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16 July 2018 - Monday

The Story of The Stone, jr. version | Thomas Bernhard's editor

       The Story of The Stone, jr. version

       I'm not too sure about this (altered, simplified) junior version of The Story of The Stone (a.k.a. Dream of the Red Chamber and A Dream of Red Mansions), as described by Mei Jia in China Daily, in Classical text gets novel treatment.
       The simplifier, Liu Xinwu, at least seems to be an expert on the novel -- among his previous works is even one 'completing' it -- but I still have my doubts. (Let them read the real thing !)
       Still, any excuse to mention this great work and its significance -- and the article has a few interesting observations and quotes, including how big a fan Mao was (not necessarily a selling point ?) -- and that:
"You can talk about it (the novel) only after reading through it at least five times," Mao had said.

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

       Thomas Bernhard's editor

       In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Paul Jandl has an interesting (German) piece on Thomas Bernhard's first editor at Suhrkamp/Insel, Anneliese Botond, reviewing a collection of her correspondence with the author -- Wer hätte schon Thomas Bernhards Lektorin sein wollen ? Diese Frau war es !
       Worth pointing to because it gives me an opportunity to remind you of the neat Korrektur Verlag publishing house, who brought out this collection, Briefe an Thomas Bernhard (see their publicity page). I've mentioned them before, and they continue to do great Bernhard-inspired and -related stuff.
       But Anneliese Botond is also interesting beyond her Bernhard-work; among the other authors she worked with was Paul Celan, and she translated an impressive array of authors from the French and Spanish, from Foucault and Simenon to Onetti,, Puig, and, above all, Alejo Carpentier. (I happen to be knee-deep in her translation of Carpentier's outrageously not available in English La consagración de la primavera, so it's amusing to come across her in this very different context too.)

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

15 July 2018 - Sunday

Mad Toy review

       Mad Toy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roberto Arlt's 1926 novel, Mad Toy.

       My review is based on the 2002 Michele McKay Aynesworth translation (Duke University Press) -- and, yes, I acquired the book in 2002; sometimes it takes me a while to get to a book ... -- but another translation, by James Womack, was published in the UK in 2013 (by Hesperus). Another of his novels, The Seven Madmen, has, oddly enough, also been translated twice -- while the rest of his output has so far mostly been ignored (though a translation The Flamethrowers -- the continuation of The Seven Madmen -- is apparently forthcoming from River Boat Books; see here (scroll down)).

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

14 July 2018 - Saturday

Top French classics ? | „Brücke Berlin“-Preis

       Top French classics ?

       Le HuffPost -- yes, there's a French version of this site -- asked a variety of popular French authors and other "professionnels du milieu littéraire" to name their top twenty French classics, tallying the totals to make a list of ten essential classics (for purposes of a summer reading challenge to entertain/occupy their readers) -- and Lauren Provost now sums up the results in Les 10 plus grands romans français selon les écrivains pour notre défi de l'été.
       The list is definitely old-classics-heavy -- event the least long-dead of the authors died over twenty years ago -- and partially very predictable (Les Misérables, The Red and the Black, Madame Bovary). (Only the Flaubert and Le Grand Meaulnes are under review at the complete review.)
       Interesting to hear that, for example, there were a lot of votes for Zola-titles -- but that they were spread over so many titles that none made the cut.
       More interesting, of course, are the individual selections -- which you can see by clicking on the links. It is a ... curious selection of author-selectors, ranging from Marie Darrieusecq to Marc Levy to Franck Thilliez.

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

       „Brücke Berlin“-Preis

       The „Brücke Berlin“ Prize is a German literature-in-translation award, the winning translation getting a prize of €20,000, shared equally by author and translator(s), and they've now announced that this year's prize goes to the German translation (by Natia Mikeladse-Bachsoliani) of Zaza Burchuladze's novel, ტურისტის საუზმე; see, for example, the Georgia Today report, Zaza Burchuladze Awarded Literary Prize, and the Georgian and German publishers' publicity pages for the book
       Burchuladze's adibas came out in English from Dalkey Archive Press a couple of years ago; no word yet as to whether this will get a US/UK publisher.
       This prize does look like it has a pretty good track record, beginning with the neat double for its opening award in 2002, an Esther Kinsky translation of an Olga Tokarczuk work. Works by David Albahari, Andrei Bitov, Krasznahorkai László, Nádas Péter, and Serhiy Zhadan have also taken the biennial prize since.

