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23 January 2019 - Wednesday

NBCC finalists | Edgar® Awards finalists | On Wandsworth Bridge review

       NBCC finalists

       The (American) National Book Critics Circle has announced the thirty-one finalists in six categories -- fiction, non, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry.
       None of the books are under review at the complete review .....
       The winners will be announced 14 March.

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       Edgar® Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar® Awards.
       The only title under review at the complete review is a nominee in the Best Paperback Original-category, Leila Slimani's The Perfect Nanny (published in the UK as Lullaby).
       The winners will be announced on 25 April.

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       On Wandsworth Bridge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hattie Pond's On Wandsworth Bridge.

       This novel came out -- posthumously -- from Sylph Editions last year. It did get a -- very positive -- review in the Literary Review, but doesn't seem to have gotten much attention otherwise, certainly not in the US. A shame -- it's a good read. Hard to categorize -- or rather, too easy too categorize, as doing so probably gives the wrong impression.
       Amusingly, too, it's the second novel I've read in the past two months in which a significant part of the action takes place in Nouakchott -- and the rest of Mauritania (the other being The Desert and the Drum).

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22 January 2019 - Tuesday

Sapir Prize | Society of Authors' Translation Prize shortlists
Deutscher Krimi Preis

       Sapir Prize

       They've announced that this year's Sapir Prize for Literature, a leading Israeli literary prize, goes to a short-story collection by Etgar Keret, תקלה בקצה הגלקסיה ('A Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy'); see, for example, The Jerusalem Post report
       See also the publisher's publicity page; no doubt this will be out in English fairly soon too.

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       Society of Authors' Translation Prize shortlists

       The Society of Authors' Translation Prizes will be handed out on 13 February; one winner has already been announced -- the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from the Arabic -- but the others haven't yet. I can't recall them ever conveniently reveling all the shortlisted titles on one page/in one post, but they have this year, in The Translation Prizes 2018 shortlists, for all seven of the prizes being awarded this year.
       Two of the Schlegel-Tieck Prize-finalists, for translation from the German, are under review at the complete review: Tess Lewis' translation of Kruso, by Lutz Seiler (the 2014 German Book Prize-winner that has bafflingly attracted almost no US review notice ...) and Stefan Tobler's translation of The Old King in his Exile, by Arno Geiger (which has also gotten very little US-notice ...).
       One finalist for the Premio Valle Inclán Prize, for translation from the Spanish, is also under review: Simon Deefholts and Kathryn Phillips-Miles' translation of Inventing Love by José Ovejero.

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       Deutscher Krimi Preis

       They've announced the winners of this year's German Mystery Prize -- not yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, the (German) Deutschlandfunk Kultur report, which includes a Q & A with juror Sonja Hartl.
       The German-language winner was Mexikoring, by Simone Buchholz, the sixth in the ... state prosecutor Chastity Riley series; see the Suhrkamp foreign rights page. Several of her books have been published by Orenda Books, who also have the English-language rights to this one. (I'm almost tempted to pick one of these up just to find out what the story is behind the main character's name.)
       The international category was won by Yokoyama Hideo's Six Four.

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21 January 2019 - Monday

Books-from-around-the-world preview | Mala Vida review

       Books-from-around-the-world preview

       The New York Times has a 'sneak preview of books coming out in 2019 from around the world', Globetrotting.
       An interesting variety -- though far from all the good things we can look forward to; check out the Translation Database at Publishers Weekly, currently listing 166 titles in translation coming out in 2019 (with more no doubt to be added). (Not all The New York Times' suggestions are works in translation, however.)
       (And as far as the national attributions go: sorry, but just because the city where Gregor von Rezzori was born is now part of Ukraine does not make him Ukrainian .....)

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       Mala Vida review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marc Fernandez's Mala Vida, just out from Arcade.
       This is a French thriller, but, while there are some brief French detours, it takes place in Spain -- and very much addresses Spanish issues.

