as Saudamini Jain explores the Indian situation, in the Hindustan Times.
       Mixed signals indeed:
In the late 1970s, the average book sold around 2,000 copies, writes veteran publisher Ashok Chopra in his memoir A Scrapbook of Memories. This, he says, is roughly true even of today, four decades later.
       Indeed, apparently:
Most successful books sell not more than 3,000 copies in India. This is a low number for anywhere in the world -- especially considering the size of the Indian middle-class
       I'm not sure their sense of the Indian situation versus that abroad is correct:
The big failure of Indian publishing, [Thomas Abraham, managing director at Hachette India] says is that "We, as an industry, have failed to do anything collectively to build the reading habit. We have done nothing to propagate serious reading. In the West, they have a designated Reading Day when the government and publishers come together. In Chicago, for instance, everyone on that one day will read Anna Karenina or whatever. You need to create something on TV, like Oprah Winfrey does with her Book Club. We have nothing."
       Much as I like to imagine all of Chicago walking around with their heads buried in Anna Karenina ("or whatever" ...), well .....

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


       They've announced the winners of this year's Augustpriset, the leading Swedish literary prize, with Montecore-author Jonas Hassen Khemiri taking the fiction prize, with Allt jag inte minns.
       Rights have already been sold to this, with it scheduled for publication from Atria in the US and Scribner in the UK; see also the Ahlander Agency information page.

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

       (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists

       Malcolm Turnbull is the fourth Australian prime minister in office since June 2013, but after a bit of turmoil in recent years things seem to have settled down around the Australian Prime Minister's Literary Awards, and they've now announced the shortlists for this year's prizes.
       Quite a few familiar names among the finalists (including Peter Carey, Elizabeth Harrower, David Malouf) but none of these titles are under review at the complete review.

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

       The Blizzard review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vladimir Sorokin's unusual (but seasonal ?) Russian satire/homage/zombie tale, The Blizzard, coming out next week from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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

23 November 2015 - Monday

Translation from ... Hindi | An Englishman in Madrid review

       Translation from ... Hindi

       Anjum Hasan's fascinating look at 'Reading Hindi literature in translation' -- English translation -- in The Caravan, Novel Renditions, is now fully accessible online.
       An interesting overview -- and many interesting observations, including that:
It is striking how so many of the novels recently translated into English capture life at a modern, usually mid- to late-twentieth-century, juncture. The dodgy, if not outright corrupted, nature of this modernity is what gives these novels their charge.
       Surprising, too, that apparently The Gift of a Cow-author Premchand -- "the king himself", Hasan writes -- has only had some 70 of his 300 stories translated.
       More depressing than just how little Hindi literature has been translated is how little of even just that has made it, readily accessibly, to US/UK shores. For every Uday Prakash (The Girl with the Golden Parasol, The Walls of Delhi) there seems so much more that is at least available in English but not readily available locally.
       But this does get me to put my copy of Gillian Wright's translation of Raag Darbari closer to the top of my get-to pile.

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       An Englishman in Madrid review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eduardo Mendoza's An Englishman in Madrid.
       This book won the Premio Planeta in 2010 -- a prize that with its €601,000 cash award blows pretty much every other literary prize (especially the American ones) out of the water.
       Nick Caistor's translation was published in the UK in 2013, but for some reason it only made it to the US this summer -- and doesn't seem to have gotten much attention here.

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

22 November 2015 - Sunday

Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards | New Statesman 2015 favourites list

       Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards

       The Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards are one Iran's leading literary prizes -- and, with each award paying out "110 Bahar Azadi gold coins" (reportedly: "worth over $33,000"), remunerative -- and they've announced this year's winners -- see the report in the Tehran Times -- and the not-winners, as:
No works in the categories of short story, literary criticism, or documentation were deemed worthy of Iran's most lucrative literary award during this year's edition of the Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards
       Meanwhile, the novel prize was shared, Fall Is the Last Season by Nasim Marashi and The Well-Behaved Girl by Shahriar Abbasi splitting the prize.
       In the categories without winners there were still some honorable mentions -- by works with some intriguing titles: Overview of Practical Anecdotes in the literary criticism section (and who doesn't like their anecdotes to be practical ?); Are Guys from Khazaneh Saved ? in the short story category; and Water Never Dies and You Will Die in Cairo in the 'documentation section'.