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

13 July 2018 - Friday

Frank Wynne profile | 'Hotlist 30' | Hybrid Child review

       Frank Wynne profile

       In the Irish Times Michael Cronin profiles 'Ireland’s most distinguished living literary translator', in From 'La Bamba' to Houellebecq: Frank Wynne's linguistic odyssey.
       Wynne managed the neat feat of placing two translations on the longlist for this year's Man Booker International Prize list -- particularly neat because the translations were from different languages (Spanish and French).
       Quite a few of his translations are under review at the complete review, from several Pierre Lemaitres (including the prix Goncourt-winning The Great Swindle), Houellebecqs (e.g. Platform), and Frédéric Beigbeder's Windows on the World ) to a few Spanish-language works, such as Tomás Eloy Martínez's Purgatory.

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

       'Hotlist 30'

       A German prize for the best book published by an independent publisher has now relesed their 30 finalists (more convenient list/overview here), selected from 161 entries; readers can now vote for their favorites.
       Always interesting to see what the smaller presses are bringing out in other countries -- especially also since a lot of these are titles in translation. Among the authors with longlisted books: Marcel Schwob, Judith Kerr, Dennis Cooper, Shelley -- and Arthur Koestler, with Darkness at Noon.

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

       Hybrid Child review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ōhara Mariko's 1990 science fiction novel, Hybrid Child, just out in English from the University of Minnesota Press.
       Wild stuff but certainly of some interest.

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

12 July 2018 - Thursday

Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (1923-2018)
TLS summer books recommendations | Lee Child enthusiasm

       Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (1923-2018)

       I'm late to the sad news that Mirages of the Mind-author Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi has passed away.
       See, for example, Celebrated humourist Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi passes away in Karachi in Dawn, and now Mahmood Farooqui's tribute at The Wire, Remembering Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi, Urdu's Greatest Wordsmith.

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

       TLS summer books recommendations

       The Times Literary Supplement has contributors offer their Summer books 2018 recommendations -- usually a pretty good selection.

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

       Lee Child enthusiasm

       In this week's Times Literary Supplement Sam Leith tries to explain Lee Child's success, in Looking up to Jack Reacher.
       As Leith notes, his fans and admirers are many -- not just the book-buying public that propels the books up the bestseller lists, but also those of an ostensibly more serious literary bent. (Among those he doesn't mention are also César Aira, while Man Booker-winning author Eleanor Catton said he was one of her holiday go-to authors in a TLS Twenty Questions, and both John Lanchester and Malcolm Gladwell have enthused about him in The New Yorker (here and here).)
       Only two Reacher novels are under review at the complete review -- Killing Floor and The Affair -- and while I suspect I'll get to a few others, I'm not an entirely won over die-hard fan.

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

11 July 2018 - Wednesday

Rentrée littéraire numbers | A Life Misspent review

       Rentrée littéraire numbers

       The French 'rentrée littéraire' -- the big flooding of the book market with the big (and prize-contending) titles is still more than a month off, but the preview are beginning -- beginning with the numbers.
       As widely reported, 567 novels will hit the market -- down from last year's 581, but more than 2016's 560. One interesting note: fiction in translation continues its slow decline, with only 186 foreign works, the lowest since 1999 (!). (The decline has been slow rather than precipitous -- there were 191 last year, 196 in 2016 -- but it's a steady, continuing decline).
       On the other hand, first novels are better-represented than any time since 2007 -- a sign, perhaps, that the French are looking for something new .....
       Previews of the big titles should be appearing over the next couple of weeks.

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

       A Life Misspent review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Life Misspent, by Suryakant Tripathi, known as Nirala, a 1939 Hindi work that came out in translation a couple of years ago.

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

10 July 2018 - Tuesday

Nominations for wannabe alternate Nobel Prize
Ma Bo’le’s Second Life review

       Nominations for wannabe alternate Nobel Prize

       Last week, I mentioned that some Swedes had set up 'Den Nya Akademien' -- 'The New Academy' -- to do what the Swedish Academy has postponed until (at least) next year: give a big award to the most deserving world author.
       Their not-the-Nobel-Prize ambitions continue apace: whereas last week the official site only had a short explanation in English alongside all the Swedish, they've now gone (international-)media-friendlily all in -- in(to) English, that is.
       They've also completed the first stage of the prize process for this 'New Prize in Literature': as you might recall, they invited Swedish librarians to nominate authors for consideration; the librarians' suggestions form the 'longlist' and the public -- you ! -- then gets to vote (through 14 August) for their favorites; the four top vote-getters are then handed over for the: "final assessment by the expert jury", who will select a winner, to be announced 14 October. (The 'expert jury' consists of: Ann Pålsson, Lisbeth Larsson, Marianne Steinsaphir, Peter Stenson, and Gunilla Sandin,.)
       Well, the longlist is up and the voting open.