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20 January 2019 - Sunday

Pascale Casanova profile | Shahad Al Rawi Q & A | One Part Woman review

       Pascale Casanova profile

       The World Republic of Letters-author Pascale Casanova died last fall, and in the Irish Times Joe Cleary now profiles Pascale Casanova: A French champion of Irish literature.

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       Shahad Al Rawi Q & A

       In Egypt Today Raya Al-Jadir has An hour with Shahad Al Rawi -- the author of The Baghdad Clock; see the Oneworld publicity page, or get your copy at or

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       One Part Woman review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Perumal Murugan's One Part Woman, now also out in a US edition, and coming soon to the UK.

       I'm somewhat surprised (and embarrassed) to find that this is actually the first translation from the Tamil under review at the complete review; with reviews of books translated from eight Indian languages (Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu) -- as well as Sanskrit -- I'm astounded I didn't get to anything Tamil earlier. (The Indian language with the most speakers that is now not represented is ... Gujarati.)

       The sequels -- two alternate ones -- to this just came out in English in India (Trial by Silence (see the Penguin India publicity page) and A Lonely Harvest (see the Penguin India publicity page); I hope we'll see those in the US/UK soon too.

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19 January 2019 - Saturday

Japanese literary prizes | Jerusalem Prize | New Asymptote

       Japanese literary prizes

       They've announced the winners of the Akutagawa and Naoki literary awards, two of the leading Japanese literary awards. Ueda Takahiro's ニムロッド and Machiya Ryohei's 1R1分34秒 won the Akutagawa, and Shindo Junjo's 宝島 took the Naoki Prize; see, for example, the Kyodo report, here in The Japan Times

       None of these author have had books published in translation yet, but you can find information at Books from Japan about Shindo and Ueda.

       Several previous Akutagawa-winners are under review at the complete review.

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       Jerusalem Prize

       They've announced that Joyce Carol Oates will receive this year's Jerusalem Prize, a prestigious biennial award handed out at the Jerusalem International Book Forum -- on 12 May, this year.
       No word yet at the official site, but see, for example, Katie Mansfield's report at The Bookseller.
       This prize has an impressive list of previous winners -- and was last awarded (in 2017) to Karl Ove Knausgaard.

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       New Asymptote

       The January 2019 issue of Asymptote is now up; a lot of great material, from all over -- good weekend reading.

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18 January 2019 - Friday

Grand Prix suisse de littérature | EBRD Literature Prize longlist
Kotob Khan profile | Arno Schmidt at 105
A German Officer in Occupied Paris review

       Grand Prix suisse de littérature

       They've announced the 2019 winner of the Grand Prix suisse de littérature -- Zsuzsanna Gahse -- and the seven prix suisse de littérature winners.
       One of Zsuzsanna Gahse's works is available in English: Volatile Texts -- from Dalkey Archive Press (of course ...): see their publicity page, or get your copy at or (I have this, but haven't gotten to it yet -- but it sounds intriguing.)

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       EBRD Literature Prize longlist

       They've announced the ten-title longlist for this year's EBRD Literature Prize, which promotes: "translated literary fiction from its regions of operations" (an eclectic selection of some thirty countries).
       The only one of the titles under review at the complete review is The Devils' Dance by Hamid Ismailov, translated by Donald Rayfield.
       A three-title shortlist will be announced 18 February, and the winner will be announced 7 March.

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       Kotob Khan profile

       In The National M. Lynx Qualey profiles Kotob Khan Publishing, The small Cairo bookshop that grew to be a publishing powerhouse -- who now also have a book longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

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       Arno Schmidt at 105

       It's Arno Schmidt's 105th birthday !
       Disappointed by the lack of US/UK notice when he hit a hundred, I published a little monograph later that year, Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy; it's nice to see continued interest in it -- three copies sold last month ! -- with a total of 135 copies shifted to date (get your copy at or (I had guessed it might hit 150, on the coattails of John E. Woods' epochal translation of Bottom's Dream, which came out soon after, but that book -- though it seems to have sold out its first printing -- didn't get nearly the attention I expected and it deserved .....)
       There doesn't seem to be much anniversary-activity this year -- except that in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Tilman Spreckelsen announces that his work will be put online on the occasion. I'm not sure what that means, but certainly curious .....