       The prize was, of course, named after leading Iranian author Jalal Al-e Ahmad -- nowadays perhaps better known in the US/UK as Simin Daneshvar's husband ? Four of his titles are under review at the complete review, including The Israeli Republic, which was recently brought out by Restless Books.

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

       New Statesman 2015 favourites list

       The past two weeks The Spectator has been having contributors name their best and most overrated books of the year (see my previous mention), and now the New Statesman also gets a nice cast of "friends and contributors" to weigh in on their favorites of the year, in Books of the year: the essential NS reading list.
       Always interesting to see what people come up with -- and these also include some older titles

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21 November 2015 - Saturday

Reading in ... Romania | Petros Markaris Q & A | Murder Most Serene review

       Reading in ... Romania

       The Romanian Gaudeamus International Book and Education Fair runs from 18 through 22 November in Bucharest -- the 22nd edition of the fair.
       At BalkanInsight Marian Chiriac reports Romania Fair Booms in Tough World For Books, as: "The number of people reading literature is constantly falling, official data show".
       Not what you want to hear:
(I)ndustry specialists are pessimistic about the future of reading in Romania as a whole.
       With 39 (!) per cent of Romanians reportedly not having read any books at all last year ... well, that's a shockingly high proportion of the population .....

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

       Petros Markaris Q & A

       Greek mystery writer Petros Markaris recently picked up the Premis LiberPress in the literature category, and at Catalonia Today they have a Q & A with him.
       Among the interesting quotes:
The crime novel is the only social novel left in European literature.
       (And I am surprised that he hasn't gotten more US/UK coverage, as his novels have been among the most insightful about Greek conditions for quite a few years now.)
       Also amusing to hear that, while he does read a lot of crime fiction he admits:
But I am fed up with the Scandinavians
       See also my reviews of his Deadline in Athens and Zone Defence.

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

       Murder Most Serene review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gabrielle Wittkop's Murder Most Serene, one of two Wittkops just out from Wakefield Press in beautiful editions (I'll get to the other one, Exemplary Departures, too; meanwhile, see their publicity page).

       Note that this isn't a murder mystery, at least not anywhere near the traditional sort; this is a book by the author of The Necrophiliac, and with its Sadeian epigraph, is very much in a similar vein .....

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

20 November 2015 - Friday

Zakaria Tamer in ... Sardinian | Prix des libraires du Québec longlists
Private Life review

       Zakaria Tamer in ... Sardinian

       An interesting piece by Alessandro Columbu at Arabic Literature (in English), as he writes On Why I Translated Zakaria Tamer's Stories from Arabic into Sardinian.
       Always good and interesting to see translations into 'smaller' languages -- and always good to see some more Zakaria Tamer getting translated.
       Fortunately, even if you can't read Sardinian, several of his work are available in English translation too: see, for example, Breaking Knees and The Hedgehog.

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

       Prix des libraires du Québec longlists

       The Prix des libraires du Québec is a French-language literary prize (well prizes, in several categories), and it's always interesting to see what they look at on the other side of the Atlantic (québécois writing, for one thing, which doesn't attract too much attention in France proper ...).
       They've now announced their longlists (well, 'listes préliminaires'). The Catégorie Roman québécois introduces many works ... well, which we haven't heard much about. Meanwhile, the Catégorie Roman hors Québec covers everything from a recent Man Booker winner (Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries) to a work by a Nobel laureate (a Toni Morrison) to an Elena Ferrante and Michel Houellebecq's Submission and, oh dear, Andri Snær Magnason's LoveStar.

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

       Private Life review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Josep Maria de Sagarra's classic 1932 novel of Barcelona, Private Life, just out in English from Archipelago Books.

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

19 November 2015 - Thursday

(American) National Book Awards
FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Tropisms review

       (American) National Book Awards

       They've announced the (American) National Book Awards, with Fortune Smiles (by Adam Johnson) winning the fiction prize, and Between the World and Me (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) taking the non category.
       Having read -- indeed, seen -- none of the twenty finalists in the four categories, I'm not well-positioned to comment.