       The 47 authors who made the cut are:
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Johannes Anyuru
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Paul Auster
  • Silvia Avallone
  • Nina Bouraoui
  • Anne Carson
  • Maryse Condé
  • Don DeLillo
  • Inger Edelfeldt
  • Kerstin Ekman
  • Elena Ferrante
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Jens Ganman
  • Siri Hustvedt
  • Jenny Jägerfeld
  • Jón Kalman Stefánsson
  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri
  • Jamaica Kincaid
  • David Levithan
  • Édouard Louis
  • Sara Lövestam
  • Ulf Lundell
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Ian McEwan
  • Murakami Haruki
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Sofi Oksanen
  • Amos Oz
  • Sara Paborn
  • Agneta Pleijel
  • Thomas Pynchon
  • Marilynne Robinson
  • Meg Rosoff
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Arundhati Roy
  • Jessica Schiefauer
  • Patti Smith
  • Zadie Smith
  • Peter Stamm
  • Sara Stridsberg
  • Donna Tartt
  • Kim Thúy
  • Olga Tokarczuk
  • Jeanette Winterson
       I'd suggest that the fact that they misspelled at least three of these names (they have "Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche", "Jamaica Kincade", and "David Leviathan") is not a great sign .....
       Swedish librarians also appear to really like hometown authors: just over a quarter of the nominated writers are Swedish. Quite a few are also very young -- in their thirties, with a limited track- (i.e. book) record -- though quite a bit of the old geezer contingent familiar from annual Nobel speculations is also accounted for. Certainly, the list tends fairly strongly to the popular rather than 'serious'; they really seem to be going for a Nobel-lite

       This little game probably doesn't deserve the attention it's getting, but the Nobel-void is obviously keenly felt and the international media needs material to fill it, so even an amateurish second-rate effort like this can attract a ton of coverage .....

       (Updated): Looking over the list more closely, it really is shocking how limited (and overly Swedish -- twelve Swedish authors !) it is. While local authors fare well, the neighbors don't: not a single Norwegian author (though I'd rate Solstad, Espedal, Fosse, Kjærstad, and Per Petterson above all the nominated Swedes, and throw in Knausgård for good measure), nor any Danes. And not a single Spanish-writing author ? (Meaning also -- because there's no Portuguese-writing nominee either --: none from Latin America.) Farther afield is less surprising -- Murakami, the only Asian-language-writing author, the Arabic-writing ones ignored as well -- but still .....
       But at least there is an admirable balance of male/female authors, which is at least something.

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

       Ma Bo’le’s Second Life review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Xiao Hong's 1941 novel, Ma Bo’le’s Second Life, just about out from Open Letter.

       Ma Bo’le’s Second Life is not only translated by longtime-Xiao Hong expert and translator Howard Goldblatt, one of the leading contemporary translators from the Chinese -- it's translated, "edited, and completed by Howard Goldblatt" .....
       And there, of course, is the rub.
       A great case study in how far the role of the translator should go -- and it'll be interesting to see how, for example, judges of translation-awards, like the Best Translated Book Award, deal with it .....

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

9 July 2018 - Monday

'Golden' Man Booker Prize | Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis

       'Golden' Man Booker Prize

       The Man Booker Prize is an annual prize that is for the best written-in-English, published-in-the-UK novel (that's submitted by its publisher for the prize ...), but every couple of years they have a 'best-of' (the previous winners) award -- most recently the so-called 'Golden' Man Booker.
       For this one, judges selected one winner from each of the five decades the award has been handed out, and then opened it up to public vote -- and they've now announced that The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje, has won.
       If this is the sort of thing that makes you want to check it out -- and it is a good book -- you can get your copy at or

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


       The Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis is the famous/notorious German-language prize where authors read in front of a jury and are publicly judged on their texts; it has an impressive list of previous winners, including the most recent Georg-Büchner Prize winner (see my recent mention), Terézia Mora (in 1999).
       They held this year's contest over the past few days -- and they've now announced that Ukrainian author Tanja Maljartschuk has won, with her text, Frösche im Meer (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       If the name seems familiar to readers, that might be because I recently reviewed her A Biography of a Chance Miracle, just out in English from Cadmus Press -- an impressive and good catch for/by them.