       (Updated): Now revealed what's up at the Arno-Schmidt-Stiftung site, and while it's not exactly Schmidt's work in its entirety, this Bargfelder Ausgabe Ein elektronisches Findmittel is still pretty awesome: a search engine that covers the collected edition, with the search results displayed on reproductions of the relevant pages (take it out for a spin to see -- and be impressed by -- what that looks like). This looks like a fantastic resource; I've certainly immediately bookmarked it.

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       A German Officer in Occupied Paris review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ernst Jünger's A German Officer in Occupied Paris: The War Journals, 1941-1945.

       Quite a bit of Jünger's work has been translated into English -- Storm of Steel, obviously (as a Penguin Modern Classics), as well as everything from The Glass Bees (a New York Review Books classic) to The Worker: Dominion and Form, recently from Northwestern University Press -- but this is, amazingly, the first translation of this, just out from Columbia University Press. Good to see it's already gotten considerable review-attention; interesting to note the UK press has been interested in it than US reviewers, so far.

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17 January 2019 - Thursday

Translating from ... Japanese Q & As
Translating from ... Zulu | Takis Würger's Stella

       Translating from ... Japanese Q & As

       At The Sun Daily S. Indra Sathiabalan has a Q &A with Murakami Haruki-translator Philip Gabriel.
       Several books he mentions are under review at the complete review, from the first translation-from-the-Japanese he read (Kawabata Yasunari's Snow Contry) to his own first full-length novel translation (Shimada Masahiko's Dream Messenger).

       Meanwhile, at Books and Bao Will Harris has a Q & A with Morgan Giles -- whose translation of Yu Miri's Tokyo Ueno Station is due out sonn (and which I should be getting to soon, too).

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       Translating from ... Zulu

       In the Mail & Guardian Sandile Ngidi writes about how Translating Nyembezi no walk in the park -- as he translated Sibusiso Nyembezi's The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg for much-missed Aflame Books over a decade ago.

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       Takis Würger's Stella

       Takis Würger's bestselling fiction debut, The Club, is coming out in English shortly -- see the Grove publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or -- but his next novel, Stella, just came out in German and, as Petra Lambeck reports at Deutsche Welle, Novel based on Jew 'catcher' Stella Kübler stirs controversy
       "An abomination in children's book style" is the quote from the review in Die Zeit .....
       I'm not sure the Hanser foreign rights page description helps:
A story about fear and hope, a dancing SS man, squirrels and betrayal. A story based on true events.
       (I have The Club, and will give that a go -- but I'm passing on Stella, now and when the English version (rights have apparently already been sold, also to Grove) comes out.)

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16 January 2019 - Wednesday

African literature in ... China | Bibliomania exhibit | やさしい訴え review

       African literature in ... China

       At Quartz Africa Abdi Latif Dahir reports how Chimamanda Adichie is leading the rise of an African literature wave in China -- based on Bruce Humes' work at his weblog, specifically his 2018 Round-up: AfroLit in Chinese Translation.

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       Bibliomania exhibit

       Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library the exhibit Bibliomania; or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance opens on Friday, and runs through 21 April.
       The exhibit is presented as four case studies; see also the Yale News report by Michael Morand, Beinecke Library exhibition invites bibliomaniacs to go mad for books.

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       やさしい訴え review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ogawa Yoko's 1996 novel やさしい訴え.

