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5 May 2016 - Thursday

Best Translated Book Awards ! | Tom Stoppard profile

       Best Translated Book Awards !

       They've announced the winners of the Best Translated Book Awards, and the fiction award went to Signs Preceding the End of the World (by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman).
       (The poetry prize went to Rilke Shake (by Angélica Freitas, translated by Hilary Kaplan).)

       I was certainly impressed by the Herrera -- and it is also one of the finalists where the translation-achievement is perhaps more obvious than elsewhere, making it an even more obvious choice. It was presumably somewhat of an outsider -- a slim volume, up against heavyweights like Lispector and the concluding Ferrante (I suspect the concluding Knausgaard, two years from now, will make a stronger showing as far as series-finales go) -- but I can't imagine there will be much criticism of the selection: this is a deserving book, and translation.

       (Note, however, that this means we won't see a Best Translated Book Award - Man Booker International Prize double this year, as the Herrera wasn't a finalist for the MBIP. (The winner of the MBIP will be announced 16 May).)

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

       Tom Stoppard profile

       In the Evening Standard Katie Law profiles Tom Stoppard.
       A bit gossipy (and hair-obsessed -- he: "still has a mane of thick curly hair" (though that photo sure suggests he's getting a bit ... threadbare); his latest wife is: "girlish and goldilocked at 61"), there's still some decent stuff here, as well as the usual fun-at-his-expense about his (not-quite-)use of e-mail and the like.
"I've very rarely emerged from writing something which I feel deserves an alpha plus." For which of his plays would he award himself an alpha plus ? The Invention of Love, his 1997 play about A E Housman, "presses all my buttons," he replies, and then he pauses. "But I think it's rather bad taste to start proposing your own A-stars."
       (And while The Invention of Love is a great play, it is of course Arcadia that is his masterpiece.)

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

4 May 2016 - Wednesday

Paul Auster | Little Girls Breathe the Same Air as We Do review

       Paul Auster

       Eric Clement had the scoop in La Presse last week but it seems to have (entirely ?) escaped English-language notice so far (or no one cares ?): that we can look forward to Un roman de 925 pages signé Paul Auster, Auster's forthcoming novel a near-thousand-pager he expects to have out in early 2017.
       No word as to the title of the just-finished work, or any of the details beyond its (great) length:
L'écrivain préfère ne pas dévoiler l'histoire de ce nouveau roman. Il souhaite que la surprise soit totale pour ses fidèles lecteurs. Il consent toutefois à dire qu'il s'agit d'une sorte de «saga».
       They follow up this week with a proper Q & A -- no additional clues about the book, but more general odds and ends (including about American politics).

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

       Little Girls Breathe the Same Air as We Do review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Oulipo-author Paul Fournel's 1978 novel, Little Girls Breathe the Same Air as We Do.

       This actually came out in English very quickly, George Braziller publishing it in 1979, and for example the Kirkus review suggested:
(I)t remains an odd, narrow exercise -- significant only as a minor-key promise of things to come from this young French writer.
       Ah, yes, the promise ! And a lot did come -- only not into English, with the recently published Dear Reader the first of his novels to be translated since then, after well over thirty years ! (though there was also that bicycling book in the meantime).
       Born in 1947, Fournel was indeed a promising young 32-year-old when Little Girls Breathe the Same Air as We Do came out in English -- and only now returns to the US/UK scene when he is closing in on 70.

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

3 May 2016 - Tuesday

Thomas-Mann-Preis | Geoff Dyer Q & A | Xorandor review


       They've announced that this year's Thomas Mann Prize will go to Jenny Erpenbeck (Visitation, etc.) -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked, so see, for example, the Boersenblatt report [Updated: see now also the Deutsche Welle report, Novelist Jenny Erpenbeck wins Thomas Mann Prize].
       She gets to pick it up on 17 September.
       The list of previous winners is a bit mixed (as indeed is the prize itself, which combined two previous prizes in 2010, and now alternates between being awarded on Lübeck and in Munich), but last year the (recently deceased) Lars Gustafsson got it, which was certainly also an excellent choice.

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

       Geoff Dyer Q & A

       In The Hindu Tishani Doshi has a Q & A with author Geoff Dyer.
       Among his responses:
The real issue for me is not whether it's true or untrue in accordance with what actually happened. But it's to do with form and the expectation of what people give to a certain form.