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

8 July 2018 - Sunday

Writing in ... Hong Kong | Authors pick summer reads

       Writing in ... Hong Kong

       Via, I'm pointed to Sarah Karacs looking into Why is it So Hard to Find Hong Kong Literature in English ? in Zolima.
       (Atlas, the book she begins with, is under review at the complete review -- but, yes, I've had trouble finding more Hong Long fiction, in English or Chinese, to cover .....)

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

       Authors pick summer reads

       The Guardian offers part one of their round-up of 'Best summer books 2018, as picked by writers', with a pretty good line-up of authors. Just too bad they have to so annoyingly spread it over more than one part (the second presumably to follow in a day or two ... now also up, here).

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

7 July 2018 - Saturday

Premio Strega | Mesopotamia review

       Premio Strega

       They've announced the winner of the Premio Strega, the leading Italian book prize, and it is La ragazza con la Leica by Helena Janeczek -- the first female author to win the prize in fifteen years.
       At The Paris Review's The Daily weblog Francesco Pacifico offers a lot of background, in First Woman Wins the Strega Prize in Fifteen Years.
       One of her novels has been translated into English -- but I'm afraid the New Academia Publishing/Scarith Books title, The Swallows of Monte Cassino, didn't attract much attention; see also their publicity page, or get your copy at or; this one will probably do better; see also the Guanda publicity page, as well as the ANSA report, Janeczek wins 2018 Strega book prize.

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

       Mesopotamia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Serhiy Zhadan's Mesopotamia, just out in English from Yale University Press, in their Margellos World Republic of Letters series.

       Lots of blurbs for this one -- three pages worth at the beginning of the book, while they avoided any review-quotes (though there were quite a few very positive German ones to choose from). Blurbs from Gary Shteyngart (gracing the cover, too), Timothy Snyder, Askold Melnyczuk, and Lara Vapnyar, among others -- twelve in total. Not sure how much weight that carries with potential book-buyers, but we'll see.
       As to English-language reviews so far: very little to be seen, despite the book already being out for two months .....

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

6 July 2018 - Friday

Austrian State Prize for European Literature
'Gender and Indian Literary Awards' | PEN Translates awards

       Austrian State Prize for European Literature

       With this year's Nobel Prize in Literature delayed (at least) until next year, and the Man Booker International Prize having transitioned from an author- to a book-prize, there aren't that many international author prizes to look forward to this year. Yes, there's the biennial Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which will be handed out this fall, but they announced the winner (Edwidge Danticat) last year ..... So the Österreichischer Staatspreis für Europäische Literatur -- while limited to European authors -- is among the few major author prizes that consider writers writing in different languages -- and they've announced that this year's prize will go to ... an English-writing author, Zadie Smith.
       The prize has an impressive list of previous winners -- but US/UK readers will hardly need much of an introduction to this year's winner. But, hey, at least her books are available in English .....

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

       'Gender and Indian Literary Awards'

       Via I'm pointed to Suraj Jacob and Vanamala Viswanatha's study in the Economic and Political Weekly of Gender and Indian Literary Awards.
       They looked at the distribution of Sahitya Akademi Award winners -- the leading Indian literary awards, which are handed out in almost two dozen Indian languages.
In the 22 languages we consider, there have been 1,129 national Sahitya Akademi awards to date (1955–2016). Of these, a mere 8.1% have gone to women.
       This is an ... incredibly low number.
       The disparity is least-bad in English, and the general trend is towards more balance, but still .....
       Interesting regional/cultural differences here too.

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

       PEN Translates awards

       They've announced the most recent batch of 'English PEN Awards' (which are rather confusingly called 'awards' -- and do award cash, covering translation costs -- but are what is usually called grants or subsidies, or something along those lines ...).
       Seventeen projects are recognized this time around, translations from ten different languages -- and it's always interesting to see what we can look forward to in the next year or so (or what they can look forward to in the UK -- not all of these publishers' titles will be readily US available ...).

