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26 May 2016 - Thursday

Q & As: Can Xue - Fariba Hachtroudi
Translation pieces at the Literary Hub | Yang Jiang (1911-2016)

       Q & A: Can Xue

       At Sixth Tone Zang Jixian has a Q&A with Author Can Xue on the State of Chinese Literature
       Can Xue is the author whose The Last Lover won last year's Best Translated Book Award (for which I was a judge); see also the Yale University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Among the interesting/depressing answers:
Zang Jixian: Your works are gaining a large readership in the English-speaking world. What would you say are the reasons ?

Can Xue: It's mostly because I integrate a lot of Western cultural elements in my work. I believe I'm doing the best job among Chinese writers in that aspect. Therefore, foreign readers can accept my work as literature.
Zang Jixian: Could you evaluate the current situation of China's literary world ?

Can Xue: I've said it before: I have no hope, and I don't feel like evaluating it.

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

       Q & A: Fariba Hachtroudi

       At Sampsonia Way they now have a transcript of their Q&A with Fariba Hachtroudi, whose The Man Who Snapped His Fingers recently came out from Europa Editions; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or
       I do like this reaction:
The publisher suggested cutting the length of the book. And I said, "Instead of trimming the book, I'm going to add."
       (Her reasoning is, of course, entirely sensible.)

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

       Translation pieces at the Literary Hub

       At the Literary Hub they have six new translation-related pieces (as they're apparently 'Celebrating Translation Month', whatever that might be ...).
       It's all worth a look -- despite some really lax fact-checking in several places ..... (E.g.: "In 2015, 570 translated books were published in the United States" writes Anjali Enjeti -- relying on the invaluable Three Percent database, but ignoring what databaser Chad Post always makes very clear, that that refers only to: "titles that have never before appeared in English" (in the US); the actual number of 'translated books' published is, of course many times larger, thanks to new translations of previously translated titles and, especially, reprints of previously published translations.)

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

       Yang Jiang (1911-2016)

       One suspects that the reason for obituaries in e.g. The New York Times and The Washington Post have more to do with her centenarian- than literary-status; regardless, the death of Chinese author (and translator) Yang Jiang deserves the notice -- even if her work hasn't made much of an English impression.
       She's perhaps best know in the English-speaking world as the wife of Qian Zhongshu, author the classic Fortress Besieged; see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at or, but her own companion piece of sorts, Baptism, -- though much harder to find -- is also worth a look; see the Hong Kong University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

25 May 2016 - Wednesday

Pan Tadeusz Museum | Stone Tablets review

       Pan Tadeusz Museum

       Adam Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz is, of course, the great(est) Polish epic poem, and they've now opened up a museum dedicated to it, in Wrocław, the Muzeum Pana Tadeusza.
       Looks pretty fancy; see also, for example, the Radio Poland report, Museum dedicated to Polish literary classic.
       And if you're tempted to dip into the Mickiewicz in preparation for a visit, the dual-language Hippocrene Books edition of Pan Tadeusz, with the translation by Kenneth R. MacKenzie, looks like a handy volume; don't bother with their publicity-page (the world's least impressive publicity-page for a book ?), but get your copy at or

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

       Stone Tablets review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Wojciech Żukrowski's Stone Tablets, a 1966 Polish novel -- set in 1950s India, no less -- that's only now appearing in English, from Paul Dry Books.

       (I was amused when I realized that I've actually read a work by Żukrowski before -- his Nieśmiały narzeczony, in a German translation (Der schüchterne Bräutigam) in a flimsy little East German paperback in Aufbau Verlag's paperback 'bb'-line that I picked up and read in the mid-1980s.)

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

24 May 2016 - Tuesday

RSL Ondaatje Prize | ACF Translation Prize open for submissions

       RSL Ondaatje Prize

       They've announced that Nothing is True and Everything is Possible (by Peter Pomerantsev) has won this year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, an: "annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" (in this case, as the sub-title has it: "The Surreal Heart of the New Russia").
       See also the publicity pages at Faber & Faber and PublicAffairs, or get your copy at or

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

       ACF Translation Prize open for submissions

       The Austrian Cultural Forum has opened its call for the 2017 prize -- and while you have until 10 October to submit (a sample translation (ca. 4000 words/10 pages), of prose or poetry by a living Austrian author first published in the original German after 1945) it's never too early .....

