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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review


15 August 2020 - Saturday

Alexievich on Lukashenka | '11 best Arabic novels' | Not a Novel review

       Alexievich on Lukashenka

       Longtime Belrusian leader and serial election-cheat Alyaksandr Lukashenka is getting a lot of blowback for his latest attempted rigging, and at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Yury Drakakhrust reports how also Nobel Laureate Alexievich Says Lukashenka Has 'Declared War' On Belarusian People.
       She's quoted as calling upon this totalitarian holdover to:
Leave before it's too late, before you have plunged the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war
       One hopes the overwhelming show of opinion against him leads him to do the right thing. Maybe he can go join former Spanish monarch Juan Carlos -- wherever he is .....

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



       '11 best Arabic novels'

       Lots of caveats -- "available in English translation and have either won or been shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction prize" -- but IPAF administrator Fleur Montanaro suggests on how to: 'Travel to the Arab world without a passport:' the 11 best Arabic novels that are available in English
       (Somewhat surprisingly, none of these are under review at thecomplete review -- though quite a bit of Arabic literature is.)

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



       Not a Novel review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jenny Erpenbeck's Not a Novel -- subtitled A Memoir in Pieces in the US and Collected Writings and Reflections in the UK.

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



14 August 2020 - Friday

A User's Manual review

       A User's Manual review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jiří Kolář's A User's Manual, which Twisted Spoon Press brought out in a nice edition last year.

       Lots of Kolář-collages to this, but it's well worth looking around the internet for more examples of his (art) work -- these pieces at Everything Czech and Apollo are a good place to start.

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



13 August 2020 - Thursday

Arab women writers in translation | Kenneth Bernard (1930-2020)
The Corporation Wars: Dissidence review

       Arab women writers in translation

       At Al-Fanar Media M. Lynx Qualey finds Arab Women Writers Struggle to Get the Readers They Deserve -- noting that as far as translations from the Arabic go, the usual (terrible) trends hold -- far more works by men than women get translated -- and: "Women's books that are translated from Arabic to English also face an additional set of obstacles".
       She also looks at the situation in reverse, noting that as far as translation into Arabic the selection also tends to be significantly male-weighted.

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



       Kenneth Bernard (1930-2020)

       Okay, maybe a bit niche -- but I'm still shocked that I only learn of Kenneth Bernard's death via French literary reports; see, for example, Victor De Sepausy's Mort de Kenneth Bernard, écrivain qui “échappait aux standards habituels” at ActuaLitté.
       He's best known for his plays -- especially his work with/at La Mama -- but see also, for example, his novel, From the District File, which was published by FC2; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       The Corporation Wars: Dissidence review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first in Ken MacLeod's trilogy, The Corporation Wars: Dissidence.

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



12 August 2020 - Wednesday

Maryse Condé Q & A | Disappointing China Literature results
Literary magazines in ... India

       Maryse Condé Q & A

       At PEN Transmissions Will Forrester offers: When I Stop Writing, I Stop Living: An Interview with Maryse Condé.

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



       Disappointing China Literature results

       Leading online literature portal and writing platform China Literature has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) its unaudited consolidated results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, and they ain't pretty: as Patrick Frater reports in Variety: Tencent's China Literature Crashes to $465 Million Loss. (China Literature is majority-owned by Tencent but also HKEX-listed.)
       As CEO Ed Cheng Wu noted:
The disappointing results made us realize that the lack of resilience of our underlying business model and our structural issues that have piled up over the recent years.
       You can also read the earnings conference call, where Cheng Wu acknowledged:
In the past, we failed to take full care of our writer's feelings and support them adequately through our incentive program. And some of our writers expressed concerns about the previous version of the writers' contract. Writers are the cornerstone of the China Literature's platform, and we need to do more to enhance their trust.
       I would have thought the lock-down time would have been ideal for this business model, but apparently they were not able to take advantage. It will be interesting to see whether they can turn things around.

