In The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose considers whether: 'Indian literary prizes set literary standards', in The prize is right ?
Neat to hear, at least, that:
An award for a translated book has a simultaneous impact in two languages says Mini Krishnan, editor-translations, OUP.
"A classic case is Bama's Karukku translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom.
That Crossword Prize in 2001 changed Bama's life.
I think there must be over 100 MPhils on the book and many Tamil Dalit works were picked up for translation in English after that. ...
When a translation wins a prize, the sales of the original also picks up."
(See the Oxford University Press publicity page for the recent second edition of Karukku, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
Too bad, then, that there aren't more literary prizes in India that reward or even just consider translations -- disappointingly, The Hindu's own Literary Prize excludes them .....
They actually announced the winners of the Icelandic Booksellers' Prize over a month ago but I missed that -- but they just handed out the prizes a few days ago -- see, for example, the Iceland Review report --, so that's good enough a reason and occasion to make note of them now.
Öræfi, by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, took the novel prize; see the Forlagið publicity page.
Carl Djerassi has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
Best-known for his impressive work as a scientist, he also tried to write fiction (and drama) dealing with a variety of scientific issues -- a different kind of science-fiction.
I read quite a bit of it, and while little that he produced was really memorable, most of it was at least fairly entertaining and decently thought-provoking -- certainly good stuff for the scientifically interested kids.
Check out, for example, The Bourbaki Gambit (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) or Cantor's Dilemma (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Just in time for the weekend -- though really stretching it, as far as the issue date goes -- the January issue of Asymptote is now available online: wall-to-wall international literature goodness, from fiction/non/poetry translations to reviews and Q & As.
See for yourself -- just make sure you actually have time to explore for a while: there's a great deal of worthwhile material here.
At PEN Atlas Broken Glass Park-author Alina Bronsky writes about belonging to: "the subset of authors who write books in a language that is not their native tongue", in You speak such good German.
This is neither a new nor very uncommon phenomenon -- though in recent years English has, of course, been by far the most popular secondary language that writers have turned to.
But quite a few have adopted German too (many from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but also from other languages -- e.g. Tawada Yoko (e.g. The Naked Eye) -- while French also continues to be a popular second choice.
They've announced that Anne Enright has been named the inaugural 'Laureate for Irish Fiction' -- selected from 34 nominees (including William Trevor, Edna O'Brien, and John Banville, among some other pretty big names).
It's a three-year gig, and she:
will be expected to continue her work as a creative artist.
In addition, over the course of her term, Anne Enright will spend one semester at University College Dublin and one semester at New York University.
It also pays out €150,000 over the three years, which sounds pretty good, too.
It's an old piece ("first published in Books from Finland 1/1982") but now available online -- and always an interesting question: translator Herbert Lomas (e.g. Arto Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare) tries to explain: Why translate ?
Among the questions he tries to answer: "Why this lack of interest ?" (in literature in translation) -- a situation that has perhaps improved since (there seems more intense interest -- even if not yet exactly a widespread one).
Kanishk Tharoor's piece on 'Revisiting Raja Rao's fiction', India As Metaphysic ?, is now finally freely accessible at The Caravan.
The focus is on the recently republished by Penguin India titles -- with Tharoor not equally enthusiastic about all of them: "How to describe the monumental tedium of The Serpent and the Rope ?" he wonders .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vivant Denon's small eighteenth century classic (in Lydia Davis' translation), No Tomorrow, which New York Review Books brought out a couple of years ago.
They've announced that הבית אשר נחרב ('The Ruined House') by Reuven "Ruby" Namdar has won this year's Sapir Prize (פרס ספי), one of the leading Israeli literary prizes.
It's apparently noteworthy that longtime New York resident Namdar is an "expat" author -- the first to take the prize.
See, for example, Beth Kissileff's Reuven Namdar Wins Israel's Sapir Prize at Tablet, or her Q & A with the author in the Forward.
They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) this year's Whitbread Costa Book of the Year, selected from the five category winners -- and it is the Biography-winner, H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.
It's not even out in the US yet -- coming in March; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com -- but has already enjoyed considerable success in the UK; get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.
In The Herald Beaven Tapureta offers A tale of two book industries, comparing the situations in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
High book prices, lack of media coverage, and the failure of schools to develop a reading culture are among the problems identified.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Higashino Keigo's Malice.
Higashino is phenomenally successful in eastern Asia -- his native Japan as well as China and South Korea, where he is among the most successful authors.
Two of his 'Detective Galileo'-mysteries have been published in English (The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint), with a third to follow this year; Malice is from his 'Detective Kaga'-series (a 1996 novel that has only now been translated -- but apparently the fourth in the series); there's also the stand-alone Naoko.