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

23 May 2016 - Monday

Bottom's Dream anticipation | Science fiction ... China

       Bottom's Dream anticipation

       The weightiest translation in recent memory -- Zibaldone may have a greater page-count, but it doesn't come close, measured in words or in kilos --, Arno Schmidt's monumental Bottom's Dream, is due out in John E. Wood's career-culminating translation from Dalkey Archive Press in September, and via I see now that it is closer than ever to reality: the Arno Schmidt Stiftung (who I suspect subsidized this volume most generously) have posted a picture of an actual copy -- a 'Vorabexemplar' -- at their blog:

Bottom's Dream a reality

       Oh, yes !
       Oh, very much yes !

       Meanwhile, of course, you can prepare for the reading ... pleasure ? adventure ? experience ? ... all that and more, with my introductory Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy -- or, for a more direct taste of what Schmidt is up to, the also-John E. Woods-translated The School for Atheists.
       And you can always already take the plunge and pre-order your copy of Bottom's Dream -- as quite surprisingly many brave (would-be, hopeful) readers have done -- at or (Don't hold out for the Kindle- (or any e-book-)edition -- that's not coming anytime soon, for reasons that will be obvious when you take a look at the print edition.)

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

       Science fiction ... China

       Via Paper Republic I'm pointed to Yin Lu's Global Times report, claiming As Chinese sci-fi picks up steam, it's finding fans around the world.
       Certainly, Liu Cixin, with his trilogy beginning with The Three-Body Problem has helped generate some interest -- but there is still quite a way to go, both regarding foreign interest as well as Chinese science fiction itself.

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

22 May 2016 - Sunday

PalFest | Chart Korbjitti's Facebook novel


       The Palestine Festival of Literature started yesterday, and runs through the 26th.
       Nobel laureate J.M.Coetzee is probably the most prominent participant, but that's quite a group they've gathered, and I look forward to the festival reports.

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

       Chart Korbjitti's Facebook novel

       In the Bangkok Post Kaona Pongpipat reports on Time-author Chart Korbjitti's latest 'novel', an experimental work based on his social media musings' titled facebook: โลกอันซ้อนกันอยู่, in Chart-ing Facebook.
       Naturally, there is also a Facebook-page for the book .....
       Yes, he does consider it a novel:
It's an experimental work in terms of the platform. Issues I raised in my posts, if we are to consider this a novel, are the characters. The book has every element a novel needs, the emotions, the subplots, the atmosphere, the ups and downs, and the climax.
       Okay .....

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

21 May 2016 - Saturday

Sophie Kerr Prize | Albina and the Dog-Men review

       Sophie Kerr Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College, "the largest undergraduate literary award" in the US, worth US$65,770 this year (the total varies year to year, depending on the performance of the endowment).
       "Reilly D. Cox, a double major in English and theatre with a minor in creative writing" takes this year's prize,
       See the page on all the finalists to see who he beat out -- and samples of all the finalists' work.

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

       Albina and the Dog-Men review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Albina and the Dog-Men, just out in English from Restless Books.

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

20 May 2016 - Friday

Second-hand translation | Indonesian recommendations
Han Kang Q & A

       Second-hand translation

       You'd think -- indeed, I suspect most readers are convinced of it -- that there's simply no reason for this to happen any longer -- and yet it does. Yes, there are still books being published in English translation that are not being translated directly from the language they were written in, but rather via a translation from another language.
       A recent example, pointed out to me by a reader, is Agata Tuszyńska's memoir, Family History of Fear, just out from Alfred A. Knopf (an outfit which you'd think would know better; surely Blanche would blanch ...); see their publicity page -- which, you'll note doesn't so much as mention any sort of translator involvement (other than that Tuszyńska "is the author of six collections of internationally translated poetry" ,,,), or get your copy at
       At Amazon you can 'Look inside' -- and get a look at that shocking copyright-page, where they admit, in small print: "This translation is based on the French edition", and that the book is: "Translated by Charles Ruas from the French of Jean-Yves Erhel". (Adding further insult to all this injury, Ruas didn't even get the translation copyright -- Knopf took care of that too.)
       Yes, occasionally translation via other translations is justified -- and, indeed, many translations from 'smaller' languages into other smaller ones often happen via the English translation -- but this instance looks pretty dubious (to put it politely) to me. Polish is not exactly an obscure language, and there are several first-rate translators(-directly)-from-the-Polish out there (Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Bill Johnston, for a start), and it's hard to imagine as much is gained via the French translation -- no matter how masterful Jean-Yves Erhel's work is -- as is lost by the two-fold translation process.

