Local barkeep M.A.Orthofer is moving (or trying to ...), and so things might be slow (and particularly cranky) over the next few days, until he's nicely settled in in his new domicile.
The fact that it's BEA-time in NYC isn't helping matters, but that's the least of his problems .....
We hope everything is back to normal by early next week; meanwhile, don't expect too much new material hereabouts -- or receptiveness/responsiveness to e-mail.
Note to publicists and publishers: yes, the change of address means books and galleys must now be sent elsewhere; we'll let you know post-BEA .....
Börsenbalttreport on a forsa-poll commissioned by German bookseller Hugendubel, finding that only 31 per cent of the 1004 people they questioned said TV shows influenced their book-buying habits -- while 43 per cent said they were influenced by reviews in newspapers and magazines.
(None of the German shows has anything like the Richard & Judy or Oprah ! impact, but there are book-centred shows that do reach large audiences.)
But it's the recommendations of friends that are most influential -- 76 per cent say that's a factor
Interesting: the significance of some of the other factors:
37 per cent: bestseller lists
28 per cent: advertising (!)
22 per cent: reviews on the Internet
Of course, the low rank of Internet-reviews also presumably has to do with the fact that fewer people see them than, say, advertising -- or newspaper reviews.
New York offers some decent book coverage in a longer Book Hunt-section.
Among the pieces of interest (and good debate-fodder): "Sixty-one critics reveal their favorite underrated book of the past ten years" in The Best Novels Youíve Never Read (colour-coded, no less) and a look at "Which novels -- and novelists -- from the past several years will be taught in 50 yearsí time ?" in The Future Canon
Scary, however, the look at The Early Word on Summerís Debut Novels.
One shouldn't judge on the basis of such limited information, but these look like books we'll try our best to avoid.
Günter Grass' SS-past-acknowledging memoir, Peeling the Onion is due out in about a week in the UK, and a month in the US (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and compare the different covers ...).
For those who can't wait, The New Yorker offers a long excerpt, How I Spent the War.
Even the best-read and most inquiring among us were constrained by language, and the availability of books in translation into English or other Indian languages.
What I see of Marathi literature, for instance, is just the tip of the iceberg; what a Kannada author saw of Bengali literature was only a small sample of what has been published.
Canvassing bookstores over the next few weeks, I discovered that Indian literature in English translation can be very hard to find.
Srilal Shuklaís classic Raag Darbari, a satire that should be on the required reading list of every politician and voter in the country, was unavailable in several bookstores, though I hear that a new translation will be out soon.
U.R.Ananthamurthyís Samskara was available in a few bookstores, but a friend who has read the original says that the translation is clunky, ungraceful and inadequate.
There are some good translations out there, but they arenít easy to find.
Compare this also to our mention yesterday about Gujarati literature -- and the Sonal Modi quote:
Today, majority of youngsters grow up studying in English medium schools and their mother-tongue becomes their second language.
They need to appreciate their own literature even if it means reading translated works.
We're an hour and a half in, and I still have no idea what's going on.
How inconsiderate that a prize for the best work of international fiction published in Italy should be conducted in Italian.
And, what's more, in Italy.
In the Times of India Pratiksha Thanki writes about Lost voices.
Apparently, Gujarati literature isn't doing too well -- "Bholabhai Patel believes, 'The recent original works do not have the 'satva' (substance) that can stand out' " -- and:
Gujarati readership is also declining.
As noted writer and translator Sonal Modi says, "Today, majority of youngsters grow up studying in English medium schools and their mother-tongue becomes their second language.
They need to appreciate their own literature even if it means reading translated works.
Some recent translated works have been lucky, otherwise, in spite of good marketing, it is difficult to sell regional books here."
In the Mail & Guardian Darryl Accone "examines the culture and commercial imperatives of book awards", in Enemy or promise ?, as:
Mid-June marks the prize-hunting season here. Within the 48 hours of June 16 and 17, the winners of three sets of major literary awards will be made known.
