Translation, she remarked, could make a novel available, but the real exoticism of the truly foreign text remained a barrier to most readers.
And Milan-based literary agent Marco Vigevani noted:
the situation of Arab language writers such as the Lebanese Hassan Daoud and the Egyptian Makkawi Said who work in traditional genres that mix poetry and prose that have no Western corollary.
Prominent in the Arab world, these writers get almost no attention in the West because nobody has any idea how to read them even when they are translated.
Parks' own perspective -- wondering, to put it a bit simply, about the emphasis on transcending borders (national, linguistic) as opposed to just being satisfied with engaging on a local level -- also deserves more attention.
In The New York Times Book Review this weekend they have Orhan Pamuk: By the Book.
He plays it a bit safe (why does no one ever blurt out the titles of those terrible books they've read ?) but a few answers are of interest.
Good to see he's reading Dick Davis' translation of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
And interesting to note that he'd take three encyclopaediae to the hypothetical desert island.
Yesterday was the highpoint of the French literary award season, as there was a one-two punch of prize-announcements with the biggest of them all, the prix Goncourt and the Renaudot, revealed.
The Goncourt went to Le sermon sur la chute de Rome, by Jérôme Ferrari; see, for example, the Actes Sud publicity page.
In some pretty good timing: MacLehose Press has just brought out his Where I Left My Soul (in the UK); see their publicity page.
More interesting was the way the Renaudot played out -- showing there are still ways to make these literary prizes more ... bizarre exciting ?
Notre-Dame du Nil by Scholastique Mukasonga took the prize -- which came as somewhat of a surprise, since it wasn't one of the books on the final shortlist for the prize.
Indeed, it took six out of ten votes in a final vote that apparently also included discussion of other books by not-shortlisted authors such as Vassilis Alexakis and Philippe Djian; see, for example, the report in Le Point.
I always complain about prizes that don't reveal what books are in the running, but this really takes it to new extremes.
On the other hand, I haven't come across a better prize-winning-author-name than 'Scholastique Mukasonga' in ages .....
As reported at Junbungaku, ジェントルマン ('Gentleman') by Yamada Amy (山田詠美) has been awarded this year's Noma Award, one of the bigger Japanese literary prizes.
Will E notes that she is: "A big name in Japan but relatively under-translated in America" -- and, I would add, not helped by the editorial-interference-in-translation that mars Trash (pieced together from a variety of her work).
Big French literary prize number two was announced yesterday (though of course all attention will be on the Goncourt today ...): the not-quite-so-storied prix Médicis -- which also suffers slightly from being a tripartite set of awards: domestic, foreign, and essai (non-fiction, more or less); see, for example, the (French) report by Siegfried Forster at RFI.
- The French prize went to Féerie générale, by Emmanuelle Pireyre.
- And the essai prize went to Congo, by David van Reybrouck; see also the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page -- this one should be coming out in a year or two in English, too, and I'm very much looking forward to it.
Yet another article about spreading Chinese literature abroad: Lu Qianwen writes about Conveying a culture in the Global Times.
All the usual stuff, but worth a mention for the mention of a: 'Research Center of Chinese Literature Overseas Dissemination' (at Beijing Normal University).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rachida Madani's Tales of a Severed Head, another volume in the wonderful Margellos World Republic of Letters-series from Yale University Press.
Reaching the World -- "Bangkok's first international writers' showcase" -- runs through 9 November.
It begins with a two-day summit that explores 'the value of literary prizes, and the need for quality literary translations to take writers to the global market'.
The panel on 'Taking Writers Global through Translation' -- exploring: "ways to improve literary translations of books from South East Asia" -- sounds promising, and with Daniel Hahn leading the discussion I hope we'll soon find reports about the conclusions and ideas that emerge.
(As I have often noted, this is an area of the world that, beside Central Asia, has been most overlooked as far as translation-into-English goes.)
You can also listen to Bill Bainbridge's conversation with Adam Aitken about the festival at Radio Australia.
The Prix Femina is almost as old as the biggest of the French literary prizes, the Goncourt -- it was first awarded in 1904, just a year after the first Goncourt -- and it's the first of the big awards to be announced (with the rest to follow shortly).
Peste & Choléra by Patrick Deville took the (domestic) prize (see also the Seuil publicity page), while The Buddha in the Attic (well, Certaines n'avaient jamais vu la mer) by Julie Otsuka won the foreign category.
See, for example, the France 24 report, US writer Julie Otsuka wins Femina foreign novel prize.
This prize has a pretty good track record of having the prize-winning titles get translated into English -- and quite a few of them are under review at the complete review.
See, for example, just the ones awarded since 2000:
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rosa Montero's Tears in Rain.
This is an AmazonCrossing book and, as Chad Post recently noted in tallying up the number of translations published by various US publishers in 2012, with 25 AmazonCrossing is only behind Dalkey Archive Press .....