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

       Xorandor review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christine Brooke-Rose's 1986 novel, Xorandor -- apparently recently re-issued in a two-for-one volume (with Verbivore) by Verbivoracious Press (though I only have the original Carcanet edition (and what I really wanted was the Avon paperback ...)).

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

2 May 2016 - Monday

Online writing in ... China | St. Louis Literary Award | Bird in a Cage review

       Online writing in ... China

       At Xinhua Lyu Dong and Li Zhengwei report on Leafing through online literature for China's Harry Potter, as:
If China's film market is a flame burning bright, the country's online literature is increasingly its fuel.
       As I've (often, sigh) noted, the Chinese online-publishing industry (and it sure looks like an industry -- "Over 140 million Chinese were regularly reading online literature on their computers and smartphones as of December") is a greatly under-studied and -reported-on phenomenon.
       Maybe now more will take notice, if indeed:
Online novels have amassed hundreds of millions of readers, and now they are being tapped for their potential to reach an even broader audience once adapted into films.

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

       St. Louis Literary Award

       The St. Louis Literary Award has a decent list of previous winners, and they've now announced that Noted Writer Michael Ondaatje Named Recipient of 2016 St. Louis Literary Award.
       He gets to pick it up on 6 October.

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

       Bird in a Cage review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Frédéric Dard's 1961 novel, Bird in a Cage.
       This is only due out -- from Pushkin Press, in their Vertigo imprint -- in June (in the UK) and September (US), but a Frédéric Dard sighting in English ? in a translation by David Bellos ? no way you can hold me back.
       In my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (just out -- but you already have your copy, right ? if not ... get it at,, etc.), I noted that Dard (especially in his San-Antonio incarnation): "never stood much of a chance in English translation", as they've tried some odds and ends over the decades but nothing ever really took -- but Pushkin Press is having a go with several of his works, and with translators like Bellos (David freaking Bellos ! who is always up for a translation-challenge) maybe he stands a chance after all.
       As a reminder of where translation-into English stands, however, note that this (and quite a few other) Dard titles appeared in ... Iran (yes, that Iran) before they have in English: see e.g. ‘The Elevator’ of Frédéric Dard in Iran (or the more extensive Persian report -- and, yes, that's this title), as well as “Novels of the Night” in Persian Translation (with nice cover-images) at the International Crime Fiction Research Group.

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

1 May 2016 - Sunday

Eka Kurniawan Q & A | Chinese investment in French publishing

       Eka Kurniawan Q & A

       In The Jakarta Post Stevie Emilia has a Q & A with Eka Kurniawan (who recently made a splash in English translation, with Beauty is a Wound and Man Tiger).
       Among Kurniawan's answers: re. his favorite author he singles out:
If I have to mention only one, it's Knut Hamsun ( the Norwegian author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature ). His works convinced me to become a writer.
       And as far as 'social media' (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) go, he says: "Don't like any of them."

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

       Chinese investment in French publishing

       At Paper Republic Bruce Humes points out that Chinese media are reporting that Chinese publisher/media firm ThinKingDom (新经典文化) has apparently invested in (i.e. bought a chunk of) leading French publisher of east Asian literature ("des livres de l'Extrême-Orient", as they put it) in translation Editions Philippe Picquier; see also the (Chinese) reports at The Paper and, a bit more extensively, sina (and note the deafening silence in the European press -- I couldn't find anything in the French papers ...).
       As Humes notes, it's unclear just how much of a stake they've staked themselves, but this is an interesting move, with Philippe Picquier a relatively small boutique independent -- but a leading conduit for east Asian literature into European languages and with a first rate list (and, presumably, contacts). Worth keeping an eye on.

