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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2013

1 June: Commonwealth prizes | HeadRead | Turkish literature in translation | Women, translation, and WLT
2 June: Beckett's Murphy-manuscript | Intizar Husain profile | June online issues | Mother Departs review
3 June: Czech literature abroad | Her Not All Her US launch
4 June: 'China's Online Literature Behemoth' | Seoul Selection profile | Natan Book Award | Joyland review
5 June: Georg-Büchner-Preis to Sibylle Lewitscharoff | Narratives for Europe
6 June: Prizes: Orange [Baileys] Women's Prize for Fiction - F-AF Translation Prizes - Prince of Asturias Award for Literature - Etisalat Prize for Literature | Marian Schwartz Q & A | The End of Oulipo ? review
7 June: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award | Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | Translation Database 2013 | Ayako review
8 June: Scarlett Johansson confuses fact and fiction | Viewing Faulkner's Nobel medal
9 June: Yoram Kaniuk (1930-2013) | Gender in UK reviewing | Premio Ostana: scritture in lingua madri | Evil and the Mask review
10 June: Iain (M.) Banks (1954-2013) | Mohsin Hamid Q & As | The Summer of the Elder Tree review

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10 June 2013 - Monday

Iain (M.) Banks (1954-2013) | Mohsin Hamid Q & As
The Summer of the Elder Tree review

       Iain (M.) Banks (1954-2013)

       As widely reported, author Iain (M.) Banks has passed away; see, for example, the obituaries at the BBC and The Guardian, or tributes such as those in The Telegraph by Tom Chivers (Iain Banks was two of our finest writers) and Jake Kerridge (Iain Banks: an honest, funny and compassionate writer who beguiled 21st-century readers).
       The only one of his books under review at the complete review is The Business, but I've enjoyed quite a few others over the years.

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

       Mohsin Hamid Q & As

       A couple of Q & As with How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia-author Mohsin Hamid have recently appeared, including 'India is not okay, it's a great country' with Purvaja Sawant in the Times of India (where he probably does himself no favors my admitting: "I am an artiste") and One art inspiring the other (with more of a focus on the recent film-adaptation of his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist). And in The Week they reveal Mohsin Hamid's 6 favorite books (of which only Tabucchi's Pereira Maintains is under review at the complete review).

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

       The Summer of the Elder Tree review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marie Chaix's The Summer of the Elder Tree, forthcoming shortly from Dalkey Archive Press (and translated by her husband, Harry Mathews).

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

9 June 2013 - Sunday

Yoram Kaniuk (1930-2013) | Gender in UK reviewing
Premio Ostana: scritture in lingua madri | Evil and the Mask review

       Yoram Kaniuk (1930-2013)

       Yoram Kaniuk has passed away; see, for example, Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk dies of cancer aged 83 in Haaretz.
       Quite a bit of his work has been translated into English, including the intriguing The Last Jew; see the Grove Press publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Interestingly, his most recent work to be translated -- 1948 -- was published in English by New York Review Books' e-book imprint NYRB Lit and is apparently only available in that format, not in print; see their publicity page, or get your Kindle-copy at or

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

       Gender in UK reviewing

       Following the example of the VIDA count (examining the gender-make-up of reviewers, reviewed authors, etc. at various publications) The Guardian does a similar counting exercise in considering The gender balance of UK literary culture (though it should be noted that the "sample period" -- March, 2013 -- is a rather small one).
       The figures (and graphs) are quite fascinating: the sample size really does seem rather small, but still, for both the Mail on Sunday (apparently a part of 'UK literary culture' -- who knew ?) and the London Review of Books to have only had male reviewers for works of fiction is pretty stunning -- though so is the fact that 93 per cent of reviews of works of fiction in The Times were by women. (I'm also disappointed to that the New Statesman (82.6%) The Spectator (71.4%) so overwhelmingly favor covering non rather than real fiction.)
       John Dugdale gives an overview (sort of) of How we calculated the gender balance of UK literary journalism, but of particular interest is Alex Clark's long piece on Gender balancing the books. Among her observations going beyond the reviews-pages: a comparison of how well female-authored annotated texts did at the recent PEN auction, versus those by men.

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       Premio Ostana: scritture in lingua madri

       Last week they had the awards ceremony for the Premio Ostana: scritture in lingua madri (or Premi Ostana: escrituras en lenga maire, as it is in the local Occitan) -- the Ostuna Prize for writings in the mother tongue, a prize for writing in 'smaller' languages.
       There were prizes for writing from Breton, Tibetan, Kurdish, and Ladin, and one for a Catalan translator.
       I learn of this via Bruce Humes' Ethnic ChinaLit weblog, where he writes how Young Tibetan Writer Wins Special Prize in Festival Celebrating Endangered Languages.
       This sounds like a great prize, and I hope they get more recognition and attention.