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

5 July 2018 - Thursday

Bookstan | Howard Jacobson defends the novel | Sand review


       I'm not so sure about that name but the International Festival of Literature Bookstan is being held, for the third time, in Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through the seventh. The Geert Mak-curated festival has a theme of 'Borders and Boundaries', and the list of participants is solid -- regional-heavy, but with a few prominent foreign writers as well (including David Mitchell, Nadifa Mohamed, and Frank Westerman).
       Among the panels: one on the: 'Role and Responsibility of Literature Festivals' (Saturday, at 14:30) .....
       See also the brief Sarajevo Times preview-report.

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       Howard Jacobson defends the novel

       At the TLS Howard Jacobson makes a case for Why the novel matters.
       (As someone for whom the novel is the be-all and end-all, the answer(s) seem self-evident, but yet another spirited defense can't hurt either, right ?)

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

       Sand review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Wolfgang Herrndorf's Sand.
       Tim Mohr's translation was published by Pushkin Press in the UK last year, and now New York Review Books have brought it out in the US.
       Despite the Publishers Weekly protestations, this strikes me as an ideal 'summer read' -- a nice fat and meaty quasi-thriller that's a lot of fun.

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

4 July 2018 - Wednesday

Georg-Büchner-Preis | Caine Prize for African Writing


       They've announced that this year's Georg-Büchner Prize -- the leading German author prize, and worth €50,000 -- will go (on 27 October) to author -- and translator ! -- Terézia Mora.
       Her Day In Day Out, in a translation by Michael Henry Heim, appears to be the only one her works translated into English; get your copy at or
       She has translated quite a bit into German from the Hungarian, including numerous works by Esterházy Péter, Zilahy Péter's The Last Window-Giraffe, and Örkény István's One Minute Stories.
       See also the Deutsche Welle report, Terezia Mora wins 2018 Georg Büchner Prize for German literature.

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

       Caine Prize for African Writing

       They've announced that tis year's Caine Prize for African Writing -- the leading African prize for a short story published in English -- goes to Fanta Blackcurrant (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Makena Onjerika.

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

3 July 2018 - Tuesday

Europese Literatuurprijs shortlist | Sacred Games - the mini-series

       Europese Literatuurprijs shortlist

       The Europese Literatuurprijs -- a prize for the best novel by an author from a Council of Europe member state, translated into Dutch -- has announced its 2018 shortlist of five titles.
       Two titles from the German -- including Daniel Kehlmann's Tyll -- and two from the Italian, including Paolo Cognetti's The Eight Mountains, which continues to enjoy incredible international success (see also the publicity pages for the US and UK editions, from Atria Books and Harvill Secker), but none from the English.
       Noteworthy: all five shortlisted books were written by men -- despite an almost balanced longlist, which included Jane Gardam's Old Filth, Leïla Slimani's The Perfect Nanny (UK title: Lullaby), and Dubravka Ugrešić's Fox .....

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

       Sacred Games - the mini-series

       Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games has been made into a mini-series -- apparently the first Netflix India original but surely with great international potential; see also the Netflix page.
       At Supriya Nair has a Q & A with Vikram Chandra on 'Sacred Games': 'I cried though I know what's going to happen to the characters'

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

2 July 2018 - Monday

The latest on the Nobel Prize in Literature
Venetian Blind review

       The latest on the Nobel Prize in Literature

       Nobel Foundation head Lars Heikensten has apparently felt the need to put more pressure on the Swedish Academy, talking to the Financial Times (for a profile [£]) and spelling things out quite clearly, playing the money-card:
What will happen in 2019 ? That will depend on the Academy regaining confidence. We cannot have an organisation responsible for rewarding the prize, which does not enjoy reasonable confidence. In the end, it is clear that we are the ones who decide if the money is going to be paid out
       Richard Milne reports on this in Nobel Prize in literature at risk of another postponement [£].

       Meanwhile, a group has now set up 'Den Nya Akademien' ('The New Academy'), founded, as they explain (also in English -- scroll down) solely for the purpose of giving out a literature prize in place of the Nobel Prize this year. As they explain:
In awarding this prize, we are staging a protest.
       The winner will be announced in October -- just as the Nobel would have been -- and: "presented at a formal event with a grand celebration on December 10th 2018" (the same day as the big Nobel ceremony ...). (The New Academy will apparently then dissolve itself -- though maybe they'll have to repeat the exercise next year .....)
       Nominations can be made by Swedish librarians until 8 July -- but then the vote for the four finalists is apparently open to one and all (between 9 and 31 July), a big free for all; an expert jury will then decide on the winner.