       This is the ninth Ogawa title under review at the complete review -- of which five are not available in English translation yet. Another Ogawa title is coming in translation this summer -- The Memory Police; see the publicity pages from Pantheon and Harvill Secker -- but US/UK publishers remain way behind in bringing this versatile and interesting author to audiences .....

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15 January 2019 - Tuesday

Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist | Wingate Prize shortlist

       Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

       They've announced that the 2018 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation will go to Luke Leafgren for his translation of Muhsin Al-Ramli's The President's Gardens.
       See also the MacLehose Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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       Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019 longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize, a UK prize for: "the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees".
       Only one of the titles is under review at the complete review -- Doppelgänger, by Daša Drndić; indeed, that's the only one of all of these I've seen .....
       The shortlist will be announced 2 March, and the winner on 28 March.

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       Wingate Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for the JQ Literary Wingate Prize -- a UK prize: "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader".
       The winner will be announced 25 February.

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14 January 2019 - Monday

The Hindu Prize | Censorship in ... China | The Mongolian Travel Guide review

       The Hindu Prize

       They've announced the winners of The Hindu Prize, one of the leading Indian literary prizes -- see, for example, The Hindu's report.
       Requiem in Raga Janki, by Neelum Saran Gour, won the fiction prize; see also the Penguin India publicity page, or get your copy at or

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       Censorship in ... China

       In The Atlantic Amy Hawkins and Jeffrey Wasserstrom suggest that: 'Censorship in the country is more complicated than many Westerners imagine', as they explain Why 1984 Isn't Banned in China.

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       The Mongolian Travel Guide review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Svetislav Basara's The Mongolian Travel Guide.

       No, this is not a travel guide; it's another novel by Basara -- great to see Dalkey Archive Press bringing out more by him, and this one is one I have long been looking forward to.

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13 January 2019 - Sunday

Science fiction in ... China | Benyamin on renewal | The Waiter review

       Science fiction in ... China

       At Factor Daily Gautham Shenoy goes about Telling the China Story: The Rise and Rise of Chinese Science Fiction.
       Shenoy notes brief bursts of science fiction popularity over the past century, but suggests:
It was only to be in the early 1990s when Chinese science fiction would enter an uninterrupted golden age
       Liu Cixin, especially with the trilogy that begins with The Three-Body Problem, has been the international stand-out, but there's other work of interest too.
       Among the titles mentioned in the piece is Chan Koonchung's The Fat Years; I also have the anthology The Reincarnated Giant (see the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or, which looks intriguing.

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       Benyamin on renewal

       Goat Days-author Benyamin writes Gained in translation: A promise to renew in the Indian Express.
       Rather too much focus on (and concern about) readers for my taste -- "Crucial to the writer’s evolution is the need to self-introspect and analyse whether the works are acceptable to her/his new readers" -- but certainly of interest.

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       The Waiter review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Matias Faldbakken's The Waiter, recently out in English.

       Yes, yet another Norwegian !
       This is the first of Faldbakken's novels to be available in English translation -- but he was one of the few (then-still-)untranslated authors I included in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- because of his trilogy (published under the pseudonym Abu Rasol, which still hasn't quite made it into English) and because he was an obvious contrast to his father, himself a well-known author (and more of whose books have been translated ...).
       It would be great to see the earlier trilogy in English, too; meanwhile, however, Matias Faldbakken is better-known in the US/UK as an artist -- at, for example, the Paula Cooper Gallery and Simon Lee.

       This is also an unusual book in another respect: the original Norwegian title is actually English -- The Hills, which is the name of the restaurant the waiter-narrator works at. The German translation keeps the title (while the Dutch one oddly opts for De Hills); in the US/UK they presumably decided the confusion with a TV show of the same name would be too confusing .....