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

       Evil and the Mask review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nakamura Fuminori's thriller, Evil and the Mask, coming out this week from Soho Crime.

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

8 June 2013 - Saturday

Scarlett Johansson confuses fact and fiction | Viewing Faulkner's Nobel medal

       Scarlett Johansson confuses fact and fiction

       In what can only be interpreted as a rather desperate attempt to stir up publicity, Scarlett Johansson is apparently suing French publisher JC Lattès over a novel they recently published (La première chose qu'on regarde, by Grégoire Delacourt), in which a figure resembling (and mistaken for) her figures prominently (but is eventually revealed to be someone else).
       Despite extensive French coverage of this, the (legal) details remain somewhat murky -- and English-language coverage is ... well, so far relying on hastily translated and pieced together articles, where even the headlines apparently get it wrong (Scarlett Johansson sues author for using name in novel 'tribute' says The Independent, though it does appear it is (sensibly, despite Delacourt's recent commercial success) the deeper-pocketed publisher and not the author who is being sued). It's not even clear what jurisdiction she is suing in (one demand: no translations ...); I'm not sure how French law treats this sort of thing, but from the sound of it the novel should easily pass muster in the US (with, at worst, author and publisher forced to claim it's parody or satire).
       Given that the figure we recognize as 'Scarlett Johansson' -- from film, and from media coverage -- which is the 'identity' she surely wishes to protect, is an entirely artificial construct in the first place, the idea of her suing because she is (sort of) depicted in a work of fiction seems ludicrous in any case. (Though, of course, those that 'created' this 'Scarlett Johansson' we know have a much better case: the legal hurdles to using fictional creations (like James Bond or Mickey Mouse) in unapproved works of fiction remains much higher than using 'real' people -- but it's the copyright holders, not the fictional creations (like 'Scarlett Johansson') that have the standing to seek legal redress.

       In their foreign rights catalogue (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) Lattès translate the title as: 'The First Thing That People See' and begin their description of the work:
Grégoire Delacourt is back with an ultra-modern fable as ferocious as it is brilliant about the birth of love and the truth of souls.

On September 15th 2010 Arthur Dreyfuss, wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and Smurf underpants is watching an episode of The Sopranos when his doorbell rings. It is Scarlett Johansson. He is twenty years old and works in a garage as a mechanic. She is twenty-six and needs something repaired.
       See also the (French) publicity page, or get your copy from

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

       Viewing Faulkner's Nobel medal

       On 11 June, at 10:00 and 14:00 (there are two sessions), Sotheby's (New York) is holding an auction of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana.
       Of particular interest: lot 259, which includes William Faulkner's Nobel medal, as well as the manuscript of his acceptance speech. Estimate: US$500,000-1,000,000.
       There's a lot of Fauklneriana, but also some David Foster Wallace letters, Terry Southern's marked-up Dr. Strangelove-screenplay, and even a nice-looking Babe Ruth (and others) signed commemorative envelope.

       Of course, I encourage you to bid, if you can, but for those of my readers who don't have the discretionary income for this sort of stuff but are in the New York City area, I remind you that you can view the items at Sotheby's through Monday -- worth a look.

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

7 June 2013 - Friday

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize
Translation Database 2013 | Ayako review

       International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

       They've announced that City of Bohane (by Kevin Barry) has been awarded this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (and the €100,000 that goes with it).
       It was selected from the 153 nominated titles, and a ten-title shortlist (of which five were titles in translation).
       City of Bohane is not under review at the complete review; it's just come out in paperback in the US -- get your copy at, or at

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

       Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

       They've announced the winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (though not yet at the official site, last I checked), and this prize: "for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language" went to Philip Boehm for his translation of The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller (which was also a Best Translated Book Award finalist).

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

       Translation Database 2013

       Chad Post has posted the (preliminary) 2013 'Translation Database' (of (previously untranslated) fiction and poetry in translation published in the US in 2013 -- you can download it here), and at Three Percent he offers some commentary, in Why Bury the Lede ? AmazonCrossing Publishes More Books in Translation than Anyone Else (In 2013. Probably.)
       The database is a great resource -- and Chad's observations are also of interest. The upward trend in available translations is certainly heartening, as is the fact that there are more publishers publishing works in translation. As to AmazonCrossing zooming to the head of the list (with its ... unusual selection of titles) ... I still don't know quite how to take that. (As to the big American publishers publishing so very little in translation ... I can just shake my head in disappointment.)

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

       Ayako review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tezuka Osamu comic, Ayako.