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



       Literary magazines in ... India

       At Scroll.in Neha Bhatt reports on: More submissions, fewer readers ? How India's literary magazines are coping with the pandemic

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



11 August 2020 - Tuesday

Pierre Klossowski | Online literary-suicide censorship
Eighteen years of the Literary Saloon

       Pierre Klossowski

       On the occasion of the publication of the English translation -- by Jeremy M. Davies and Anna Fitzgerald -- of Pierre Klossowski's The Suspended Vocation by Small Press Ryan Ruby writes about Pierre Klossowski, Brilliant Brother of Balthus at The New York Review of Books NYR Daily weblog. Meanwhile, at Music & Literature they published Brian Evenson's Introduction to the new translation a few months ago. (And, if you want more, see for example John Taylor on Reading Pierre Klossowski.)
       Certainly an interesting author, and good to see him getting some attention again.

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



       Online literary-suicide censorship

       Other areas -- specifically the political -- where there is censorship are certainly more consequential, but any form of it is disturbing, and, as Jiayun Feng reports at SupChina, now: Censors say no suicide on China's leading online literature site.
       Apparently:
According to some authors, prior to the new policies, it was common sense among them that stories that depicted suicide in a positive light were strictly forbidden on the platform. But the new regulations are troubling because they target any description of the act itself, regardless of the intention or purpose behind it.
       But I was amused by the wag who pointed out:
Now when we read detective fiction on Jinjiang, we can be 100% confident that someone's death is murder rather than suicide

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



       Eighteen years of the Literary Saloon

       The complete review went online twenty-one years ago, in 1999, but this Literary Saloon weblog part of it was only added in 2002 -- the first post appearing 11 August, exactly eighteen years ago today.

       Glad to see you still find it worth visiting !

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



10 August 2020 - Monday

Scrivere Disegnando exhibit | Publishing in ... Bangladesh
Lost Illusions review

       Scrivere Disegnando exhibit

       At the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève the exhibit Scrivere Disegnando: When Language Seeks Its Other runs through 23 August -- and it sounds fascinating
Its aim is to look back over a number of practices, from the early twentieth century to the present day, in which writing leaves the function of communication behind and moves into the sphere of the illegible and unspeakable.
       At hyperallergic Edward M. Gómez offers a nicely-illustrated overview, in When Writing Has No Meaning.

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



       Publishing in ... Bangladesh

       Scroll.in's series: 'on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on publishing' continues with Ahmedur Rashid Tutul looking at Publishing in Bangladesh: Is Covid-19 damaging the good and amplifying the problematic ?

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



       Lost Illusions review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Honoré de Balzac's classic Lost Illusions, in a new translation by Raymond N. MacKenzie, recently from the University of Minnesota Press.

       Amusingly enough, I reviewed the sequel to this, A Harlot High and Low, way back in 2007; Raymond N. MacKenzie has now also translated this and it's coming out, as Lost Souls, also from the University of Minnesota Press, later this year; see their publicity page.