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

30 April 2016 - Saturday

Audin on Oulipo | Russian Library introduction
Ladivine review

       Audin on Oulipo

       Michèle Audin's One Hundred Twenty-One Days is just about out from Deep Vellum, and now the author explains her relationship with the Oulipo-group at Publishers Weekly, in What is the Oulipo ? (Meanwhile, see also all the other Oulipo titles under review at the complete review.)
       (And I remain eager to see Audin's Remembering Sofya Kovalevskaya; see the Springer publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Russian Library introduction

       At the Columbia University Press blog series editor Christine Dunbar offers An Overview of the Inaugural Russian Library Titles (three of them to get things going).
       I've mentioned this project before -- in particular as the first instance, a collaboration with Overlook Press, apparently died a(n exceptionally) quiet death. But it looks like they're actually going through with this -- with publicity pages for the first titles (e.g. Sokolov's Between Dog and Wolf) already up (though note that the 'Series: Russian Library' link doesn't lead anywhere yet ...).
       Looks good and promising; can't wait to see these (and future) titles.

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

       Ladivine review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of (prix Goncourt-winning author) Marie NDiaye's Ladivine, just out in English.
       This is an exceptionally good piece of writing -- that is also exceptionally difficult to like/enjoy. NDiaye's presentation of family-/personal relationships makes Thomas Bernhard look like a softy ..... (And where Bernhard goes all bitter his depictions at least have a comic edge; NDiaye is rarely bitter but heartlessly earnest -- which is, far, far worse.)
       This title/translation was longlisted for this year's Man Booker International Prize, but fell short of the shortlist; I'm very curious how it will do at next year's Best Translated Book Award: on the face of it it is (in its very good translation) an obvious finalist -- and yet .....

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

29 April 2016 - Friday

Enrique Vila-Matas on the future | Marie Darrieussecq profile
A General Theory of Oblivion review

       Enrique Vila-Matas on the future

       At Music & Literature they print Thomas Bumstead's translation of Enrique Vila-Matas' talk when he received the premio Juan Rulfo at the book fair in Guadalajara on 28 November of last year, The Future (original) -- well worth a read.

       (Many Vila-Matas titles are under review at the complete review -- with the recent Because She Never Asked a particular favorite (which I don't think has gotten its due, critically or otherwise).)

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

       Marie Darrieussecq profile

       At Emma Reynolds profiles Marie Darrieussecq (Pig Tales, etc.) -- and I was not aware of her role at Charlie Hebdo.

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

       A General Theory of Oblivion review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of José Eduardo Agualusa's A General Theory of Oblivion.

       This is one of two titles -- along with the latest Elena Ferrante -- that is a finalist for both the Best Translated Book Award and the Man Booker International Prize this year, so it's hard not to consider it one of the biggest titles-in-translation of 2015.

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

28 April 2016 - Thursday

Kertész Imre funeral | Nigeria Prize for Literature entries
Mario Bellatin Q & A

       Kertész Imre funeral

       As, for example, hlo reports, Imre Kertész laid to rest last Friday, with The Book of Hrabal-author Esterházy Péter and Captivity-author Spiró György delivering the funeral orations for the deceased great.
       The hlo piece has speech excerpts, but you can listen to the Esterházy speech in its entirety in the original -- or read full German and Swedish transcripts. (English ? Ha ... dream on.)

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

       Nigeria Prize for Literature entries

       In The Nation Evelyn Osagie reports that 173 authors in race for NLNG $100k literary prize (meaning, presumably, 173 books, since it's a book prize (though possibly some authors might have entered more than one title ...)).
       The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates through four different genres (poetry, drama, kids' stuff, and prose fiction) -- and they're finally back to the one that counts, which Chika Unigwe won in 2013 -- as she: "beat 213 authors to the prize". (Interesting that there were considerably more entries (entrants) last time around.) Last year was the kid-lit turn, but they didn't find anything was deserving of the prize.
       While this prize will pay out in US dollars (if they award it ...), there's also a literary criticism prize ("open to literary critics from all over the world") which only pays out in local currency -- and while NGN 1,000,000 might sound good, well, it's only about US$5000. Even more depressingly, Osagie reports that they got all of ... two entries for the prize.

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

       Mario Bellatin Q & A

       At Sampsonia Way they now have a transcript of a Q & A with Beauty Salon-author Mario Bellatin.