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

6 June 2013 - Thursday

Prizes: Orange [Baileys] Women's Prize for Fiction - F-AF Translation Prizes
Prince of Asturias Award for Literature - Etisalat Prize for Literature
Marian Schwartz Q & A | The End of Oulipo ? review

       Prize: Orange [Baileys] Women's Prize for Fiction

       They've announced that May We Be Forgiven (by A.M.Homes) has been awarded the 2013 Orange [Baileys] Women's Prize for Fiction.
       (And, yes, they announced their new sponsor a few days ago -- the world's first cream liqueur ! -- and, yes, at this point they might as well just re-name themselves annually; who can keep track of this nonsense (and these URLs) ?)
       May We Be Forgiven is not under review at the complete review; you can get your copy from or

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

       Prize: French-American Foundation Translation Prizes

       They announced the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes yesterday, and apparently Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard and translated by Alyson Waters took the fiction prize (and non went to The Metamorphoses of Kinship by Maurice Godelier, translated by Nora Scott).
       See also the pre-ceremony Q & A with the keynote speaker, Gregary J. Racz.

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

       Prize: Prince of Asturias Award for Literature

       Joining Annie Leibovitz (Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities), Michael Haneke (Arts), and the Higgs-boson guy (Technical and Scientific Research), they've announced that Antonio Muñoz Molina will receive this year's Prince of Asturias Award for Literature; well deserved.
       No word yet who this year's Sports-laureate will be.

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

       Prize: Etisalat Prize for Literature

       Oil-behemoth Etisalat set up the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature a few years ago, and now Etisalat (Nigeria) has apparently endowed an African first novel prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
       As reported at 360Nobs, Africans can win big as £15,000 Etisalat Prize for Literature is launched, as:
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction novels. The prize will bring together high profile writers, book critics and academics from across the continent and beyond to identify new writers of African descent. Submitted works must be the writer's first fiction novel of over 30,000 words and which has been published in the last twenty-four months.
       There's an interesting criteria regarding submissions:
Entries for the Fiction Novel category opens today the 5th of June to publishers who have published a minimum of five authors in the last three years.
       Apparently there will also be a 'Flash Fiction Short Stories' prize, though it isn't entirely clear what that will involve.

       (Updated - 7 June): The official site for the prize is now up. Disappointingly, the criteria for this 'pan-African' prize include that the: "book was first published in English". Apparently it's unthinkable that an African book might have been first published (much less written ?) in any other language since ... well, what else would Africans possibly publish and write in ?

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

       Marian Schwartz Q & A

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines they have a Q & A with translator-from-the-Russian Marian Schwartz.
       I can't wait to see how US/UK translators react to her comment:
Of course, Western translation has a long way to go before it reaches the level of translation in Russia, where the art of translation has been seriously practiced, studied, and taught for generations.

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

       The End of Oulipo ? review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of An Attempt to Exhaust a Movement by Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, The End of Oulipo ?
       Oulipo ! So, yeah, I kind of went overboard in the review .....

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

5 June 2013 - Wednesday

Georg-Büchner-Preis to Sibylle Lewitscharoff
Narratives for Europe

       Georg-Büchner-Preis to Sibylle Lewitscharoff

       The Georg-Büchner-Preis -- the leading German author (as opposed to book) prize, and worth €50,000 -- has been awarded to Sibylle Lewitscharoff; see, for example, the Deutsche Welle report, Sibylle Lewitscharoff wins 2013 Georg Büchner prize.
       Her Apostoloff is forthcoming from Seagull Books; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from or
       It was translated by love german books' Katy Derbyshire; needless to say, she's pleased.

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       Narratives for Europe

       Via I learn of the Narratives for Europe project -- and see that the book/collection Remappings: The Making of European Narratives is also available online (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).

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

4 June 2013 - Tuesday

'China's Online Literature Behemoth' | Seoul Selection profile
Natan Book Award | Joyland review

       'China's Online Literature Behemoth'

       I continue to be fascinated by the development of the online-publishing/reading model in China -- and at China Buzz Chi Yi writes about China's Online Literature Behemoth (which is apparently Shanda Literature subsidiary Qidian).
       Not surprisingly, online writing shares quite a few similarities to print publishing:
But while Qidian has produced several famous writers, the overall quality of the works on the site has been criticized. Since the system rewards writers based purely on sales, it encourages them to pander to the maximum number of people with entertaining, but formulaic storylines. For instance, a typical Qidian novel will feature uniformly gorgeous female characters that will inevitably fall for the hero, who is so powerful and talented that he defeats all his foes with ease.
       Apparently the founder of Qidian wants to set up a competing site now; I look forward to seeing more coverage about all this.

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       Seoul Selection profile

       In The Korea Herald Claire Lee profiles Hank Kim, in Korean culture advocate with big dreams:
Kim quit his reporting job at Yonhap News Agency to start a bookstore and a publishing house, Seoul Selection, in 2002, and devote himself to promoting Korean culture in the English language.