The Sunday Times and Alan Paton awards go out on June 16, followed by the M-Net Literary Awards (shortlists announced this week, and listed here) and the Via Afrika Literary Awards.
This weekend, in anticipation of the Sydney Writers' Festival, which opens on Monday, a seminar on White's work, Remembering Patrick White, is being held at the festival headquarters, Bangarra Theatre in The Rocks.
Today and tomorrow literary scholars, critics, writers and members of that so-often underestimated "general reading public" will explore the whys and hows of White's enduring significance to Australian literature, including its pretentious fart-arsery, no doubt.
We're always all for any efforts to remember and remind readers of the great Patrick White -- and we're impressed that the seminar has its own official site.
Last year was a record publishing year for childrenís books in Sweden, thanks in large part to detective books, which are boosting sales and bringing young readers back to books.
Popular themes among childrenís books tend to follow the trends in adult literature, and detective novels are hot now.
No fewer than 75 mystery books were published for children in 2006, compared with 21 in 2000.
Helpfully, they also provide some hard numbers -- including:
1,515 children and young peopleís books were published in Sweden in 2006.
638 were Swedish titles (42 percent) and 877 (58 percent) translated titles.
David Baddiel is apparently trying to turn the fact that no one seems to think much of his writing into a selling point, as he plans to write a memoir (part of an inexplicable multi-book deal):
The interesting thing about this pop is that the idea I have for the memoir is an autobiographical essay charting my career, as it were, in the negative.
The working title is My Life in Bad Review.
Kind of like Fever Pitch, but instead of Arsenal, itís people slagging me off.
The 'pop' occasioning Baddiel's piece in The Times is from Mark Sanderson's 'Literary Life' column (last item here) -- hardly adequate for a real literary feud, but what's Baddiel to do ?
Anyway, he claims:
I donít really intend to answer my critics.
I hope that the book will just be an unusual memoir, more about the anecdotal experience of being an object of negativity than a long sobby winge.
Well, it's not the worst idea -- and he does have a lot of material to work with.
The Rada recalled that the Belarusian Literature Fund had been founded in the 1930s, with great Belarusian authors, such as Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Maksim Tank, Vasil Bykaw and Uladzimir Karatkevich, contributing to its development.
As to it being shut:
The Supreme Court of Belarus ordered the closure of the Belarusian Literature Fund on April 4.
The justice ministry sued the non-governmental organization over its alleged failure to remedy defaults over which the ministry issued three written warnings in 2006.
The judge ruled that the decision was final, saying that the organization had repeatedly violated regulations and its charter since its registration in 1992.
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives.
A very 'hot' book, it'll be interesting to see whether the heat will simmer on; we didn't know quite what to expect and still found it surprising.
In a way it is a great summer book -- something to linger over and take one's time with.
We certainly did; it took us a while to make our way through it -- not because of the text's difficulty (it reads fairly easily and, in its parts, even pretty quickly), but it just wasn't something we could rush through.
And we still don't feel we've done it justice.
And while we're looking forward to the massive 2666, the book we're really excited about is his Nazi Literature in the Americas, which New Directions list in their new catalogue: a translation by Chris Andrews, due out in ... February, 2008.
The Warsaw Book Fair ran 17 to 21 May, and the biggest news was that the notorious David Irving tried to set up shop but was kicked out; see, for example, the Reuters report, Holocaust denier expelled from Warsaw book fair
For more interesting overview coverage see, for example, Agnieszka Bielawska's report at Polish Radio, Warsaw Book Fair.
This year's guest of honour was Ukraine.
Meanwhile, they also announced the longlist for the Nike award, the top Polish literary award.
Among the authors who have books on the list: Slawomir Mrozek, Jerzy Pilch, and Magdalena Tulli.
Yet another piece about wading through the slushpile, as Jean Hannah Edelstein moans about her experiences in The shocking truth about the slush pile.
Given that even among what's actually published much (most ?) is terrible, how can anyone be surprised that the slushpile is largely crap ?