It's an ... interesting selection of titles they've got -- heavy on popular German and ... Icelandic (really) fiction, for example -- but they're definitely filling a useful void (most of the small independents tend to focus on the more ... quirky/intellectual/'literary' stuff), and I'm glad to see it.
Not an author you'll find books by under review hereabouts, but one of hers was the inspiration behind the 1955 film, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, and she achieved a certain popularity -- though, honestly, I wouldn't have guessed she was still alive: anyway, she isn't any longer: Han Suyin has passed away.
See, for example, Alison Lake's obituary in The Washington Post.
After a six-month delay -- during which there was a re-evaluation of the awards themselves, and a change in administration -- they've announced the shortlists for the many NSW Premier's Literary Awards (not, however for the NSW Premier's Translation Prize: that's only a biennial affair, and it's an off year this time around).
Nothing at the official site, last I checked, but in the Sydney Morning Herald Susan Wyndham reports that Premier's awards line up the big hitters, and lists them all.
In Russia Beyond the Headlines Phoebe Taplin reports that: 'Female authors regularly outsell their male colleagues, and are gaining increasing international recognition', in Women conquer Russia's literary Olympus.
Three of the six finalists for the Russian Booker are women, and quite a few seem to have established themselves, locally and internationally.
Even Bhutan has already held a literary festival, and now, in another sign of Burma opening up, they've announced: "the first ever English language literary festival in Burma / Myanmar", the Irrawaddy Literary Festival, to be held 1 to 3 February 2013 in Rangoon.
It's nice that they'll have: "some of the best local authors (writing in English) as well as a rich mixture of writers and artists from elsewhere", but I hope they have some local-language talent as well .....
See also the report in Mizzima, Suu Kyi to lead Burmese literary festival.
For all the year-end 'best of the year' and year-beginning 'books to look forward to' lists the one I find by far the most useful is the Translation Database at Three Percent, listing (pretty much) all the works of fiction translated into English (for the first time) published in the US every year -- and now, as Chad Post reports, 2012 Translation Database is FINALLY Online -- hallelujah ! hallelujah !
You can download it here -- and who wouldn't want their own copy ?
In his post, Chad also goes over some of the numbers -- noting that, as far as fiction goes, there were: "342 translated titles published in 2012, compared to 303 in 2011", a very nice increase (even if the total is still absurdly small).
Always interesting to see what languages works are translated from -- and particularly noteworthy (as Chad also notes) is the Japanese collapse, from 23 to 13 titles, 2011 to 2012.
I am a bit surprised that Chinese lingers at a mere 11 titles (one less than in 2011) -- but have noticed the Portuguese increase (up to an impressive 15, making it the 8th most-translated-from language).
Most notable increases: German (50, up from 39) and Arabic (25, up from 15)
Interesting also that the top ten publishers seem to have consolidated their market share, accounting for 139 titles in 2012, versus only 107 in 2011, with Dalkey and AmazonCrossing easily leading the way.
(As far as books-read goes, I'm in the mid-70s; still a long way to go .....)
As, for example, Nehru Odeh reports in PM News, the Nigeria Prize for Literature has gone to Chika Unigwe's novel -- published in the UK as On Black Sisters' Street and in the US apostrophe-less as On Black Sisters Street.
(Seriously, publishers ?)
A couple of noteworthy points about this book -- first and foremost that it was originally published in Dutch, way back in 2007, as Fata Morgana (see, for example, the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page).
Also kind of neat: even though published in the US by Random House, paperback rights went to Ohio University Press -- see their publicity page -- and this prize should now ensure that this is a reliably steady seller.
(It's somewhat disappointing, however, that Random House didn't think it worth hanging onto; in the UK it's out from Vintage (see their publicity page).)
Get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Interesting also that the chairman of the panel of judges Ayo Banjo saw fit to point out that:
Some of the entries would have stood a better chance of winning this prize but were marred by problems attendant upon poor publishing.
How does a population of less than 6 million with four languages -- English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil -- build a literary culture ? And how can writers, publishers and booksellers thrive under a regime known for its limited freedom of speech and its tough penalties on offenders ?
(She gets a few answers, and a general impression.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean-Pierre Martinet's The High Life -- a nice little pocket-sized booklet with which Wakefield Press introduces the author to the English-speaking world.
So they've made a movie out of the mega-bestselling German novel, Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann, which came out in Germany last week.
It's in 3D, for some reason, and looks ... lush (see the official trailer); reviews have been mixed; no word on a US release (much less release date ...).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jonas Jonasson's The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of his Window and Disappeared.
I usually find fiction that uses real people and historical events at least intriguing -- see the Real People in Works of Fiction-under-review index -- but this is one of the most feeble efforts in that regard I've come across in a while.
I was a bit surprised that this bestselling novel took so long to find US and UK publishers -- and especially that Hesperus was able to land rights in the UK (see Dalya Alberge's piece in The Guardian, Swedish bestseller has the last laugh), but the fact that they didn't go for it actually speaks for the majors (well ... in the US it did land at HarperCollins imprint Hyperion -- albeit only as a paperback original).