       Of course, maybe the explanation is that Americans have become such translation-enthusiasts that they think the more translations a book has been through the better .....

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

       Indonesian recommendations

       In The Jakarta Post Masajeng Rahmiasri offers a list of 12 Indonesian books you should add to your reading list.
       Several of them are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Han Kang Q & A

       At list they quickly get on board, and offer an Interview: 2016 Man Booker International Prize Winner Han Kang -- with a focus, naturally, on her prize-winning novel, The Vegetarian.

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

19 May 2016 - Thursday

Shortlists: Internationaler Literaturpreis | Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize
Man Booker International Prize sales boost ? | Japanese literary prizes
Baba Dunja's Last Love review

       Shortlist: Internationaler Literaturpreis

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's 'Internationaler Literaturpreis', a leading German prize for works of contemporary literature in German translation awarded by the 'Haus der Kulturen der Welt' ('house of the cultures of the world'). (At €20,000 for the author of the winning title, and €15,000 for the translator it also doesn't lag far behind the Man Booker International Prize in pay-out, either.)
       Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the six titles was written in English -- and it's not by an American or British author, but rather by South African Ivan Vladislavić, the wonderful Double Negative. The other title under review at the complete review is The Story of My Teeth (whose English translation has been doing well on the literary prize (translation and otherwise) circuit too).
       The winner will be announced 14 June (though the awards ceremony will only be on 25 June).

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

       Shortlist: Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize -- eight books selected from "nearly 110 titles in translations from 15 different languages".
       Though limited to (living) European languages, the prize does consider any "book-length literary translations into English" -- so there is a poetry volume along with a number of works of fiction.
       Two of the finalists are under review at the complete review: John Cullen's translation of Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation and Lisa C. Hayden's translation of Eugene Vodolazkin's Laurus.
       The winner will be announced 11 June.

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

       Man Booker International Prize sales boost ?

       It's a bit early to see whether there has been a sales boost for Han Kang's Man Booker International Prize-winner The Vegetarian, but in their slightly misleadingly titled article, Man Booker Prize pushes sales of 'The Vegetarian' overseas, The Korea Times does report that:
(T)he book has gone into a second printing of 20,000 copies in the United Kingdom and 7,500 copies in the United States.
       More interesting is that, as Choi Jae-bong reports at The Hankyoreh, in South Korea itself:
News of the Man Booker Prize nomination of The Vegetarian resulted in sales of over 40,000 copies for the novel, published in Korean in 2007. Around 4,000 copies each were sold at Kyobo Books and on the online bookstore Aladdin on the award date of May 17 alone; at another online bookstore, Yes24, sales were up by 38 times from the day before.
       Not bad.

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

       Japanese literary prizes

       Daisuke Kikuchi reports on the winners of the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize and the Yukio Mishima Prize, with Confessions-author Minato Kanae taking the former ("an entertainment award"), and eighty-year-old Hasumi Shigehiko taking the latter ("given for pure literature and essays").
       Amusingly, in the Asahi Shimbun they report that:
This literary prize is awarded to up-and-coming novelists, but Hasumi is 80 years old. He is well known as a critic. But since his award-winning novel was just his third, it appears he was considered an "up-and-comer."

"I consider this an extremely lamentable thing for Japanese culture," Hasumi said about being selected for the award at his age.

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

       Baba Dunja's Last Love review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alina Bronsky's Baba Dunja's Last Love.
       This was longlisted for last year's German Book Prize, and is just out from Europa Editions.

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

18 May 2016 - Wednesday

Writing in ... Singapore | Tbilisi International Festival of Literature

       Writing in ... Singapore

       In The Straits Times Lee Jian Xuan reports at some length that Singapore's literary scene enjoying revival.

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

       Tbilisi International Festival of Literature

       The Tbilisi International Festival of Literature runs through 21 May, and the programme looks pretty interesting. (I'd be particularly interested in the discussion on the 'Soviet Inheritance in Post-Soviet Literature; with Yurii Andrukhovych and Dmitry Bykov, among others.)
       See also the overview at, Top authors in town for Tbilisi International Festival of Literature.

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

17 May 2016 - Tuesday

Prizes: Man Booker International Prize - Joseph-Breitbach-Preis
NSW Premier's Literary Awards
The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction in the UK

       Prize: Man Booker International Prize

       They've announced that the 2016 Man Booker International Prize goes to The Vegetarian (by Han Kang, and translated by Deborah Smith -- who share the £50,000 winnings).