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12 January 2019 - Saturday

Sahitya Akademi goes more commercial
The book industry in ... Germany | Bookselling in ... China

       Sahitya Akademi goes more commercial

       India's National Academy of Letters, Sahitya Akademi, has long published books -- apparently: "about 500 books annually in 24 languages" -- but mostly just sold them themselves -- but now, as, for example, Vanita Srivastava reports in the Hindustan Times, Sahitya Akademi books to go online for wider reach, sell in 24 languages.
       Selling on Amazon seems to be the first step -- not entirely encouraging, but their: "aim is to sell physical books via portals", so hopefully that also extends beyond the one juggernaut.
       In any case, making it easier to find and purchase these titles is certainly a great step.

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       The book industry in ... Germany

       At Deutsche Welle Jochen Kürten offers an overview of The German book market: Between crisis and hope.
       Total sales in 2017 of €9.1 billion were down 2.3%, while book prices rose 1.7%; 82,636 titles were released -- considerably down from ca. 95,000 a decade ago .....
       As far as the export-market goes, 7,856 works "found their way into non-German languages in 2017" -- but:
In the US and Great Britain, there simply is not enough interest in German books. At least in this area Donald Trump does not have to be afraid of the German export economy.

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       Bookselling in ... China

       Xinhua reports China boasts more bookstores, increasing sales -- "225,000 bookstores and sales outlets for books at the end of 2018, a 4.3-percent increase from the previous year", which certainly sounds good.

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11 January 2019 - Friday

PEN Pinter Prize speech | Prix du Livre étranger JDD/France Inter
The Fetishists review

       PEN Pinter Prize speech

       Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's PEN Pinter Prize speech has been available to watch or listen to at the English PEN site for a while, but for those (like me) who prefer text, the New Statesman now helpfully prints Shut up and write: Art, citizenship and what it means to be "an African writer".

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       Prix du Livre étranger JDD/France Inter

       They've announced the winner of the prix du Livre étranger JDD/France Inter, a French foreign fiction prize -- and it goes to Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's The Fact of a Body; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Translated from the English, it is of course available in English; see the Flatiron publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Among the finalists it beat out is Ma Jian's China Dream, Katharine Dion's The Dependents, and two novels not yet available in English: Kaspar Colling Nielsen's Det europæiske forår (see the Salomonsson Agency information page) and Michal Ben-Naftali's המורה (forthcoming from Open Letter; see the ITHL information page).

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       The Fetishists review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ibrahim al-Koni's The Fetishists: The Tuareg Epic.

       This came out in William M. Hutchins' translation from the University of Texas Press in November and is surely one of the major translations of 2018, though it seems to have been ... somewhat slow to attract interest so far.
       Several other works by al-Koni have been translated into English -- including the more recent trilogy also brought out by the University of Texas Press (The Puppet; New Waw, Saharan Oasis; and The Scarecrow), which I also have, and should be getting to -- and he has gotten some critical attention, notably also being named a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize (when it was still an author prize). Still, his work seems to be flying a bit under the radar in the US/UK. I'm not sure this one can change that -- it is his magnum opus, but it is not the most approachable of works, and one can magine reviewers and readers being a bit hesitant about the commitment. Still, this is a significant work, a major literary work, and it really does deserve more attention
       It did not make the PEN Translation Prize longlist; it will be interesting to say whether the Best Translated Book Awards include it in their twenty-five-title longlist (the announcement of which is still a few months away). Not easy going, but I think this is a very hard book to ignore .....

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10 January 2019 - Thursday

RBC Taylor Prize finalists | National Jewish Book Awards
The year in reading at other weblogs

       RBC Taylor Prize finalists

       They've announced the five finalists for this year's RBC Taylor Prize, a Canadian prize awarded: "to enhance public appreciation for the genre known as literary non-fiction".
       The winner will be announced 4 March.

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       National Jewish Book Awards

       They've announced the winners (and finalists) for the 2018 National Jewish Book Awards, which has quite a few categories.
       Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld -- a work in translation -- was named the Jewish Book of the Year, while Michael David Lukas' The Last Watchman of Old Cairo won the Fiction category. There's also an award, the 'Paper Brigade for New Israeli Fiction', for an untranslated work.