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

       FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

       They've announced the winner of the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, and it's The Rise of the Robots -- just plain Rise of the Robots in its US edition -- (by Martin Ford).
       See the publicity pages at Basic Books and Oneworld, or get your copy at or

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

       Tropisms review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nathalie Sarraute's seminal 1939 work, Tropisms, just re-issued -- perfectly sized -- as a New Direction Pearl.

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

18 November 2015 - Wednesday

Prizes: Hans Christian Andersen Litteraturpris
Whitbread Costa Book Awards shortlists
The Library review

       Prize: Hans Christian Andersen Litteraturpris

       The Hans Christian Andersen Litteraturpris -- not (sigh) to be confused with the Hans Christian Andersen Award -- has announced its 2016 award-winner (though not yet at the official site, last I checked ...), and it's ... Murakami Haruki; see The Japan Times report, Murakami joins ranks of Rowling, Rushdie in winning Danish literary prize.
       This relatively new prize -- Murakami is only the fifth winner of what is now a biennial prize -- is the most unabashedly populistic of the better-known international author prizes, with a line-up of previous winners made up of: Paulo Coelho (2007), J.K.Rowling (2010), Isabel Allende (2012), and Salman Rushdie (2014).
       I suspect this honor doesn't do much -- indeed, is more likely to severely undermine -- whatever Nobel chances and hopes Murakami had: the nearby Swedish Academy is bound to take note, and it's hard to believe they would give the prize to anyone in such award-winner company (Rushdie was a contender through about 1994, and still deserves some feigned consideration for his admirable free-speech support, but the quality of his fiction over the past two decades surely has put him far out of any serious Nobel-running; as to Coelho, Allende, and Rowling ... well, their writing ... says it all, doesn't it ?).

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

       Prize: Whitbread Costa Book Awards shortlists

       The Whitbread Costa Book Awards have announced their shortlists (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).

       This is the prize with five categories -- novel, first novel, biography, poetry, and children's -- where they select a winner in each category (announced 4 January), with those five then pitted against one another for the title of Whitbread Costa Book of the Year (announced 26 January).

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

       The Library review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Zoran Živković's bibliophile sextet, The Library.
       Bonus: the slim and sleek Kurodahan Press edition is appealingly pocket-sized -- making this in every respect the ideal little gift for any book-lover.

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

17 November 2015 - Tuesday

The New York Review of Books archive | 3x Alexievich coming to US
Prix du Meilleur livre étranger
Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts review (and: writing in ... Burma)

       The New York Review of Books archive

       They've announced that The New York Public Library Acquires the Archive of Iconic Publication The New York Review of Books; disappointingly, as noted in The New York Times report, "The library did not disclose the cost of the purchase, which it said would be covered by a private donation" (apparently from Roger Alcaly (who is a sometime NYRoB contributor) and his wife, Helen Bodian).

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

       3x Alexievich coming to US

       The New York Times reports that Nobel Winner Svetlana Alexievich Books to Be Published by Random House, as three old and newer works by the Voices from Chernobyl-author will be published "in the coming years".
       Aside from the recent Second-Hand Time -- which Fitzcarraldo nabbed UK rights for -- they're also publishing what I assume will be a new translation of her mega-selling (in the Soviet Union) War's Unwomanly Face; this has 'long' been available in English -- but only in a (Soviet) Progress Publishers edition; yeah, not many of those in circulation (get your copy, supposedly from for US$3,500.00 or from for a ... bargain £999.11 (last I checked ...)).

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

       Prix du Meilleur livre étranger

       The French prix du Meilleur livre étranger is their one prize solely for foreign literature, awarding a prize for a work of fiction, and a work of non -- and they've announced that: Martin Amis et Christoph Ransmayr, lauréats du Prix du Meilleur livre étranger 2015.
       Yes, Amis' The Zone of Interest beat out ... well, Marilynne Robinson's Lila and a recent Javier Cercas, among others.
       More interesting is Christoph Ransmayr's Atlas of an Anxious Man, which I've mentioned before as possibly being the book to put him back on the US/UK map -- it's due out from Seagull in English next month, and I for one am very much looking forward to it; see the Seagull publicity page (at the University of Chicago Press; I can't find one on site yet), or pre-order your copy at or

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

       Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts review (and: writing in ... Burma)

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ellen Wiles' look at Literary Life in Myanmar Under Censorship and in Transition, in Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts, just out from Columbia University Press, and a welcome look at the local literary scene.