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



9 August 2020 - Sunday

Teaching African literature | Loves That Bind review

       Teaching African literature

       At Africa is a Country Lily Saint and Bhakti Shringarpure wondered: 'What if you survey African literature professors to find out which works and writers are most regularly taught ?' and document the results in African literature is a country.
       Among the conclusions: 'Only a few canonical ones continue to dominate curricula'.
       They surveyed "instructors of African literature at the university level", and received responses from 105 individuals ("mainly residents in the US or Europe", sigh), listing 671 texts. Impressively, 45 of the 54 African countries were represented -- though almost half of the 407 authors of those 671 texts came from just three countries (South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya). Sub-Saharan Africa dominates the reading lists, but three North African nations (Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria) are among the ten nations with the most authors represented.
       While they do reveal that: "the total number of languages of assigned texts was 18" they don't break it down beyond noting:
When it comes to languages, English and French are the source languages of the majority of texts, though a smattering of African languages taught in translation are represented by Acoli, Afrikaans, Arabic, Tigrinya, Xhosa, and Yoruba literary works. A fair number of works written in Spanish and Portuguese are also regularly taught.
       While the authors with the most mentions are not surprising -- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o leading the field, ahead of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee then a distant but still popular fourth -- I was surprised that while two of the other African Nobel laureates both break the top ten (Nadine Gordimer (8th, with 34 mentions) and Wole Soyinka (10th/30 mentions)), the great Naguib Mahfouz apparently is widely considered not to fit the African bill: he doesn't rate among the twenty most taught authors, and none of his works are among the twenty most-taught works. (My guess is that African literature-teachers figure he gets his due/coverage in Arabic literature courses ..... But it's not like Arabic works and authors aren't covered: Season of Migration to the North is the seventh-most-mentioned text, its author Tayeb Salih, almost entirely on the back of that single book, tied for the 18th most-mentioned author.)
       Disappointing also to hear reports such as:
Senegalese writer Boris Boubacar Diop told us that its always the same old texts as well: “African authors are taught in both [Nigeria and Senegal] however they are almost the same ones since the time of independence: Senghor, Beti, Sembene, Kourouma etc. for the ”francophones” et Ngũgĩ, Achebe for the Anglophones.
       This is the first in a series: "which asks how we decolonize literary studies today" and I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest.

       (Coverage of African literature at the complete review is also rather old standards-heavy but you could do worse (like many university African literature departments ?) for a place to start for an overview.)

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



       Loves That Bind review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Julián Ríos' Loves That Bind, in Edith Grossman's translation (she got her name on the cover, too -- but the translation copyright is in Ríos' name).

       This was from the days when Knopf thought Ríos stood a break-out chance; they gave him one more shot at it three years later, with Monstruary, but that was all she wrote; it was back to Dalkey Archive Press (who admirably had already published Larva and Poundemonium) for Ríos .....
       Still, even the literary establishment seemed to think he might have a go at it with this one: this even got the rare The New York Times and The New York Times Book Review review treatment (but, given that it really got the treatment from the Kakutani, that wasn't necessarily a good thing; on the other hand, Steven Moore (of The Novel: An Alternative History) wrote in The Washington Post that: "I live for novels like this one" ...).
       (The Brits, however, never bit: this doesn't appear to have found a UK publisher. And while they even got so far as a cover and an Amazon-listing for a German translation, way back in 2001, Liebe als schöne Kunst seems never to have seen the light of day.)
       And, yes, I will get to Larva, which, whatever else it is, is also amazing. (See the Dalkey Archive publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

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



8 August 2020 - Saturday

Indie non-fiction | The Bookseller sold
NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature postponed
No Room at the Morgue review

       Indie non-fiction

       At Publishers Weekly John Maher and Ed Nawotka report on how Three Indie Presses Make Moves in Nonfiction, as: "Three independent publishing houses best known for their fiction in translation are upping their nonfiction game": Deep Vellum, Europa Editions, and Transit Books.
       My preference of course remains for fiction, but there are some interesting-sounding projects here, including Deep Vellum's Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       The Bookseller sold

       At the leading British trade-publication The Bookseller Philip Jones reports that The Bookseller acquired by publisher of the Stage.
       The Bookseller was launched in 1858 (!); The Stage in 1880.

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



       NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature postponed

       They've announced that this year's NLNG prizes, including the Nigeria Prize for Literature and the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism, have been postponed until next year.
       The literature prize rotates through four categories, year by year, and this was apparently the novel-year; this year's entries will be carried over to next year.

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



       No Room at the Morgue review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean-Patrick Manchette's 1973 novel, No Room at the Morgue, the latest Manchette in translation from New York Review Books.
       Always good to see more Manchette -- and there are a few more to go. Not to mention the nearly thousand-page Journal 1966-1974 -- see the Folio publicity page -- or what about the recently published 'chroniques ludiques' collection, Play it again, Dupont -- see the La Table Ronde publicity page .....

