The book review will be a pull-out section that will be inserted in one of the newly created sections for The Weekend Journal that will launch later this month.
It is unclear how many pages will be dedicated to the new book review, but one source said it will be "significant," though it's uncertain if that means it will surpass The Times' usual 20-plus pages for its weekly Sunday Book Review, or if it will be in the same ballpark.
Robert Messenger is to head it.
Since the Wall Street Journal already offers surprisingly solid book coverage, the WSJBR sounds pretty promising.
Who knows, maybe they'll even review some fiction in translation .....
The September issue of NZZ Folio has an awesome collection of stories looking to the future -- but all in German: Die Welt von morgen.
Author whose stories you can read include local favorites: Tawada Yoko, Wilhelm Genazino, Arnon Grunberg, Leon de Winter, and Lars Gustafsson.
The two volumes of Myanmar short stories: Stories from Her Heart (2009) by Khin Hnin Yu and Selected Myanmar Short Stories (2009), translated by Ma Thanegi are a mere taste of what is available.
But for those of us who cannot read Myanmar with facility they are essential entrees into this vast literature.
I'm curious about the Jacobson -- coming to the US soon -- and the Galgut -- coming to the US, not quite so soon (unless it takes the prize, in which case I suspect they'll push up the publication date)
William Hill already have odds on the shortlist -- though, as Alison Flood points out in The Guardian, Booker prize shortlist drops early frontrunners, as longlisted favorites Christos Tsiolkas and David Mitchell didn't make the cut.
The biggest French prizes, the Goncourt and Renaudot, go through four rounds each, and they've announced the first of their longlists.
The première sélection pour le prix Goncourt 2010
consists of 14 titles, and includes Michel Houellebecq's by now super-controversial La carte et le territoire as well as the new Amélie Nothomb.
Other authors familiar to English-speaking readers to make the cut include Chantal Thomas, Virginie Despentes, Vassilis Alexakis, and Zone-man Mathias Enard.
For the Renaudot check out the always useful Prix-Litteraires: Le blog-site -- with Houellebecq, Despentes, and Alexakis, among others, also making the cut here.
Yesterday NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman Announces $300,000 for 20 Literature Translation Fellowships; see this page for full descriptions of the projects; this year they involve: "works in 13 different languages from 17 countries".
Among the projects that sound most interesting: Robert Bononno is re-translating Eugène Sue's tremendously influential classic, The Mysteries of Paris, (which really is quite good fun) while John Galbraith Simmons is translating the Marquis de Sade's Aline and Valcour (see, for example, this
introduction to the text at The Brooklyn Rail).
Of course, one has to wonder how many of these will wind up getting published.
(NEA-supported translations generally do get published, but .....)
Also worth noting: Anna Clark's observation at her Isak:
I am down, however, about a ratio that finds only three of the twenty funded projects will be translations of literature written by female authors.
That's about fifteen percent.
(One of the twenty is an anthology of Korean stories and presumably won't have all male authors ... will it ?)
Lest this be an egregious fluke, I looked back at the last round of NEA translation fellowships.
The gender ratio of the translated fiction and poetry ?
3:13. The year before that ? 1:12.
Bookslut has put out its 100th issue, which includes the usual reviews, interviews, and columns, as well as a ("mostly incredulous") correspondence between editor Michael Schaub and founder Jessa Crispin (and I'm totally jealous learning that they had enemies to deal with (or/and had 'godfather' Dennis Loy Johnson deal with them)).
(Disappointingly, however, the firstfew issues don't seem to be readily accessible at this time.)
As one of the few sites that's been around nearly as long as the complete review (the review-section is a few years younger that the complete review, the weblog a few months older than the Literary Saloon), offering similar content (a blog and reviews -- though Bookslut goes in a lot more for author-interview and profiles) I'm pleased to see they've enjoyed such long-lasting success.
I always liked it, too, because despite the similarities in what is nominally on offer -- a literary blog, reviews -- there's been so little overlap in what we cover: other than our veneration of Alasdair Gray, and great admiration for a few other authors (such as Dubravka Ugrešić) we seem to cover little of the same territory -- meaning Bookslut is always a place for me to find coverage of titles and authors I can't/am unlikely to get to.
Looking forward to a hundred more !
As the writer Dmitry Bykov said, we should make an effort towards a dramatic entrance into the English-language book world.
Dmitry Bykov believes that modern Russian literature is capable of attracting the attention of this world:
"Today's world has a marketing approach to literature.
If something is a success, innumerable clones spring up.