This haphazard and very limited presentation of his work -- he's written dozens of novels, and these 'Detective Galileo' volumes are also random ones in the larger series, not the first two ... -- can't be helping his success in the US/UK, which falls well, well short of his Asian success -- but he's gotten pretty good US/UK-press reviews, including for this book -- much better, in fact, than the book deserves, in my opinion.
At boersenblatt.net they look at the top-25 bestselling paperbacks in Germany in 2014 in both fiction and non -- alas only ranked, not with actual sales numbers.
Translated-from-the-English works dominate both lists, with Jojo Moyes and James Bowen each placing three of the top five titles in their respective categories (fiction, non) -- two authors whose very existence I have only the fuzziest awareness of, and whose books I can not imagine reading.
Wolfgang Herrndorf's Tschick -- bizarrely transformed into Why We Took the Car in English (see the Arthur A. Levine publicity page, get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- is the top-selling domestic novel.
And at least a Patrick Modiano slips onto the list, at 24th.
The top non-fiction title is the legal reference book, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (see the dtv publicity page) -- an almost 1000-pager --, while Florian Illies 1913 enjoyed success even in 2014 (15th), and Anne Frank's diary also made the top 25.
They've announced the longlist for this year's Libris Literatuur Prijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes.
The eighteen-title strong list was selected from the groslijst of eligible titles -- revealing quite a few familiar names who have had work translated into English and whose books didn't make the longlist cut, including: Kader Abdolah, Anna Enquist, Herman Koch, Tessa de Loo, Erwin Mortier, Dimitri Verhulst, and Tommie Wieringa.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikheil Javakhishvili's early Soviet-era classic, Kvachi, a nice addition to Dalkey Archive Press' Georgian Literature Series (and translated by the leading Georgian-literature authority, Donald Rayfield).
In Publishers Weekly Jim Milliot reports on The Hot and Cold Categories of 2014 in the US, looking at the "print book unit sales among adult segments in 2014" ("at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan").
On the positive side, "Occult/Psychological/Horror" showed the biggest drop among adult fiction categories (-26%).
On the other hand, "Graphic Novels" showed the biggest increase (+13%).
(That's in 'adult fiction'! Oddly, this isn't even a category in 'juvenile fiction' ....)
The only other adult fiction category with any plus ?
Amusingly, "Religion" was minus 15% in adult fiction -- but plus 12% in adult non-fiction.
The recent, abrupt pull-back by the Swiss National Bank, allowing the Swiss franc to float freely (and appreciate most dramatically) -- see, for example, Edward Harrison at Foreign Policy on What the Wild Swiss Franc Appreciation Really Means -- has ripple effects far and wide (including in a lot of eastern European countries, where way too many folks somehow got themselves talked into franc-denominated mortgages ...).
Much of Switzerland's economy is, of course, affected -- including the publishing industry.
As Jürg Altwegg reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Schweizer Buchmarkt schwächelt.
Local German-language publishers enjoy most of their sales abroad (Diogenes and Kein & Aber: about ninety per cent, he writes), and that suddenly doesn't work out to nearly as much profit domestically.
Worse: Swiss book buyers now have even more of an incentive to purchase via Amazon Germany, paying the euro price (and avoiding any import-duty if they don't buy too much at one time) -- a disaster for local booksellers.
Canada has faced similar issues in recent years, when the loonie was strong, but the current Swiss situation seems considerably more extreme.
At Russia Beyond the Headlines Julia Shevelkina reports that: 'Russian bookstores are using movie style trailers to grab people's attention and promote interest in reading', in Bringing a touch of Hollywood sparkle to Russian bookstores.
'Sparkle' may be a bit of an exaggeration, but see for yourself: several examples are on offer.
As I mentioned last week, Michel Houellebecq's Soumission has been a phenomenal success in France.
It's now come out in Germany -- and its run continues: boersenblatt.net reports that it easily debuted at number one on the German bestseller lists, that 150,000 copies have sold, and that it is going into its fourth printing (within a week of publication).
So, yeah, it's doing reasonably well.
Meanwhile, the US/UK publishers are ... still getting their act together ?
UK publication is slated for the fall, while the Americans seem to have been totally taken by surprise that anyone might be interested in this (his longtime publisher Knopf losing the title to Farrar, Straus & Giroux -- out of indifference ? -- who themselves seem a bit overwhelmed by what they've lucked into).
If fiction in translation is really being taken more seriously in the US/UK you'd (well, I'd ...) figure they could get a potentially 'hot' title like this out within a reasonable time.
(Hey, even the Italian translation is already out.
Remember that the next time you make fun of Italy's ridiculous economy and extol the superiority of all business-conducting-ways in the US.
They've announced the five finalists for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, the impressively endowed -- the winner gets US$100,000 -- prize for: "a book of literary merit that stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern".