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



7 August 2020 - Friday

CWA Daggers shortlists | Национальный бестселлер
Global Publishing conference | Ottilie Mulzet Q & A

       CWA Daggers shortlists

       The British Crime Writers' Association has announced the shortlists for the CWA Dagger awards, including the six titles left in the running for the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger; only one of these is under review at the complete review, Kike Ferrari's Like Flies From Afar, in Adrian Nathan West's translation.
       The winners are scheduled to be announced on 22 October.

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



       Национальный бестселлер

       They've announced the winner of this year's 'National Bestseller' -- 'NatBest' -- award, a leading Russian prose-book award, and it is The Librarian-author Mikhail Elizarov's Земля.
       See also the mention at Lizok's Bookshelf, and the АСТ publicity page.

       One of the neat/odd things about this award is that the books considered for the prize are nominated by individuals -- prominent authors, critics, publishers, etc.; here is this year's list of nominators and their selections -- and whoever nominated the winning title -- in this case Alexey Kolobrodov -- gets a (one-tenth) share of the 1,000,000 ruble prize.
       Interesting incentives at work in the nominating process there: you want to select a title you think the jurors -- here this year's panel -- will go for (as (possibly) opposed to selecting the title you truly think is best).

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



       Global Publishing conference

       For those looking ahead: this sounds promising: Princeton is organizing a three-day online conference on Global Publishing and the Making of Literary Worlds: Translation, Media, and Mobility which will be held 4 to 6 June 2021.
       They explain:
We expect this conference will break new ground intellectually as its practical publishing sessions offer information and advice to the next generation of scholars who face the ongoing challenges of a shrinking job market and complex publishing landscape.

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



       Ottilie Mulzet Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Chamini Kulathunga has a Q & A with the translator-from-the-Hungarian, English Has Its Own Music: A Conversation with Ottilie Mulzet.

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



5 - 6 August 2020 - Wednesday/Thursday

       This interruption to our regularly scheduled programming was brought to you courtesy of an America made *great* again, where (lack of investment in and upkeep of) infrastructure and entirely inadequate preparations to efficiently respond when (foreseeable) issues do arise can lead to a few downed utility wires causing a 48-hour disruption of electrical power and internet access.

       We apologize for the inconvenience.

- the Management

- permanent link -



4 August 2020 - Tuesday

Naguib Mahfouz Museum | Karl Mickel archive | Manual review

       Naguib Mahfouz Museum

       As Angy Essam reports in Egypt Today Egypt's Naguib Mahfouz Museum to reopen for public on August 2.
       Sure, the Naguib Mahfouz Museum sounds well worth a visit, and it's great to hear it's open again (though I suspect rather few readers will be able to make the trip at this time) -- and Naguib Mahfouz is, after all, the author with the most titles under review at the complete review (26 !) -- but, yes, the main reason I like pointing to this particular institution is to remind readers not to confuse it with the other Naguib Mahfouz Museum, which definitely has a ... different focus.

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



       Karl Mickel archive

       The Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach reports that they've acquired more of the archive of Karl Mickel, who passed away in 2000 and who had left his papers to the archive at the time.
       I don't think there's any author where the ratio of how highly I regard them to how widely (un)known/read they are is as great as it is with Mickel. Other authors have been even more influential and important to me -- say, Peter Weiss or Arno Schmidt -- but they're all (relatively, still) well known (and that's not even mentioning all the obvious and truly well-known and widely read ones). Mickel basically just figures in some German Democratic Republic poetry-surveys -- but I admire his essays, fiction, libretti, and plays greatly as well, and have carried them with me for a long, long time.
       Time to review Lachmunds Freunde, I guess .....

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



       Manual review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Daren King's 2008 novel Manual.