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

27 April 2016 - Wednesday

Prizes: International Prize for Arabic Fiction - Hugo Awards finalists
Voroshilovgrad review

       Prize: International Prize for Arabic Fiction

       They've announced that Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba [مصائر: كونشرتو الهولوكوست والنكبة] by Rabai al-Madhoun has won this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
       The US$50,000 award is one of the leading Arabic literature prizes, and does the best job of publicizing winning works abroad, with most of them appearing in translation in a variety of languages.
       The winning author is not unknown in English, as Telegram published his (IPAF shortlisted) The Lady from Tel Aviv a few years ago; see their publicity page, and get your copy at or

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

       Prizes: Hugo Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards -- and there's even one of the novel finalists under review at the complete review, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.
       Apparently, there are issues regarding the voting process and campaigns by groups -- of 'Sad Puppies' and 'Rabid Puppies' -- but it's all rather beyond me; see, for example, David Barnett on Hugo awards shortlist dominated by rightwing campaign in The Guardian.

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

       Voroshilovgrad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan's Jan Michalski Prize-winning Voroshilovgrad, just about out from Deep Vellum.

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

26 April 2016 - Tuesday

Prizes: Austrian State Prize for European Literature - Wellcome Book Prize
Q & As: Barbara Epler | Me

       Prize: Austrian State Prize for European Literature

       The Austrian State Prize for European Literature only honors European authors, but as that list of previous winners shows, they have a pretty damn good track record.
       They've now announced the 2016 winner -- albeit only in a ridiculous summary-press release unworthy of the prize -- and it's Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk, who has been reasonably well translated into English. Two of his books are under review at the complete review: Fado and Nine.

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

       Prize: Wellcome Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Wellcome Book Prize (for a book with a: "central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness"), and the £30,000 prize goes to It's All in Your Head (by Suzanne O'Sullivan).
       The US edition is only due out in 2017 (pre-order your copy at, but it's out in paperback in the UK; get your copy at

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

       Q & A: Barbara Epler

       At the Asymptote blog Frances Riddle has a Q & A with New Directions-publisher Barbara Epler, in Publisher Profile: New Directions
       Lots of interesting observations and comments -- and among the most exciting is the mention that New Directions will be publishing (along with books by many other wonderful authors) some more by much-admired-hereabouts Shyness and Dignity-author Dag Solstad.

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

       Q & A: Me

       At the Columbia University Press blog they have An Interview with M. A. Orthofer, author of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- about the site, the book, and international fiction.

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

25 April 2016 - Monday

PEN World Voices Festival | James Tait Black Prizes shortlists

       PEN World Voices Festival

       The PEN World Voices Festival officially starts today in New York City, with a lot of promising-sounding events scheduled. A big Mexican focus, but also a lot beyond that -- well worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood.

       And of course my very own The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction makes a good companion volume to all those interested in this sort of thing ..... (Get your copy at your local bookstore, at, on Kindle, etc.)

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

       James Tait Black Prizes shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for James Tait Black Prizes, with four books in the fiction-running (though none of them are under review at the complete review yet ...).

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

24 April 2016 - Sunday

Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award | Translation in ... India
Signs Preceding the End of the World review

       Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

       They've announced that the (£30,000) Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award was awarded to The Human Phonograph (by Jonathan Tel).

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

       Translation in ... India

       In The Hindu Mini Krishnan considers translation (and proper recognition for translators), in Lost in translation.

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

       Signs Preceding the End of the World review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World -- deservingly shortlisted for this year's Best Translated Book Award (see my previous mention).

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

23 April 2016 - Saturday

Publishing in .... India | Shakespeare's popularity (in the UK)
Svetlana Alexievich profile

       Publishing in .... India

       At they report that: 'An app that aims to transform reading is a huge bet to attract smartphone warriors to books', in Books 2.0: Juggernaut's bold new social reading and publishing venture goes live on mobiles, as juggernaut launches in India.
       E-publishing has been a complete dud in India, so it will be interesting to see whether "original books tailored for mobile and for India" will fly. It would seem to have some potential -- especially at that pricing -- but it will be interesting to see whether it's actually a viable reading/business model.

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

       Shakespeare's popularity (in the UK)

       At YouGov they offer Shakespeare 400 years on: every play ranked by popularity, as they surveyed 1661 adults and asked: "Which, if any, of the following Shakespeare plays have you ever read or seen ?"
       Romeo and Juliet easily tops the list, the only play which more than half the respondents had seen/read; Hamlet is a somewhat surprising distant (31 per cent) fourth -- and I was very surprised that King Lear didn't even break the top ten.
       (See also the full(er) survey breakdown (warning ! dreaded pdf format !). Among the observations there: Scottish respondents were less likely than the national average to have seen/read Macbeth -- and far behind Londoners; the only play male respondents were more likely to have seen/read than female ones was ... King John (3 per cent to 2), while several plays were far more likely to have been seen/read by women (notably Romeo and Juliet (62:40) and As You Like it (21:10)); and a far-above average (5 per cent) of Londoners answered 'Don't know' (9 per cent).)