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       The year in reading at other weblogs

       A couple of days ago I posted on 2018 in review at the complete review; here are some year-at-the-site and year-in-reading overviews from other weblogs:
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9 January 2019 - Wednesday

The Millions' 'Most Anticipated' | Yi Sang Literary Award
City of Refuge review

       The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'

       I've posted links to 2019-previews of books to look forward to -- here and here -- and now The Millions offers its Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2019 Book Preview of over 120 books.
       A good overview -- though there are a lot more independent press titles deserving of attention .....

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       Yi Sang Literary Award

       As Kwak Yeon-soo reports in The Korea Times, Novelist Yun I-hyeong wins 43rd Yi Sang Literary Award -- a leading South Korean literary prize -- with 그들의 첫 번째와 두 번째 고양이 ('Their First and Second Cat').
       Previous winners of this prize include Yi Mun-yol (for Our Twisted Hero), The Vegetarian-author Han Kang, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-author Kim Young-ha, and City of Ash and Red-author Pyun Hye-young.
       Several of Yun I-hyeong's works have been translated into English -- get, e.g. Danny at --, but not by any commercial US/UK publisher, but I imagine that will change (eventually ...).

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       City of Refuge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kitakata Kenzo's City of Refuge.
       Vertical brought this out in 2012 -- one of four of his titles they've published in English (all are under review at the complete review) -- and I'm surprised he hasn't caught on at least a bit more in English.

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8 January 2019 - Tuesday

IPAF longlist | Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners

       IPAF longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction, sixteen novels selected from 134 entries.
       Six authors have previously been longlisted for the prize, and nine countries are represented (including Eritrea, by Huji Jaber).
       A six-title shortlist will be announced on 5 February, while the winner will be announced 23 April.

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       Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners

       The Whitbread Costa Book Awards have announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the five category-winners -- First Novel (The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (published in the US as The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ...)), Novel (Normal People by Sally Rooney), Biography, Poetry, and Children's. See also, for example, Alison Flood's overview in The Guardian, Costa first novel award winner recalls 'awful' time writing his book.
       These five now compete head-to-head, the winner to be named, on 29 January, the Costa Book of the Year.

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7 January 2019 - Monday

Les Murray tributes | Stanisław Lem profile | Nayantara Sahgal disinvited
A Mysterious Affair of Style review

       Les Murray tributes

       The great Les Murray has stepped down as poetry editor of Quadrant -- after twenty-eight years ! -- and they have a nice and very extensive selection of tributes In Praise of Les Murray there now.

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

       Stanisław Lem profile

       At The New Yorker's Culture Desk Paul Grimstad has a nice overview of The Beautiful Mind-Bending of Stanislaw Lem.

       Lem is one of those authors where I read practically everything that was available (mainly in German translation, in which a lot more was available) before I started the site -- close to forty books, and over ten thousand pages worth -- which is why there are no reviews up beyond Peter Swirski's A Stanislaw Lem Reader, but he's certainly an author I'd like to revisit (including the English translation of his Summa Technologiae, and of course the wonderful fictional book review volume, A Perfect Vacuum).

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

       Nayantara Sahgal disinvited

       Ninety-one-year-old (!) Nayantara Sahgal was invited to inaugurate an Indian literary festival -- but, as now reported (by the PTI, here at the Business Standard), Literature fest withdraws invite to writer Nayantara Sahgal after threat.
       Apparently, her criticism of the Narendra Modi government is just too great a risk .....

       (Updated): Here is what she was going to say: Nayantara Sahgal's speech for Marathi Sahitya Sammelan: In some cases, our duty to hurt sentiments (at the Indian Express).

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

       A Mysterious Affair of Style review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second in Gilbert Adair's Evadne Mount trilogy, A Mysterious Affair of Style -- with a review of the final volume to follow soon.

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

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