       (A reminder that the Man Booker International Prize used to be a biennial award that honored authors (whose work was written in, or widely available in, English) for their life's work, but that starting this year the Man Booker International Prize is what the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was (and replaces that award in its entirety) -- an annual award for best translated work published in the UK over the previous year (more or less -- the 'year'-eligibility was stretched for this go-round ...) except that there is now more money on offer (and they call it the 'Man Booker International Prize').)
       A worthy winner -- and there's still a chance this will be the first book to win both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Man Booker International Prize and the Best Translated Book Award -- albeit in different years, as The Vegetarian, published in the US considerably after it was in the UK, will only be eligible for next year's BTBA award.

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

       Prize: Joseph-Breitbach-Preis

       They've announced that the 2016 Joseph-Breitbach-Preis will be awarded to Reiner Stach, for his work in literary biography -- specifically, his three-volume Kafka biography, the final volume (covering Kafka's earliest years) of which is due out in English in November; see the Princeton University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or
       This prize has a pretty decent list of winners -- which includes W.G.Sebald (2000), Herta Müller (2003), and Jenny Erpenbeck (2013).
       Stach gets to pick his €50,000 up on 16 September.

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

       Prizes: NSW Premier's Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's (Australian) NSW Premier's Literary Awards -- possibly even at the official site, but I can't make heads or tails (much less want to wade through) that user-unfriendliest of abominations.
       Fortunately, you can find the winners listed at the end of Susan Wyndham's coverage of the awards in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled and noting: Indigenous writers rise to the top of the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

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

       The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction in the UK

       My book, The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction came out in the US last month, and today is apparently the offical UK (and beyond ...) publication date -- so if you haven't pre-ordered or gotten your copy yet, you can now easily from and the like (and, of course, you can get your copy in the US, too, from your local bookseller, or, etc. ...).

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

16 May 2016 - Monday

Shalimar the Clown, the opera ? | ZIBF preparations | The Widow review

       Shalimar the Clown, the opera ?

       Yes, apparently the world premiere of an opera version of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown -- music by Jack Perla, libretto by Rajiv Joseph -- will take place at the Opera Theatre of St.Louis 11 June.

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

       ZIBF preparations

       The Zimbabwe International Book Fair runs 27 to 30 July this year, and in The Herald they're suggesting It's time to revamp ZIBF.
       There's much reveling in what once was -- "ZIBF used to be one of the prestigious events on the local arts calendar and many renowned figures in the world of literature visited the country to attend the fair" -- but things haven't been going quite so well in recent years, as: "strategies to make the fete attractive seem to evade custodians of the event". A shame.

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

       The Widow review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's 1942 novel, The Widow -- one of his darker, non-Maigret titles, which New York Review Books re-issued a couple of years ago
       This was made into a film in 1971, with some pretty good casting: it starred Alain Delon and Simone Signoret.

       In his Introduction to the NYRB edition, Paul Theroux notes that Simenon was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, and: "predicted in 1937 that he would win it within ten years" -- and that he was outraged that "that asshole" Camus got it (in 1957) before he did. Simenon as Nobel laureate may sound unlikely but he was indeed -- regularly -- nominated for the prize (albeit only starting in 1958 -- the year after Camus' win). [Recall that you have to be in it -- nominated -- to win it: Proust, Kafka, Joyce, and many others never were.] The records are only open to 1965 so far (they're only opened fifty years after the fact), but Simenon already managed seven nominations by then; given that he only died in 1989, it's distinctly possible that he eventually was nominated more often than Camus (eleven times, in seven different years).
       It's still unclear whether he was ever a serious contender, but the nominations -- including multiple ones in 1958 (three -- or were they all just reacting to the Camus win ?) and 1961 (two) -- suggest quite a few folks thought he should be.

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

15 May 2016 - Sunday

Prizes: Sunday Times Fiction Prize shortlist - Dylan Thomas Prize
Frédéric Dard

       Prize: Sunday Times Fiction Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's (South African) Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize
       The winner will be announced 25 June.