In this respect, Russia is a country where marketing strategies do not work, so Russia can be described as a provider of fresh, uncloned and unpredictable stock.
Modern Russian literature is honest, it is a literature of protest, and there has always been a market for that in the West."
Well, it's one approach to take (and one delusion to embrace ...).
The problem is not that British readers only want to know about the situation in Chechnya or the life of oligarchs.
They do not know much about Russia and their source of information is mostly newspapers.
The problem is there is no information about books and the promotion methods are ineffective.
Yeah, what the books actually are, or whether they're any good, that's completely secondary .....
Bykov's Living Souls was recently published (in truncated but still lengthy translation) by Alma Books in the UK; see their publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk.
(I actually have an (e-)version of this title, and do hope to get to it.)
In The Bangkok Post Vasana Chinvarakorn profiles and interviews Thai writer Manote Phromsing, in The literary gardener -- and they publish a translation of his story, The Flower Jail, by the ubiquitous Marcel Barang (does anyone else translate from the Thai ?).
The Oscar winner appears to be having intimations of mortality.
"I have a spasm of envy for the person that was killed by a falling bookcase, as long as it doesn't happen prematurely," the president of the London Library says in the October edition of Tatler magazine.
In China Daily Liu Wei surveys the online-writing and publishing scene in China, in Between the lines -- noting that:
However, disputes over whether works published online have any literary merit at all continue.
Most criticisms are centered on the view that to grab eyeballs in the shortest possible time, online books focus on content more than technique and are rough works.
And, not surprisingly:
The biggest headache for JAS and her fellow writers is actually not the evaluation of their works, but how to protect them from illegal use.
It is common for a novel to be copied and pasted on free websites 30 minutes after it appears on the Net.
Some websites hire writers to create sequels and prequels of popular books to attract readers.
Many writers even find their stories "published" as shabby pirated books sold by street vendors.
Well, actually, that speed is kind of surprising (and kind of impressive).
Malayalam-writing Sarah Joseph's Othappu recently won the Crossword Award for translation, and in The Hindu's Literary Review G.S.Jayasree offers an appreciation, Crossing the threshold.
See also the Oxford University Press publicity page for Othappu, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Increasingly, the run-up to any books prize announcement from the Man Booker to the Orange and the Royal Society Prize for Science Books is dominated not only by literary commentary and sales figures but news stories based on bookmakers offering odds on the likely winner.
Still, £500,000 is not a whole lot of action; don't look for Las Vegas to be adding ... book-bets to their books.
Not too sure how I feel about this either:
It is a growing genre (Robertson claims betting on the Man Booker winner was up £5,000 in 2009 compared to 2008), with more and more prize organisers approaching the bookies themselves for predictions.
"People expect it," Sharpe says.
The organizers are approaching the bookies for ... 'predictions' ?
But it does help drum up interest in these prizes.
At her love german books weblog Katy Derbyshire offers her "now traditional lowdown on the German Book Prize longlist", a useful overview of the twenty titles, complete with the "Teenage Girl Factor" of each title, as well as whether or not (usually whether) there is a "Foreign/Village Setting".
At Slate's DoubleX they check out: 'Is the New York Times' book section really a boys' club ?' (meaning, actually , the two editorially separate sections: the daily edition, as well as the Sam Tanehaus-(foreign-fiction-avoiding)-led The New York Times Book Review), in Fact-Checking the Franzenfreude
First off they address how this latest instalment of a longstanding complaint came about -- blame falling squarely on Jonathan Franzen's Freedom (or rather: coverage thereof):
Then fellow best-seller Jennifer Weiner revved up her Twitter account, too, and posted about the breathless critical love of Franzen, whose book was still not out yet.
She invented the Twitter hashtag #franzenfreude, which she describes thusly: "Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in the pain in others.
Franzenfreude is taking pain in the multiple and copious reviews being showered on Jonathan Franzen."
So you can guess why I haven't mentioned 'Franzenfreude' to date, or employed the hashtag ... and if you can't, it's because I can barely bring myself to type the word, or hold back from saying very unkind things about Ms. Weiner: the freude part of 'Schadenfreude' that she keeps for her coinage is, of course, the wrong half: it's the taking-joy-in part.
'Franzenfreude', if it meant anything -- and, please, don't let it -- could only mean a taking pleasure in matters Franzenian.
(Franzen, who speaks German well, must, I imagine, be similarly irritated by this.)
On the other hand, the Slate piece actually offers hard numbers (even a Google doc spreadsheet !) -- always welcome.
Though even the numbers they find come with a caveat:
Men are reviewed in the Times far more often than women.