They alternate between rewarding fiction and non; this year is fortunately a fiction-year.
Nevertheless, none of the finalists are under review at the complete review.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first English translation of Selected Poems by Volker Braun, Rubble Flora, translated by David Constantine and Karen Leeder and published by Seagull Books.
As longtime readers know, I've long been a Braun fan -- the first review of a Braun-title went up some fifteen years ago ! -- and I'm currently enjoying the second volume of his work diary, Werktage 1990 - 2008.
Here's hoping he finally makes some proper inroads into the English-language markets.
They've announced that The Lowland (by Jhumpa Lahiri) has won the 2015 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
It's not under review at the complete review, but you can get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've now tallied the 2014 sales in France and while the official GFK/Livres Hebdo figures aren't freely accessible online they do offer a bit of a summary.
Valérie Trierweiler's tell-all topped the list as bestselling title, with 603,300 copies sold.
The three E.L.James titles all made the top ten, while Guillaume Musso's Central Park came in third (with 556,600 copies sold) and his Demain came in fifth.
Good to see: fiction dominated, with 39 of the top 50 bestselling titles.
Meanwhile, Livres Hebdo editor in chief Christine Ferrand explained:
Les lecteurs ont plébiscité en 2014 les feel good books
They've announced that Tess Lewis' translation of Maja Haderlap's Engel des Vergessens, 'Angel of Oblivion' has won this year's Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize -- apparently beating out translations of works by Josef Winkler, Clemens Setz, Friederike Mayröcker, Christoph Ransmayr, Walter Kappacher, Raoul Schrott, and others (quite the impressive list).
See also, for example, the information about the book at New Books in German.
The award ceremony -- which author Maja Haderlap will be present for -- is 24 March.
Nine titles were selected as grantees for the Fall 2014 session of the French Voices Award -- five fiction and four non-fiction (with a stunning three being published in English by Fordham University Press), and yesterday they announced the Grand Prize Winner -- Pascale-Anne Brault's translation of Barbara Cassin's La Nostalgie, which Fordham University Press will be publishing in English in the spring of 2016.
Tough competition -- including Fiston Mwanza Mujila's eagerly awaited Tram 83 (coming from Deep Vellum), Dominique Fabre's Guys Like Me (coming from New Vessel Press), and an Andreï Makine and a Chantal Thomas -- but it does sound interesting too.
Iris Murdoch's husband (and Elegy for Iris, etc. author) John Bayley has passed away.
Though accomplished in his own right -- as literary critic, among other things -- he has not unexpectedly gotten the Elizabeth Jane Howard-treatment in death, i.e. he is recalled primarily as the spouse of a more famous writer; hence, for example, The Telegraph's obituary, John Bayley, widower of Dame Iris Murdoch, dies.
(The Telegraph also notes that he died back on the 12th and they've already held the funeral.)
At Entropy they have a Q & A with Marc Lowenthal of the wonderful Wakefield Press.
Always fascinating to see how small presses with such an impressive output manage -- with Wakefield the rare tiny publisher (with translation focus, no less) that isn't officially a non-profit (not that they make any profit, apparently).
In Hurriyet they report that Book production on rise in Turkey, which sounds good.
Hey, "More than 561 million copies of books were published in Turkey last year" !
Alas, a mere "3 percent were adult fiction books".
By comparison: 71 per cent were "educational books" -- and "9 percent were faith books".
When faith-book-production outnumbers fiction by three to one ... not good.
By comparison, US numbers from 2013 had fiction at 16.57 per cent of traditional book production -- with "religion" titles a still way over-represented 6.12 per cent.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bengt Jangfeldt's Mayakovsky: A Biography, just out in English from the University of Chicago Press.
Let's hope it leads to a bit of a Mayakovsky revival !
They've announced the finalists for the (American) National Book Critics Circle Awards in the six categories they honor (fiction, general non-fiction, auto- and biography, criticism, and poetry), as well as the special-category winners.
Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric managed the very impressive feat of being a finalist in two categories -- poetry and criticism.
See the Graywolf publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
One work in translation slipped in -- Thomas Piketty's very deserving Capital in the Twenty-First Century -- but the only title under review at the complete review is Vikram Chandra's Geek Sublime (yet another Graywolf title !), which, for some reason, is a 'criticism'-finalist.
BBC Culture apparently polled "several dozen book critics" in trying to determine "the greatest novels of the opening years of this tumultuous century"; alas the critics, notable though they might be in the English-speaking world, prove shockingly monoglot in their reading and opinions: not a one of what they rank as The 21st Century's 12 greatest novels was written in a foreign language -- which seems a rather unlikely conclusion to reach.