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

       Prize: Dylan Thomas Prize

       The International Dylan Thomas Prize is only limitedly international -- "The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under", but I guess 'international' sounds better than 'monolingual' ... -- but is otherwise a nice idea, and they've announced that this year's winner is Grief is the Thing with Feathers (by Max Porter).
       The US edition is due out shortly, from Graywolf Press -- pre-order your copy at -- or get your copy from

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

       Frédéric Dard

       Good to see some Frédéric Dard anticipation-excitement building, as Pushkin Press are set to publish a couple by the prolific (and super-best-selling) French master -- even if it comes with horrific headlines such as 'Unknown' French author's noir crime novels set for UK, as Dalya Alberge writes in The Observer.
       'Unknown' in quotation marks indeed -- Dard has sold ... more than most (literally hundreds of millions of copies). But, yes, he's not well-represented in English (but I did slip him in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction because ... Frédéric Dard ! come on !).
       And, yes, Pushkin's commissioning editor Daniel Seton is correct in noting that one reason so little has been translated into English is because especially the San-Antonio books (the bulk of his output) rely on language-play that's hard to translate, while these 'novels of the night' (that Pushkin is focusing on): "are less reliant on that kind of wordplay". Nevertheless, the translator of the first title they're publishing is none other than master word-playing translator David Bellos. It's already under review at the complete review, too: Bird in a Cage.
       Reviews of the other ones will follow just as soon as I can get my hands on them.

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

14 May 2016 - Saturday

Lydia Davis Q & A | 'The Sound of Translation' panel
The Bulgarian Truck review

       Lydia Davis Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Liesl Schillinger inaugurates what sounds like a promising series of conversations with literary translators which, she explains: "reflect my desire to learn as much as I could about these masters, and to share with you some of the secrets of their art: I wanted to translate the translators".
       First up in this series of/on 'Multilingual Wordsmiths' is Lydia Davis and Translationese.

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

       'The Sound of Translation' panel

       On Tuesday 17 May, at 19:30, there will be a panel on The Sound of Translation at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, moderated by Liesl Schillinger (who is obviously prepped and ready for some serious translation discussion; see above), with Tess Lewis, Rüdiger Wischenbart, Ross Ufberg, and yours truly.
       As if that weren't exciting enough, it's a three-for-one event, as this year's ACFNY Translation Prize will also be launched, and the Diversity Report 2016 will be introduced.

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

       The Bulgarian Truck review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dumitru Tsepeneag's A Building Site Beneath the Open Sky, The Bulgarian Truck, recently published by Dalkey Archive Press.

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

13 May 2016 - Friday

Norway 2019 Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair
Caine Prize shortlist | José Eduardo Agualusa Q & A

       Norway 2019 Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair

       Planning ahead, they've announced that Norway is the Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2019.
       This year's guest of honour will be Flanders and the Netherlands, followed by France (2017) and Georgia (2018)
       Norway "boasts some of Europe's leading contemporary writers" I note in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (sorry -- no shame here re. plugs and reminders why you need this book) -- indeed, it might be one of the few countries which doesn't even really need that Frankfurt-boost (though of course the same could be said for juggernaut-in-translation France ...); still, this should be good.

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

       Caine Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Caine Prize for African Writing -- selected from 166 stories by writers from 23 African countries.
       You can read the shortlisted stories at the official site; the winner will be announced 4 July, in Oxford (yes, the Oxford in the UK, because ... it's a prize for African writing, so ... of course ...).

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

       José Eduardo Agualusa Q & A

       José Eduardo Agualusa's A General Theory of Oblivion was a finalist this year for both the Best Translated Book Award and the Man Booker International Prize -- it didn't win the BTBA, but still has a chance to take the MBIP next week -- and at the PEN Atlas Tasja Dorkofikis has a Q & A with the author.
       As he admits, the novel is not based on a true story: "Ludo is me, or was me, during a certain period when I was living in Luanda, in that very building."
       Interesting also to hear:
How do you think Angolan writing is influenced by Brazilian and Portuguese writing and vice versa ?

Brazilian literature was -- at least until the late 1970s -- very important for the development of Angola's writers. Essential, even. It doesn't seem so important now. All the same, it does still have more impact than Portuguese literature.