One crucial bit of information missing, of course, is the percentage of all published adult fiction that has been written by men vs. women.
As for the double reviews, men seem to get them twice as often as women.
Of course, as far as the sexist reviewing goes I'm not one to talk: the complete review has been irremediably and horrifyingly sexist in its coverage over the years; see the terrible statistics at the overview, How Sexist are We ?
Last week the German Haus der Kulturen der Welt ('House of the Cultures of the World') announced the seven finalists for the International Literature Award, for a first German translation of a work of international prose literature.
133 books from more than fifty countries, originally written in 25 different languages were submitted -- making it all the more shameful that all seven shortlisted titles were translated from either French or English.
Most shameful: the one title under review at the complete review, Shahriar Mandanipur's Censoring an Iranian Love Story, originally written (but not yet published) in Farsi is also under consideration as a translation from the English.
Aside from attracting more overseas publishers and companies as well as having more book titles on display, this year's event is specially designed to better introduce Chinese literature, writers and digital publishing to the outside world as part of the country's cultural "go out" strategy.
A couple of pieces looking at the state of reviewing and criticism are out today: in The Australian Georgie Williamson says: Bugger the bloggers: old-world critics still count -- though regrettably he doesn't say all that much about the online scene -- beyond the likes of:
For every brilliant new blogger that has emerged, 100 pallid yes-men (and women) have sprung up.
And while these bloggers often define themselves against in-house elitists who impose their tastes from above, they have a tendency to move in digital packs, to think as hive minds.
Whether print or online, traditional or consumer, a review is now as likely to treat an obscure sf gem or specialized political treatise as the latest literary masterpiece, reflecting a broadened book market following readers' interests.
But while the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Time Book Review, and the Washington Post Book World once pushed sales, now it's as likely to be Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and People.
"That's the New Reviewing Trifecta," says EarlyWord's Nora Rawlinson, who also cites the book power of NPR.
"They deal more with books that will appeal to general readers and seem to have an interest in making books happen."
The new reviewing trifecta ?
An interest in 'making books happen' ?
Dear god .....
In The Jewish Week Eric Herschthal wonders:
Can Howard Jacobson Play In America ? -- a question that seems to pop up every time he has a new book out (with the answer inevitably a resounding: no).
The book this time around is the Man Booker-longlisted The Finkler Question -- see the Bloomsbury publicity page or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk --, and given that when Bloomsbury USA tweeted that they would be bringing out the US edition they misspelled the author's name ... well, you can guess how this is going to work out.
In the piece Jacobson offers his own theory about his lack of success:
Americans feel that if he's the 'British Philip Roth,' then, well, we've already got one.
There are quite a few Jacobson titles under review at the complete review -- see, for example, Peeping Tom -- but, while he is very good, I have to admit I find his work quite wearing over the long term.
Union of Writers of the Philippines conferred the Francisco Balagtas awards on five Filipino writers in different languages forming the main body of Filipino literature, including in English.
The awards underscored the failure of Filipino to foster national unity.
In the discussion about traditional (established house) publishing versus forms of self-publishing -- see my most recent mention -- there's generally much talk about the editorial services provided by traditional publishers; I have long argued that they fall short even in this area (with many, many exceptions, but nevertheless ...), and now at The Bookseller they note Armitstead criticises editors, as:
Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead has criticised the editing of titles submitted for the newspaper's £10,000 First Book Prize, which released its longlist on Friday (27th August).
Chair of judges, Armitstead praised the list but Tweeted: "I've discovered some wonderful books -- more than could fit on first book longlist -- but am frustrated by the standard of editing."
James Naughtie, the chair of 2009 judging panel for the Man Booker Prize, last year slammed the "sloppy editing" of some entries.
Given that the books submitted for these prizes are the cream of the crop, the showpieces that publishers are most proud of ... well, that's not very impressive is it ?
Traditional publishers have a few advantages over self-publishing: marketing and distribution clout is far and away the biggest advantage they have (but one they rely on far too much), the others being their reputations (which they aren't doing much to maintain), and their editorial input, where they are clearly falling short as well.
I don't know how long they have to get their act together before the whole house of cards collapses, but they really should be trying harder .....
The SWR-Bestenliste -- the German critics' favorites selection, polling 30 critics -- for September is out.
Martin Mosebach's Was davor geschah is tied for first -- does that make it a favorite for the German Book Prize ?
Surprisingly, two titles reviewed at the complete review make the list: Jacques Chessex's A Jew must Die (at number four) and Christa Wolf's Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud (at number five).