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



3 August 2020 - Monday

The rise of audiobooks | Virginie Despentes Q & A | One Love Chigusa review

       The rise of audiobooks

       In The Observer Alex Preston offers A word in your ear... why the rise of audiobooks is a story worth celebrating.
       Audiobooks were already doing well before things came to a stop, and seem to have done very well in lockdown, too.
       It's great that more people are enjoying books in whatever form -- especially since the increased popularity of the format does not appear to have come at the cost of print-books (i.e. people aren't simply substituting listening for reading), but I have to admit I don't really get it; I can't imagine having the patience to listen to a book being read out loud to me. (Of course, I haven't even had the patience to watch an entire movie over the past few months -- if there's text in reach, that's what I'll turn to (and there's a lot of text piled all around me right now).)

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



       Virginie Despentes Q & A

       The Guardian has a book-focused Q & A with Virginie Despentes: 'Charles Bukowski is my comfort read. He makes me feel good'.
       She has the proper attitude re. books she hasn't read yet: "I never read Joyce, for example. Zero shame. I will read him when the right time comes."

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



       One Love Chigusa review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Shimada Soji's One Love Chigusa, the latest in the wonderful Red Circle Minis series.

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



2 August 2020 - Sunday

Mishima resurgence | Silver Age of Russian poetry
Korean novelists take offense

       Mishima resurgence

       In Metropolis Eric Margolis finds that, with works such as Life for Sale and Star (and The Frolic of the Beasts), 'Fifty years after his death, Yukio Mishima is reemerging in translation', in The Resurgence of a Japanese Literary Master.
       As he notes, for a long time, Mishima has been seen -- because presented -- in a very specific form abroad, as:
a writer of capital-L literary fiction, with dense works and elaborate language, in dense conversation with early 20th century European literature and theories of modernization
       In fact, however, there's a lot more to his work -- because there are a lot more works, most of which we haven't seen in translation: Mishima remains one of the most under-translated modern masters, with only a fraction of his prodigious output available in English.
       (The reason so little has been translated, especially after that first wave of the big, serious works through the early 1970s ? Obviously, publishers long seemed only interested in works that fit the Western image of Mishima (which he himself -- ridiculously image-conscious as he was -- also carefully fostered) -- which much of his very varied output might undermine. But I also note that the Mishima estate is represented by a literary agency, which seems to have a ... not necessarily reader-friendly approach to 'handling' their clients, i.e. seems to have other priorities than actually getting the work out there so it can be read.)

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



       Silver Age of Russian poetry

       At Russia Beyond Alexandra Guzeva explains What makes the Silver Age of Russian poetry so important.
       Symbolism ! Acmeism ! Futurism ! New Peasant Poetry ! Imaginism !

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



       Korean novelists take offense

       Quite the to-do in South Korea, as Kang Hyun-kyung reports in The Korea Times that Novelists call on justice minister to apologize for 'insulting' remarks, as, during a National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee meeting:
[Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae] said sarcastically, "(You're) writing a fiction novel."

Her attitude caused a stir, resulting in the committee meeting being suspended temporarily as opposition lawmakers protested against her unprofessional demeanor. Choo did not back down, criticizing the opposition lawmaker's behavior and claiming his questions were inappropriate.

"Watching her on TV, many novelists were shocked and some even felt insulted," the group said in a statement.

"The justice minister was treating fiction novels as 'lies or something like that.' We realized a tough road is ahead of Korean literature. How could she treat novels as a sort of a lie ? How could the justice minister do that in public, particularly when everybody was watching her on TV and all eyes were on her ? She humiliated novelists who are working hard to write stories amid tough working conditions."
       Yes, Korean Novelists' Association Chairman Kim Ho-un said they felt that this was just going too far:
Previously, there were similar cases in which fiction was mocked but we didn't take any measures. After Choo, we agreed we had to issue a warning.
       So they'll be sending an open letter .....
       We'll see whether that teaches politicians to show a little more respect for fiction and fiction-writers .....

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



1 August 2020 - Saturday

New Mo Yan book | Milan Kundera's private library to MZK
Imaginary Interviews review

       New Mo Yan book

       As, for example, Wu Yan reports at CGTN, Mo Yan publishes first book after winning Nobel Prize in literature.
       Yes, it's been a while -- he won the prize in 2012 -- but now 晚熟的人 -- the title translated (on the cover) as 'A Late Bloomer' --, a collection of twelve novellas, is apparently out (though I couldn't find a listing at the People's Literature Publishing House-site yet).
       No word yet when we can expect an English translation, but I imagine there will be one, sooner rather than later.