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Christoph Hein's Frau Paula Trousseau.
It's been a while since any of Hein's novels have appeared in translation --
Willenbrock appeared in 2003, and got practically no review coverage (the only major English-language reviews we found were at World Literature Today and the TLS, and they both were of the German edition).
The rights for Landnahme also went to Metropolitan, but no one seems to be in any rush to bring that out.
In the Chicago Sun-Times Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, writes about a report recently published by ACTA in To be or not to be ? At U.S. colleges, it's increasingly 'not'
The report is worth a look -- even though it's a massive file in the dreaded pdf format.
See: The Vanishing Shakespeare.
ACTA is an organisation of which Lynne V. Cheney is 'Chairman Emeritus' -- i.e. at the very least: suspect -- but the basics are devastating enough, regardless of the agendas behind the organisation:
They looked at 70 American academic institutions, and found:
At more than three-quarters of the institutions ACTA surveyed, English majors are not required to take a course on Shakespeare.
The trend has been present for decades, but it has significantly worsened over the past ten years.
Only 15 of the 70 surveyed institutions have a Shakespeare requirement for their English majors.
Only one of the 'Ivy League' institutions ... but Cal Tech also made the list:
For starters, only one Ivy League university, Harvard, requires its English majors to take a course in Shakespeare.
Only four of the top 25 national universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report have a Shakespeare requirement: Berkeley, Cal Tech, Harvard, and Stanford. The top liberal arts colleges fare even worse, with only three -- Middlebury, Smith, and Wellesley -- requiring their English majors to study Shakespeare.
Turning to large public universities, only three from the Big Ten (Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) require Shakespeare.
Check out the various appendices of the report, including what the English requirements at these institutions are (as well as some of the 'alternative' courses on offer -- an amusing if largely irrelevant point (though exactly the sort of thing that you can expect publications like The New Criterion and the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal's editorial page to harp on) that detracts from the central one)).
Not much English-language (or French or German, etc.) coverage yet, but this story will presumably be getting more play in the days to come -- though it's unclear to us how much of a story it is.
Ian Traynor's report in The Guardian, Famed Polish writer outed as 'spy' in anti-communist purge, is devoid on any actual information, and our Polish isn't good enough to make sense of Newsweek Polska's cover-article, Teczka pisarza, but apparently noted (and recently deceased) Polish author Ryszard Kapuscinski had some sort of arrangement with the Polish authorities, providing them with information under the codename 'Vera Cruz'.
We have no idea how much of a 'spy' he was -- and, given the freedoms he was permitted, some collaboration with the communist-era regime on his part can't come as much of a surprise to anyone.
It's nice to see young talent being fostered and supported, but things seem a bit skewed when they hand out a prize to the "graduating senior who demonstrates the greatest 'ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor'"
at Washington College every year that comes with more cash than the top American literary prizes for works of fiction -- Pulitzer, NBA, NBCC, etc. -- hand out put together.
Yes, this year the payoff for the Sophie Kerr Prize was a whopping $60,027; see the AP report.
William Thompson's Sophie Kerr: A History includes a list of the winners; you be the judge of how that future fulfillment aspect has worked out.
A number of activities, such as contests, workshops and talks, will be held during the Knowledge Convention 2007, starting July 24, in an effort to support the vision for a nation that is free of religious deviationist teachings.
This should do wonders for the local literary culture .....
Familiar concerns, this time from Yemen, where in the Yemen Observer
Kawkab al-Thaibani finds that Literature goes unloved in Yemeni libraries.
But is it that bad -- or at least that different form elsewhere ?
-- when he complains:
libraries in this country have become places for the drudgery of study, where people fight their way through books rather than truly engage with them.
Still, it's nice to see them take it seriously -- and even devote an editorial to it, writing:
The dearth of a reading culture in Yemen is tragic.
At the most basic level, it is tragic because illiteracy is still so rampant in the country; half of Yemenis cannot read this editorial -- or even words on food containers in the supermarket.
But even among the literate, there is a startling lack of interest in books.