Apparently a few titles in translation (god forbid they'd even consider anything not yet translated into the be-all language that is English ...) did crack the top twenty: W.G.Sebald's Austerlitz at number 14, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante at 15, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño at 19 -- but on the whole this is a disappointingly provincial list.
Nevertheless, several of the top dozen are under review at the complete review:
They've announced that the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation goes to ... Sinan Antoon, for his translation of his own work, The Corpse Washer.
Admirably, they list all seventeen entries for the prize (scroll down) -- as every literary prize should !
For readers in the US, the gold standard is Three Percent's 2015 Translation Database (warning ! dreaded xls format !), listing some 166 works of fiction and poetry in translation being published for the first time in the US this year (to be updated as the year progresses -- the final total should be somewhere around three times that), but for a more manageable, annotated UK list PEN Atlas offers Publishers' translation highlights 2015, where UK publishers introduce some of their finest coming offerings -- a lot to look forward to.
(Updated - 20 January): Also of some possible interest/use: Typographical Era's 2015 Visual Guide to Translated Fiction, which offers the book covers of 2015 titles in translation (and links to Amazon).
(As an entirely text/content-focussed person I find this approach distracting more than anything else, but I can see how it might be considered like bookstore-browsing.
And it does look neat.)
It's nice to see authors finally catch on abroad -- especially authors who haven't just been 'lost in translation' but rather write in English, but for whatever reason are overlooked in the US/UK markets.
South African author Ivan Vladislavić has finally been getting some US/UK attention, with the publication there of works such as Double Negative and now, with the announcement (via) that his 1993 debut (!) The Folly has finally been sold in the US and UK, to first-rate publishers Archipelago Books and And Other Stories -- well, what more validation could one ask for ?
The great German author, Arno Schmidt, was born 18 January 1914.
His centenary was well-celebrated in Germany, but to my chagrin English-language coverage was ... minimal.
What to do ?
Write a monograph, of course, introducing US/UK readers -- those that haven't got (as I'm sure a not insignificant percentage of Literary Saloon readers in fact do) the four-volume collected fiction edition from Dalkey Archive Press ... -- to the author and his work: Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy, a Literary Saloon-dialogue (in best (or at least imitative) Schmidtian-fashion).
So if you didn't celebrate the centenary in proper style (i.e. full Schmidt immersion) then consider doing it up right this year.
My little book is a great way for you to dip your toe into the admittedly sometimes forbidding-sounding author, a small first step as your perhaps prepare for the forthcoming publication of the English translation of his heavyweight magnum opus.
Available in a variety of formats: paperback at all the Amazons internationally (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.), and from your local bookseller (probably not in stock, but they should be able to order it for you) or other online retailers;
it's also available on Kindle (get your copy at US, UK, or other Amazon); as well as ePub.
Of course, while Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy is (I hope and believe) a good introduction to the man and his work, the real goal and ambition should be to read his work -- so if you're ready for that step: take the plunge !
(If you haven't made any reading-resolutions for the year, tackling the work of Arno Schmidt would seem to be a worthy one -- and the amount and variety available in English would have you pretty well-covered.)
There are no longer any potential writers or new readers because people are now more interested in television and using their mobile phones or the internet
On the other hand, maybe the situation isn't entirely hopeless:
"The readership of the genre may have come down, but it still remains hugely popular.
Fans buy ten books by Pathak at a time, while also pre-booking them," Minakshi Thakur, senior commissioning editor, Harper Collins, told us.
As Victor Garcia reports in L'Express, Soumission, de Houellebecq, vendu à 155 000 exemplaires en cinq jours -- Michel Houellebecq's controversial novel has sold an astonishing 155,000 copies in its first five days on sale, with the total print run now being upped to 250,000 (and, no doubt, soon to be increased again)
The French edition seems to be doing phenomenally well on Amazon in the US and UK too: an 'Amazon Best Sellers Rank' of 9,734 at Amazon.com, last I checked, despite a hefty price tage of US$44.96 (reduced from a rather questionable 'list price' of $49.95 -- quite the exchange rate rip-off, given that the French price is €21)), and a decent showing at Amazon.co.uk as well.
While German and Italian translations are due out within the week, the US/UK publishers are presumably kicking themselves for not having proceeded with a bit more urgency.
It will still presumably do well in translation -- presumably better than the recent Houellebecqs -- but not like it would have sold now.
At Scroll.in Mini Krishnan, editor of 'a programme of literary translations for Oxford University Press (India)', explains Why I publish translations of Indian literature -- suggesting that at least the situation has improved some over the past three or so decades.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lima Barreto's century-old novel, The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma, a recent Penguin Classics translation soon to be available in the US as well.
Penguin Classics have been doing quite a few Brazilian classics recently; certainly good to see.