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

       Svetlana Alexievich profile

       Nobel laureate (and Voices from Chernobyl-author) Svetlana Alexievich is profiled in the Kyiv Post, as Olga Rudenko describes Svetlana Alexievich on her path in literature.

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

22 April 2016 - Friday

Publishing in ... India | Gruppe 47 in Princeton | The CR Guide on Kindle

       Publishing in ... India

       Vinutha Mallya's lengthy piece on 'The possibilities and pitfalls before India's publishing industry' in The Caravan, Numbers and Letters, is now freely accessible online -- a good overview of the current state of affairs and some of the (logistical and other) issues the industry has to deal with.

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

       Gruppe 47 in Princeton

       Fifty years ago today the German group of everyone-who-was-anyone authors, the 'Gruppe 47', ventured to Princeton for an infamous get-together (that also pretty much killed the group-as-group (though its more-or-less demise was already very much in that late-60s air), and really put Peter Handke on the map).
       They have a page on it at the Princeton University site -- and, more impressively, they have the audio recordings from (almost) all the readings.
       The German feuilletons are full of anniversary coverage, though the impression stateside seems to have been less ... lasting. But maybe someone will publish a translation of Jörg Magenau's new Princeton 66: Die abenteuerliche Reise der Gruppe 47 (see the Klett-Cotta publicity page) .....

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

       The CR Guide on Kindle

       You've already gotten your copy of my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2016), haven't you ?
       It's now available in most formats, in most places (get your local bookstore and library to order copies if, ridiculously, they don't have any at hand !) -- including finally (for some reason it took a while) in a Kindle version. So if that's your preferred format, you can opt for that one now, too.

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

21 April 2016 - Thursday

Borges and Cervantes | Boekenweekgeschenk 2017
Arjuna and the Hunter review

       Borges and Cervantes

       At the Literary Hub Ilan Stavans and William P. Childers discuss What Borges Learned From Cervantes: On Language, and the Thin Line Between Fiction and Reality.
       They discuss 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote' at some length -- with Stavans suggesting it's:
arguably his most influential story and -- I don't believe I'm over-inflating it ! -- perhaps the most important one of the entire 20th century
       As long-time readers know, I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I've always admired and enjoyed Borges' (see also my review of his Collected Fictions) and, along with Hugo von Hofmannsthal's 'Chandos-letter' ('Ein Brief'), 'Pierre Menard' is probably the only short story I would count as among the most influential(-on-me) literary works I've read (top twenty-five, certainly; maybe even top ten, depending on the day).

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

       Boekenweekgeschenk 2017

       They've announced that The Dinner-author Herman Koch wil be writing next year's 'Boekenweekgeschenk' -- the widely, freely distributed work written by a Dutch author that is the centerpiece of the big annual Boekenweek.
       Pretty much everyone who is anyone in Dutch writing gets a go at this -- and quite a few of the resulting titles are even under review at the complete review: Hugo Claus' The Swordfish (1989), Cees Nooteboom's The Following Story (1991), A.F.Th. van der Heijden's Weerborstels (1992), and Harry Mulisch's Het theater, de brief en de waarheid (2000).

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

       Arjuna and the Hunter review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bharavi's ca. 6th century Sanskrit classic, Arjuna and the Hunter, just out in Harvard University Press' Murty Classical Library of India-series.

       This is the first one in the series I've covered (I only recently got my first batch, of the four most recent releases), and I'm very impressed by the look (and content) of these volumes. Bilingual editions -- covering a wide range of languages, not just Sanskrit -- they're definitely yet another original-text-plus-translation classics-series that is well worth collecting (following on the Loeb Classical Library and the Library of Arabic Literature).
       It's disappointing, however, to see how politicized this series has (bizarrely) become there where it should be most celebrated -- in India: see, for (a horrible) example, the 'customer reviews' for this title at

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

20 April 2016 - Wednesday

Best Translated Book Awards finalists | International Book Festival Budapest
The Lights of Pointe-Noire review-overview

       Best Translated Book Awards finalists

       They've announced the Best Translated Book Awards finalists -- ten titles in the fiction category, six in poetry.