       Amusingly, on the very day I post the review Kanin Srimaneekulroj profiles one of the authors profiled by Wiles, in the Bangkok Post, writing about Myay Hmone Lwin and his NDSP publishing house in A step towards literary freedom.

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

16 November 2015 - Monday

Re-shelving at the NY Public Library
The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies review

       Re-shelving at the NY Public Library

       In The New York Times Tom Mashberg reports that Beneath New York Public Library, Shelving Its Past for High-Tech Research Stacks, as the NYPL is (wisely) moving its research collection back to the 42nd Street branch, where it will be more readily accessible.
To fit all the books in the allotted space, the library will have to abandon its version of the Dewey Decimal System, in which shelving is organized by subject, in favor of a new "high-density" protocol in which all that matters is size.

Books will be stacked by height and tracked by bar code rather than by a subject-based system, making for some odd bookfellows.
       Apparently this system is all the rage, and I suppose in an automated world it makes sense.

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

       The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martin Millar's The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies -- featuring, in it ancient Athenian setting, Aristophanes and Socrates (and Plato, as a young tyke).

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

15 November 2015 - Sunday

'Two Centuries of Indian Print' | Guardian first book award shortlist

       'Two Centuries of Indian Print'

       This sounds promising, as the British Library announces Unlocking India’s printed heritage: 200,000 pages of historic books to be made available online.
       That's a first batch of: "1,000 books in Bengali, amounting to 200,000 pages" that will be digitized, the beginning of an ambitious project:
(A) major programme to share the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1714 to 1914. The collection, which spans at least 22 South Asian languages and millions of pages, is the most significant held anywhere outside the Subcontinent. Many of the books are unique and many are also in delicate condition due to their age, so the mass digitisation of these items will not only make them widely available to people around the world, but will also help preserve the fragile originals for future generations.

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

       Guardian first book award shortlist

       They've announced the 2015 shortlist for the Guardian first book award, and that feature -- in which the authors introduce their work, along with brief extracts of each, is a pretty good overview/introduction.
       None of these titles are under review at the complete review.

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

14 November 2015 - Saturday

Friedrich Ulfers Prize | Best and most overrated of 2015
Rochester Knockings review

       Friedrich Ulfers Prize

       The Friedrich Ulfers Prize "honors individuals who have championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States", and they've announced that the 2016 prize will go to translator Burton Pike; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       He'll get the US$5,000 award on 25 February 2016, at the opening of the Festival Neue Literatur in New York.

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

       Best and most overrated of 2015

       As the end of the year approaches (but, hey, it's still like almost seven weeks away ...) the 'best of the year'-lists begin to proliferate.
       More fun than the institutional ones (Publishers Weekly, Amazon, etc.) are the ones where individual authors and critics select their favorites -- and , better yet, the ones they think are overrated. The Spectator offers some of that with the first batch of their Books of the Year: the best and most overrated of 2015, with a fine cast of selectors -- but far too few who are willing to go on record with what they think is overrated .....

       (Updated - 20 November): See now also the second batch, A further selection of books of the year -- the best and most overrated of 2015.

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

       Rochester Knockings review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Novel of the Fox Sisters, Hubert Haddad's Rochester Knockings -- a French novel, much of which takes place in Rochester NY, now published in English by Rochester-based Open Letter (and a welcome dose of the prolific but grievously under-translated Haddad's work in English).

       (Updated - 15 November): See now also Rachel Deahl's Publishers Weekly piece on how An Upstate Press Finds a Potential Local Hit in France.

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

13 November 2015 - Friday

Prizes: Premio Cervantes - ECI Literatuurprijs - Taiwan Literature Awards
Etisalat Prize longlist | The book market in ... the Arab world
Death by Water review

       Prize: Premio Cervantes

       The Premio Cervantes is the leading Spanish-language author prize, and they've announced that Fernando del Paso has won the 2015 prize.
       As you can see from that list of previous winners, they do a pretty good job of selecting the most worthy authors, and he is certainly a fine choice; apparently among the other contenders this year were Ricardo Piglia, A Thousand Deaths Plus One-author Sergio Ramírez, and Ida Vitale.
       Dalkey Archive Press has published two of Fernando del Paso's great novels, Palinuro of Mexico and News from the Empire (get your copy at or; both are highly recommended.