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

       Venetian Blind review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of William Haggard's Venetian Blind, a 1959 thriller by an author who seems to have been quite popular in the 60s but whose work has (understandably) fallen rather out of sight.

       It can't quite live up to its cover:

Venetian Blind

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

1 July 2018 - Sunday

Perfume - the TV series | Most attractive Austrian books

       Perfume - the TV series

       Patrick Süskind's international bestseller Perfume was made into a movie more than a decade ago, but now it's also been turned into a TV mini-series, the first two episodes premiering at the Munich Film Festival on Friday.
       Jochen Kürten has the story at Deutsche Welle, in Munich Film Festival premieres Perfume TV series based on Patrick Süskind book - including the news that Netflix has acquired the international rights, so you can expect to see it there in the not too distant future.
       Interesting that they refer to it as 'season one' -- meaning they're presumably leaving their options open to expand on the book in possible seasons to come .....

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

       Most attractive Austrian books

       The Austrian (state) competition for the most attractive books of the (last) year -- 'die 15 schönsten Bücher Österreichs 2017' -- recently announced the winners; see also the pictures of the award ceremony.

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

30 June 2018 - Saturday

Académie française distinctions | Nyein Kyaw profile | The Traitor's Niche review

       Académie française distinctions

       The Académie française waits until the fall to announce its big novel prize, the Grand Prix du Roman, but they hand out a lot of other prizes and honors, and they've now announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the 66 2018 palmarès.
       Among the top honors: Charles Dantzig was awarded the (usually) biennial €45,000 Grand Prix de Littérature Paul Morand. (I've been enjoying his fat Dictionnaire égoïste de la littérature française (see the Le Livre de Poche publicity page) and hope to eventually get a review up.)
       Michel Tremblay was awarded the Grand Prix de la francophonie, while The Meursault Investigation-author Kamel Daoud won the Grande Médaille de la francophonie.

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

       Nyein Kyaw profile

       In the Myanmar Times Tu Thein Oo profiles Burmese author Nyein Kyaw, Writer of Romance and much more.
       Apparently he was: "one of the most respected, well-known writers in Myanmar from the mid-70s to mid-90s", he: "escaped the censors because his work focused on romance, not politics".
       It would be great to see some of these popular works in English (even/especially with those covers ...) .....

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

       The Traitor's Niche review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ismail Kadare's 1978 novel, The Traitor's Niche; a UK edition came out last year, and now Counterpoint has come out with a US edition.

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

29 June 2018 - Friday

Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes
French literary prizes: Prix Émile Guimet - Prix America

       Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes

       The Whiting Foundation has set up the Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes for non-profit literary publications in three categories -- two print, depending on budget, and one digital. The prizes: "acknowledge, reward, and encourage organizations that actively nurture the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important", and they've now announced this year's winners: A Public Space, Fence, and Words without Borders.
       Each winner gets an outright grant right away -- $20,000 for the medium-sized magazine category, $10,000 each for the smaller magazine and 'primarily online' categories -- and then a matching grant up to that amount for each of the next two years.
       Worthy winners all, and it's especially great to see Word without Borders recognized for their work.

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

       French literary prize: Prix Émile Guimet

       The prix Émile Guimet de littérature asiatique is a French literary prize for the best (relatively new -- it can't have been published in its original language more than ten years ago) Asian work of fiction translated into French, and they've now announced this year's winner, the French translation of Hwang Sok-yong's 해질 무렵, Au soleil couchant (not yet available in English; see the Philippe Picquier publicity page).
       See also the list of finalists -- two of which were are translations from English. The only one of the finalists under review at the complete review is A Yi's A Perfect Crime.

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

       French literary prize: Prix America

       The French magazine America started a 'prix America' last year, for the best American book published in French, and they've announced that My Absolute Darling (published in French under the original English title) by Gabriel Tallent has taken this year's prize; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.