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

12 May 2016 - Thursday

Writing in ... Malay(sia) | Sphinx Q & A | Constellation review

       Writing in ... Malay(sia)

       Oh, dear ! As the Malay Mail reports: "literary laureate Datuk Zurinah Hassan is appalled at the taste of local readers".
       Don't they know better ? Don't they know what's better for them ? (Because Zurinah apparently does .....)
       Apparently not:
Worse still, these works of fiction are not written in proper, scholarly, Bahasa Melayu as their authors have opted for a modernised version of the language, complete with a generous dose of slang -- certainly not the stuff Malay literature or Bahasa Melayu teachers would recommend to their students to read.
       Shocking, isn't it ?
       Zurinah adds:
It will also have adverse effects on character building ... and even pose a threat to the very future of our race as our civilisation is known for its rich literary and cultural history.
       And displaying an ... unusual sense of irony:
She also found it ironic that novelists who pay no heed to syntax or the nuances of the Malay language were producing works that outsell books authored by national laureates and other esteemed authors.
       And my favorite idea:
She also urged Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka to exercise more creativity when publishing reading materials and to refrain from bringing out publications merely on account of their popularity with the people or their profitability.
       Publish books that people actually read or are even willing to buy ? -- no, standards must be higher !
       No mention, however, of how this culture decline/death spiral might affect those plans/hopes for a Malaysian Nobel laureate in 2057 .....

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

       Sphinx Q & A

       At The Atlantic Stephanie Hayes has a Q & A with the translator of Anne Garréta's Sphinx, Emma Ramadan, The Challenge of Genderless Characters.

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

       Constellation review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Adrien Bosc's 2014 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française-winning Constellation, just out in English from Other Press.

       (This is -- surprisingly, to me -- the tenth Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française-winning title under review at the complete review -- one more than there are Goncourt-winners. It's also the second I've reviewed in less than a month -- with another (the just re-issued-in English 1971 winner) on deck .....)

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

11 May 2016 - Wednesday

Prizes: Leopold-Lucas-Preis - New Zealand Book Awards
Italian Q & A

       Prize: Leopold-Lucas-Preis

       The Dr. Leopold-Lucas-Preis is a €50,000 prize, awarded annually by the University of Tübingen for outstanding achievement in the fields of theology, history, philosophy, or the like, and while there's no word yet at the official site, they have announced that the 2016 winner will be Adam Zagajewski; see, for example, the Radio Poland report.
       Two of Zagajewski's books are under review at the complete review: Another Beauty and Canvas.

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

       Prizes: New Zealand Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards, with Coming Rain (by Stephen Daisley) beating out 62 other submitted titles for best novel (see also the Text publicity page), while Witi Ihimaera won in the memoir category.

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

       Italian Q & A

       Always nice to see the foreign press take an interest in the site and what I do, as la Repubblica now run Gianluca Modolo's Q & A with a celebrità del web me.

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

10 May 2016 - Tuesday

Success in translation ! | Libris Literatuur Prijs
A Fine Line review

       Success in translation !

       The Man Booker International Prize commissioned a report based on Nielsen BookScan numbers in the UK and found that First research on the sales of translated fiction in the UK shows growth and comparative strength of international fiction.
       The numbers are impressive, as from 2001 to 2015 "translated fiction rose from 1.3 million copies sold a year to 2.5 million. In the literary fiction market, the rise was from 1 million copies to 1.5 million" (note that the 'literary fiction' definition apparently includes Paulo Coelho, so that bar really couldn't be set much lower ...). Some actual sales numbers -- of individual titles -- too, which is helpful, including for the top translated sellers in both 2001 and 2015 -- whereby it's kind of impressive that The Alchemist makes both lists (i.e. continues to sell) -- and also that Suite française continues to sell so well, also making the 2015 list.
       Please do note that the information/numbers on offer are very selective -- some in-between numbers would have been ... helpful, to see whether the trend is year-to-year or whether 2001 and 2015 are outliers, etc. etc.
       (Note, also, that they do note about all this: "This project is ongoing and due to the lack of standard international data on transalations [sic], subject to revision".)
       I hope someone has a go at this with US data too -- hard though it is to deal with (so many issues ...).

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

       Libris Literatuur Prijs

       The Libris Literatuur Prijs is one of the leading Dutch novel prizes (and pays out €50,000 to the winner), and they've announced that Jij zegt het, by Connie Palmen, has taken this year's prize.
       This is a novel about ... Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, told from Hughes' point of view; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page for an English overview.

       None of Palmen's novels are under review at the complete review at this time, but several have been translated into English; get your copy of The Laws, for example, at or
       (And, yes, of course: Palmen does rate a (short) mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction: check out her relationship novels, I suggest -- and here's another.)

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

       A Fine Line review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gianrico Carofiglio's A Fine Line -- the fifth in his Guido Guerrieri-series, just out from Bitter Lemon Press.

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

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