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

       Prize: ECI Literatuurprijs

       What used to be the AKO Literatuurprijs is now the ECI Literatuurprijs; regardless, the €50,000 prize remains one of the biggest Dutch fiction prizes -- and they've announced that Het hout, by Jeroen Brouwers, takes this year's prize.
       See the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page on the book.
       Brouwers' Sunken Red was published in English quite a while back (from Peter Owen in the UK), but seems to have sunk out of print ages ago too; get your copy at or

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

       Prize: Taiwan Literature Awards

       They've announced the winners of the 2015 Taiwan Literature Awards (台灣文學金典獎), with The Man with the Compound Eyes-author Wu Ming-yi taking the fiction prize; see also the Taiwan Today report, NMTL unveils Taiwan literature award winners.

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

       Etisalat Prize longlist

       They've announced the nine-title longlist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature -- which is:
the first pan-African prize that is open solely to debut fiction writers of African citizenship and has now established itself as the most prestigious literary prize for African fiction.
       I'm not so sure about that last bit, but admirably they've at least expanded the field: apparently no longer do the submitted titles have to be written in English (just available in English ...) -- which means a very worthy title such as Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila made the longlist.
       The nine titles were selected from: "a field of over 100 titles submitted from across the continent" -- though regrettably we are not informed what those titles are. It's also a bit disappointing to see that six of the nine finalists are by South African authors, and that only three nations are represented on the longlist (which seems rather few for a prize with pan-African aspirations).
       And pity the poor judges now, who: "have the task of selecting a shortlist of three at a retreat in the Seychelles in December".

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

       The book market in ... the Arab world

       At Amira Elmasry reports on: 'the current limitations of the Arab book market and possible means of promoting its expansion', in (Not) an unlimited book market ?

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

       Death by Water review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Ōe Kenzaburō's just-translated Death by Water.
       Good to see this in English, though it's a bit disappointing that far from all of Ōe's books have made it into English -- including さようなら、私の本よ !, yet another novel featuring his alter ego Kogito Choko; of the half-dozen Choko-novels only The Changeling and now Death by Water (the first and fifth) have been translated into English so far.

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

12 November 2015 - Thursday

Prizes: Goldsmiths Prize - Oceanos finalists

       Prize: Goldsmiths Prize

       The Goldsmiths Prize -- £10,000 awarded to: "a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best" -- has announced that the 2015 prize goes to Beatlebone, by Kevin Barry.
       See the publicity pages from Doubleday (this US edition is coming out just next week) and Canongate, or get your copy at or

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

       Prize: Oceanos finalists

       The Oceanos - Prêmio de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa is Brazil-based but open to any Portuguese-language literature. Really open: admirably, and like every literary prize should (but far too few do ...), it reveals all the books in the running for the prize -- in this case 592 submissions (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) (putting the Man Booker to shame both in the number of titles considered, and in its openness in admitting what those titles are).
       The 100,000 reais (a bit more than US$25,000, currently) prize has a decent track record: winners include Gonçalo M. Tavares (2007, with Jerusalem) and Chico Buarque (2010). They've now announced this year's fourteen finalists (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) (and Buarque again is in the running).

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

11 November 2015 - Wednesday

Prizes: Jan Michalski finalists - Giller Prize - Warwick Prize for Writing

       Prize: Jan Michalski finalists

       The Jan Michalski Prize for Literature honors (with CHF 50,000) a work: "of fiction or non fiction, irrespective of the language in which it is written" annually; Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's The Colonel won in 2013.
       They are unfortunately not very good about getting the word out, and I missed the announcements (if there were any ...) of both the first and the second selections of the jury -- and now also the announcement of the three finalists.
       Two non-fiction titles are in the remaining running, a book by this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade-winner, Navid Kermani, and Mark Thompson's Danilo Kiš-biography, Birth Certificate (see the Cornell University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or The other finalist is by another German-writing author, Bagdad Marlboro, by Najem Wali -- subtitled: 'A novel for Bradley Manning'.