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



       Milan Kundera's private library to MZK

       They've announced that Milan Kundera is donating his private library to the Moravská Zemská Knihovna -- the Moravian Regional Library -- in Brno; see also, for example, Ruth Fraňková's Q & A with library director Tomáš Kubíček at Radio Prague International, “It shows his deep roots” – Kundera gifts book collection to library in native Brno

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



       Imaginary Interviews review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of André Gide's wartime collection of Imaginary Interviews.

       I have a weakness for books in dialogue, so of course this was hard to pass up.

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



31 July 2020 - Friday

Svetlana Alexievich Q & A | Bangladeshi fiction and poetry
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi master class

       Svetlana Alexievich Q & A

       At Eurozine they have an English translation of Siarhej Šapran's Q & A with Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, Shards of truth.
       It's an abbreviated version of the Belarusian original, first published in Дзеяслоў, but still quite extensive and well worth a look.

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



       Bangladeshi fiction and poetry

       In the Dhaka Tribune Rifat Anjum Pia offers a useful list in Reading in the time of Corona: English translations of Bangladeshi fiction and poetry.

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



       Mahmoud Dowlatabadi master class

       As Iran Daily reports Author of 'Kelidar' to share literary experiences online, as The Colonel-author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi is doing a three-day online master class on: The Creative Experience of Literature.
       Okay, it is in Persian ..... But it's Dowlatabadi !

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



30 July 2020 - Thursday

Chinese-English writing and translation | Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature
The Remote Country of Women review

       Chinese-English writing and translation

       At the Asymptote blog Jiaoyang Li has a Q & A with Jianan Qian, Na Zhong, and Liuyu Ivy Chen -- "millennial Chinese female writers who [...] write bilingually and translate between their two languages", in A Linguistic Emigration: Chinese Women Writers on Their Translation Practices.
       Lots of interesting stuff here -- and a few things I strongly endorse (as longtime readers would no doubt guess), including Jianan Qian noting:
With due respect to the English publication, I do think English-speaking editors should recognize their ignorance and thus hold more respect for foreign literature.
       And there's Na Zhong:
I do have a few bones to pick with some accepted norms persisting in the English publishing world.

First, the lack of footnotes or endnotes in many translated works. While footnoting is widely accepted in Chinese literature, most English publishers are wary of footnotes for its academic overtones. Instead, they expect the translators to iron out all the odd details that are potentially foreign to the readers. Insert a piece of explainer here, localize one or two slangs there. What you have as a result is a tamed translation, its wildness trimmed to suit the certain tastes of the recipient market. It will lose the power to dazzle, enchant, and, more importantly, offend.

Second, too much liberty has been taken, by either the translators or editors, with the original work.

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



       Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature

       The Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature has been awarded since 1994 -- a sort of Baltic counterpart to the Nordic Council Literature Prize, for the Baltic region, honoring the best literary work written in Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian.
       As Lsm.lv report:
It was originally intended that the prize-winning works in literature would be published in all three languages, but in practice it did not happen. During the entire 25 years of the award, only a few books have been translated into the other languages.
       Now, however, they've funded the prize better, and the plan is to translate the winning title so that it is available in all three languages -- a great idea.

       A few of the winning titles have been translated into English -- the first one, for example, Tõnu Õnnepalu's Border Land (in the great Writings from an Unbound Europe-series from Northwestern University Press; see their publicity page), or 2009 winner, Inga Ābele's High Tide (see the Open Letter publicity page) -- but of course it would be great to see more .....

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



       The Remote Country of Women review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bai Hua's The Remote Country of Women.