       The fiction finalists are:
  • Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated from the French by Donald Winkler (Canada, Biblioasis)
  • The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (Brazil, New Directions)
  • A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Angola, Archipelago Books)
  • Moods by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Israel, New Directions)
  • Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie (France, Wakefield Press)
  • The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Bulgaria, Open Letter)
  • Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Mexico, And Other Stories)
  • The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)
  • War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Spain, Open Letter)
       About half what I expected, half I certainly did not -- and a pretty far cry from what I would have chosen: looking back to my picks -- the top ten and top twenty-five that would have been my choices had I been a judge this year -- my favorites went zero-for-ten (top ten picks) and 4-for-25 overall .....
       Still, lots of good books here -- and some nice variety. And there's still the possibility for a Man Booker International Prize-BTBA double this year, with both the Ferrante and Agualusa now finalists for both prizes.
       Being so obviously out of tune with the judges' tastes I won't hazard a guess as to who might take the prize -- though I suspect Lispector and Ferrante must be the front-runners.
       The winner will be announced on 4 May.

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

       International Book Festival Budapest

       The International Book Festival Budapest begins tomorrow, running through the 24th.
       Slovakia is the 'guest of honour'-country, and while they've enticed few US or UK authors, there will be a very full slate of Hungarian authors present.

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

       The Lights of Pointe-Noire review-overview

       The most recent addition to the complete review is a review-overview of A Memoir by Alain Mabanckou, The Lights of Pointe-Noire.
       I still can't work myself up to writing about memoirs at the moment, but figured it was worth posting the review-overview for the links to other reviews -- in particular because, after being widely and well covered in the UK it was recently published in the US, to very little notice.
       I'm baffled why it hasn't attracted more US attention yet. After all, Mabanckou is well know here, too -- and he has been a resident for ages, teaching at UCLA.

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

19 April 2016 - Tuesday

Prizes: Pulitzers - Prix mondial Cino Del Duca
The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction
The Master Key review

       Prizes: Pulitzers

       As widely reported, they've announced this year's Pulitzer Prizes -- and the fiction prize went to The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen -- conveniently just out in paperback.
       It beat out finalists Get in Trouble by Kelly Link and Maud's Line by Margaret Verble (though unfortunately we do not know what other titles the judges were allowed to consider, since they don't reveal these ...), as selected by judges Art Winslow, Edward P. Jones, and Leah Price.
       See the Grove publicity page , or get your copy at or
       I actually have this, so there's a chance I might get to it (someday ...); my track record with the Pulitzers isn't great -- though I did get to the two most recent I reviewed before they picked up the prize: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2014) and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2003).

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

       Prize: Prix mondial Cino Del Duca

       They've apparently announced that Sylvie Germain has won this year's Prix mondial Cino Del Duca, which she gets to pick up -- along with the €200,000 (!) prize money -- 8 June. Not that they've managed to mention this at the official site, last I checked -- but Livres Hebdo has the scoop.
       (Recent winners include Patrick Modiano (2010), Milan Kundera (2009), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2008) -- and Alejo Carpentier got it back in 1975 -- so: pretty decent track record.)

       I have to admit that I've never really gotten Germain -- and the only one of her titles under review at the complete review is The Weeping Woman on the Streets of Prague --, but Dedalus are all in with her and one hopes they'll reap some benefits from this.

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

       The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction

       It's already been available via Amazon for a few weeks now, but this is the originally announced official publication date for my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction, and so it should now be more or less readily available at you local bookstore, so you have even less of an excuse for not having gotten your hands on a copy yet .....
       The Goodreads reactions (and those elsewhere) have been very kind, and it's gratifying to see that readers seem to appreciate what I've done -- I hope you will too.
       (Get your copy at, if not your local bookstore; at it appears to be 'currently unavailable' -- and is apparently only officially dropping there in mid-May ...).

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

       The Master Key review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Togawa Masako's first mystery (from 1962), The Master Key.

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

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