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

       Prize: Giller Prize

       They've announced that the C$100,000 (Canadian) Giller Prize goes to Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis; see the Coach House Books publicity page, or get your copy at or
       It does sound quite fun; I will try to have a look at it.

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

       Prize: Warwick Prize for Writing

       The biennial £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing, awarded: "for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language" -- this year on the theme of "'instinct', the unspoken and deep-lying motivation for good deeds and evil acts" --, has announced that the 2015 winner is Redeployment, a story-collection by Phil Klay.

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

10 November 2015 - Tuesday

International Dublin Literary Award nominations
So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood review

       International Dublin Literary Award nominations

       The -- now IMPAC-less (they pulled their sponsorship) -- International Dublin Literary Award, the €100,000 prize which has "libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world" ("in 118 cities and 44 countries", this time around) nominate novels: "first published in English between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014" (and, if translated, "first published in a language other than English between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2014"), has now announced the 160 nominated titles for the 2016 prize.
       Almost a third -- 53 titles -- are translations, from an impressive 19 languages. And yet the nominations also expose the weakness of the system: yes, there are translations from the Georgian (White Lama, by Merab Ratishvili; see the prize page) which you can't even find on (and which was of course nominated by a Georgian library), and from the Malay (two, even -- both, unsurprisingly nominated by the National Library of Malaysia, but, hey at least The Michelangelo Code (seriously ? this is what they nominate ?) is available from and, and the Serbian (three, even -- but, of course, all nominated by the Serbian and Montenegrin nominating libraries ...).
       But translations from the Arabic ?
       Translations from the Chinese ?
       Translations from the Korean ?
       Translations from the Japanese ?
       Hey ! One.
       Yes, unsurprisingly these languages are those of countries not well-represented among the nominating libraries (though there is a Chinese library -- which admirably did not go all ridiculously nationalist, as so many other libraries did, and chose not to nominate a Chinese title). Still, this has been a problem with the prize for many, many years and you would have thought they would have tried to do something about it by now.

       So the 160 titles are, as usual, a very , very mixed bag -- I'm shocked by some of the nominated titles, but there's certainly some decent stuff here, too. There are also some conspicuous absences, including titles by Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard.

       Twenty of the titles (and 17 of the 53 translations) are under review at the complete review:        Not many of these I'd really like to see take the prize, but it's good that deserving books that didn't get enough attention when they came out -- notably the Verhulst and the Echenoz -- might get a bit more notice, or that the Coovadia might now attract some US/UK publisher ....

       The shortlist -- "up to a maximum of ten titles" -- will be announced 12 April 2016, and the winner will be announced on 9 June.

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

       So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano's recent (2014) novel, So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood.

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

9 November 2015 - Monday

Schweizer Buchpreis | Library of Korean Literature roundtable
Arno Schmidt, a year on | The Mark and the Void review

       Schweizer Buchpreis

       The Swiss Book Prize -- which should be the Swiss German Book Prize, since it is for a German-language Swiss book -- has announced its 2015 winner, and it is Eins im Andern, by Monique Schwitter; see also the (English) author information-page at publisher Droschl.
       One of her earlier titles, Goldfish Memory, is actually available in English -- Parthian Books admirably brought it our earlier this year; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Library of Korean Literature roundtable

       At Public Books they have a Virtual Roundtable on the Library of Korean Literature, as 'Koreanists and scholars of world literature reflect on five writers recently published in the Library of Korean Literature series by Dalkey Archive Press'.
       Three of the five discussed titles are also under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Arno Schmidt, a year on

       I published my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy a year ago, and at the time expressed the ambition (and hope and expectation) that I would sell fifty copies in the first year; amazingly, the book has sold exactly fifty copies in that time (28 print copies and 22 e-editions).
       I also predicted that if/when John E. Woods' translation of Zettel's Traum (Bottom's Dream) comes out I would shift another hundred copies; I wonder how close to that mark I will be.

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

       The Mark and the Void review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Paul Murray's new novel, The Mark and the Void.

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

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