       This 1988 novel came out in the University of Hawai'i Press' Fiction from Modern China-series in 1994 -- a great little (though apparently long discontinued) series whose general editor was Howard Goldblatt. I'm surprised by how little serious attention this got, back in the day -- it's a significant work. (It did get reviewed in both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews -- but that seems to be almost the extent of it.)
       Bai Hua died last year; he was a fairly prominent author, and his difficulties with his film script 'Bitter Love' attracted international attention; see, for example, the 1981 (!) Christian Science Monitor article by Takashi Oka, Fate of 'Bitter Love' embitters Chinese writers.

       Highly recommended also -- though, alas, only in the dreaded pdf format ... --: Tzu-yi Elaine Lee on Translators' Collaboration and Decision-Making in the Case of Bai Hua's The Remote Country of Women, in Compilation and Translation Review.

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



29 July 2020 - Wednesday

French Voices Awards | Katy Derbyshire Q & A
Best New York Jewish book ? | Operation Rimbaud review

       French Voices Awards

       They've announced the 2019 French Voices Awards, with Jeffrey Zuckerman's translation of Titaua Peu's Pina winning in the fiction category; it is still looking for an American publisher; see also the publicity page at (Tahitian !) publisher Au vent des îles
       The other finalists are also listed, and several are already available in English; only Kaouther Adimi's Our Riches (published in the UK as: A Bookshop in Algiers) is under review at the complete review.

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



       Katy Derbyshire Q & A

       At The Publishing Profile they have a Q & A with Katy Derbyshire, a well-established translator and now also publisher of the new V & Q Books, an English-language imprint of German publisher Voland & Quist.

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



       Best New York Jewish book ?

       At Forward PJ Grisar wonders What's the best New York Jewish book of all time ? offering a solid list of contenders.

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



       Operation Rimbaud review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jacques Godbout's exotic caper novel, Operation Rimbaud -- featuring a protagonist who is a (not exactly dedicated) Jesuit, much of the action set in Ethiopia, in 1967, and cameos by Haile Selassie and Timothy Leary.

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



28 July 2020 - Tuesday

Booker Prize longlist | AKO Caine Prize for African Writing
Conversations with James Joyce review

       Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title strong longlist for the 2020 Booker Prize, the leading English-language novel prize, chosen from 162 eligible titles (which, regrettably and outrageously, are not revealed).
       Nine of the titles are by authors who are American or also-American (Maaza Mengiste, for example, is listed as: 'Ethiopia/USA').
       I have not seen a single one of these titles.
       The shortlist will be announced 15 September.

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



       AKO Caine Prize for African Writing

       They've announced the winner of this year's AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, the leading African short-story prize; no press release or the like yet at the official site, but you can watch the video where they announce the winner -- 'Grace Jones', by Irenosen Okojie.
       You can also read the winning story (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- and indeed all the shortlisted stories -- at the site.

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



       Conversations with James Joyce review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arthur Power's Conversations with James Joyce, recently re-issued by Dalkey Archive Press.

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



27 July 2020 - Monday

Ibne Safi | Jorge Consiglio Q & A | The Mystery of Henri Pick review

       Ibne Safi

       It was the fourtieth anniversary of Ibne Safi's death yesterday, and at The Wire Raza Naeem takes the occasion to consider Ibne Safi's Urdu Novel 'Prince Chilli': An Interpretation of Pakistan's National Maladies.
       Blaft have brought out a few of his detective novels -- see, e.g. their publicity page for Doctor Dread -- and I have (e-)copies of these and really do hope to get to them at some point ...... But this one certainly sounds intriguing as well; it would be great if there were an English translation of it available as well .....

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



       Jorge Consiglio Q & A

       Two of Jorge Consiglio's works are recently out from Charco Press -- and now Olivia Fletcher has a Q & A with him, in theartsdesk Q&A: author Jorge Consiglio.
       I haven't seen these two titles yet, but hope to eventually.

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



       The Mystery of Henri Pick review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Foenkinos' mystery-manuscript novel, The Mystery of Henri Pick, recently out from Pushkin Press.

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



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