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

28 June 2018 - Thursday

Rheingau Literatur Preis | Mario Vargas Llosa Q & A
Literary magazines in ... Africa | Deaths for the Ladies review

       Rheingau Literatur Preis

       They've announced that Robert Seethaler will pick up (on 23 September, at their annual festival) the Rheingau Literatur Preis -- €11,111 and 111 bottles of Rheingau Riesling -- for his new novel, Das Feld.
       Seethaler has already enjoyed great international success, and A Whole Life and The Tobacconist are available in English. I have to admit that I haven't quite been won over -- and I don't think this new one (featuring the talking dead ...) will do the job either. It will, however, no doubt soon be available in English translation; see the Hanser foreign rights page.

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

       Mario Vargas Llosa Q & A

       At The Washington Post Michael Skafidas has a Q & A with Mario Vargas Llosa -- Reading 'Lolita' in the #MeToo era.
       The Nobel laureate argues:
You cannot attack literature for our vices and prejudices and stupidities. I think this is very important because I am convinced that the feminist movement's voice should be heard, but I don't accept this idea of censorship for literature or for culture in general.

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

       Literary magazines in ... Africa

       At okayafrica Tadiwa Madenga looks at 5 Literary Magazines That Have Transformed African Literature, beginning with Black Orpheus

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

       Deaths for the Ladies review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Norman Mailer's 1962 poetry collection, Deaths for the Ladies (and other disasters).
       Yes, this is not one of Mailer's more famous books; indeed, it looks like it's been out of print for many decades. It's also not particularly good -- but I have to admit, I was curious .....

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

27 June 2018 - Wednesday

(Some big) US fall titles | The Flying Mountain review

       (Some big) US fall titles

       At Publishers Weekly they have their Fall 2018 Adult Announcements issue, listing what they consider to be: 'The big titles of autumn'.
       The most interesting category of the fifteen they have is the Literary Fiction list -- and it's encouraging/interesting/(worrying ?) to see how many of the titles are works in translation: the new Murakami, the sixth and final volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle (both making their top ten), as well as everything from The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza (from Dorothy -- I just got the ARC, and it looks intriguing) to the next Virginie Despentes to make it to the US (which still isn't Vernon Subutex ...), the next Yan Lianke, Olga Tokarczuk's Man Booker International Prize-winner -- and, above all, Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries (as well as, inexplicably, the new Paulo Coelho).
       A lot to look forward to -- though there's a whole lot beyond these too .....

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

       The Flying Mountain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christoph Ransmayr's novel-in-(sort-of-)verse, The Flying Mountain.
       This 2006 novel is finally available in English, in Simon Pare's translation, from Seagull Books -- and it was (deservedly) longlisted for this year's Man Booker International Prize (and I have hopes that it will be the first book that gets (at least) longlisted in both the fiction and the poetry categories for the Best Translated Book Award next year (the last work that I thought stood a chance of doing that double was Gonçalo M. Tavares' A Voyage to India, which, however, ... didn't)).
       It is somewhat disappointing that the Man Booker International Prize attention hasn't translated into wider English-language review-coverage -- at least not yet .....

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

26 June 2018 - Tuesday

The (too) personal novel ? | Austrian Book Prize

       The (too) personal novel ?

       In The Guardian Alex Clark wonders Drawn from life: why have novelists stopped making things up ?
       Of course, variations on 'autofiction' have existed almost as long as the novel itself, but she's right that the current iteration is crazy-widespread right now. I'm still more annoyed by novelists' continued reliance on real-life figures other than themselves (even as I am deeply impressed by some/many (most recently: the most recently reviewed title at the site ...)), but then I've also managed to avoid many of the titles/authors/navel-gazers she cites.
       I'm certainly strongly in the write-what-you-don't-know camp (and have little-to-no interest in authors' (or anyone else's) 'real' lives), but it seems to me there's also room for all of these and more ..... Sure, this stuff is getting more attention than it probably deserves (and leading too many impressionable young writers astray), but there's so much else out there as well, and so many authors who are trying other (more and less interesting) things (with more or less equally mixed results ...) .....

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

       Austrian Book Prize

       Following the German and (German-)Swiss example, the Austrians set up their own best-book-prize in 2016 (their variation open to all genres, which is at least something slightly different).
       The entries are in for this year's prize, and while, like the Man Booker, the German Book Prize, and most of the rest they outrageously and inexplicably won't reveal what those books actually are, they have now announced the numbers: 121 books, from 60 publishers (39 Austrian, 19 German, and two Swiss publishers).
       The ten-title longlist will be announced 5 September.

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

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