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

       Natan Book Award

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winner of the inaugural Natan Book Award, which is given to:
an exceptional, not-yet-published, non-fiction book on Jewish themes that has the potential to catalyze new conversations about Jewish life
       (See also the Haaretz report, Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit wins U.S. literary prize for book on Israel.)
       What's interesting here is how the $50,000 award is doled out:
The Award has two stages: a cash award of $15,000 to the author to be used during the writing or final editing of the book; and the unique second stage, up to $35,000 to be used to promote and distribute the book. Natan is working with the publishing house to customize a publicity, marketing, distribution, and programmatic plan for the book that will leverage Natan's networks within the Jewish community and ensure that the book reaches broad, new, and diverse audiences.
       Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau is the publisher of the winning title, so the book already has good backing, but the additional funds will no doubt prove very helpful.
       In this modern-day literary prize-culture -- where prizes take the place of reviews and other official seals of approval -- is this the next step, with not just cash for the author, but actual (and pretty significant) support for winning books, going way beyond the 'prize-winner'-stickers that can be put on book-covers ?

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

       Joyland review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Stephen King's new novel, Joyland, out today from Hard Case Crime.

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

3 June 2013 - Monday

Czech literature abroad | Her Not All Her US launch

       Czech literature abroad

       At Radio Praha David Vaughan talks to Edgar de Bruin: conquering the world with Czech literature.
       De Bruin runs the literary agency Pluh -- and, as they explain at the site:
The name Pluh is Czech for "Plough", and is pronounced like the Dutch word "Ploeg", which also means plough.
       Yes, they're based in the Netherlands, so ... but, yeah: worst explanation of anything, ever .....
       A few interesting titbits: Miloš Urban's The Seven Churches has sold over 60,000 copies in Spain and Latin America, for example (not quite so many in English, I suspect). And Patrik Ouředník's: "Europeana is the most translated book since the revolution" (even as the author remains "suspect" in the Czech Republic itself).

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

       Her Not All Her US launch

       Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek's ACFNY Translation Prize-winning work, Her Not All Her -- published in The Cahiers Series -- is being launched in the US at an event at McNally Jackson in New York on Wednesday (5 June), at 19:00, with translator Damion Searls and Katie Kitamura. (Jelinek, who doesn't travel well or far, won't be in the vicinity; on the other hand, Kitamura's husband Hari Kunzru probably will be.)

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

2 June 2013 - Sunday

Beckett's Murphy-manuscript | Intizar Husain profile
June online issues | Mother Departs review

       Beckett's Murphy-manuscript

       Writers might want to reconsider penning those first- and other drafts of their books on their computers and instead (re)turn to literally penning them: the handwritten sort may offer a better pay-off, long term (okay, maybe only the heirs get to reap the rewards, but still ...). Case in point: as, for example, reported at artdaily, Sotheby's London to offer one of the most important 20th century literary manuscripts in private hands, as the owners of the original draft of Beckett's Murphy will apparently be cashing in very nicely:
Handwritten in six exercise books between August 1935 and June 1936, in Dublin and London whilst Beckett was undergoing psychoanalysis, the manuscript, initially entitled "Sasha Murphy" is heavily revised throughout -- the hundreds of cancellations and revisions providing an eloquent witness to Beckett's struggle to give form to his artistic vision. The notebooks are also full of lively doodles hinting at the author's preoccupations during this period, including recognisable portraits of James Joyce, Beckett himself, and Charlie Chaplin (later an influence on the tramps in Waiting for Godot), as well as astrological symbols and musical notations. The centrepiece in Sotheby’s sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, the manuscript is estimated to realise £800,000 - £1.2 million.
       I hope there's a facsimile edition in the works, too.

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

       Intizar Husain profile

       In The Caravan M.Asaduddin profiles the recently Man Booker International Prize-shortlisted author of Basti, in Intizar Husain and His World.

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       June online issues

       Among the June issues of online periodicals now available is the Queer Issue IV of Words without Borders, as well as the June issue of Open Letters Monthly.

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

       Mother Departs review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tadeusz Różewicz's Mother Departs.

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

1 June 2013 - Saturday

Commonwealth prizes | HeadRead
Turkish literature in translation | Women, translation, and WLT

       Commonwealth prizes

       They've (apparently) announced the Commonwealth prizes -- the Commonwealth Book Prize (which now, so disappointingly, is simply a 'first book' prize) and Short Story Prize -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked ...... But Charlotte Williams reports at The Bookseller that O'Donnell wins Commonwealth Book Prize (and Eliza Robertson and Sharon Miller were jointly awarded the Commonwealth Short Story Prize).
       The winning (book) title is The Death of Bees; get your copy at or

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


       The Estonian literary festival HeadRead runs through tomorrow; see, for example, the brief introduction, HeadRead Literature Festival Starts in Tallinn at Estonian Public Broadcasting.
       Sounds interesting -- though perhaps some of the offerings could have been ... expressed better ? Hours with Estonian prose authors may not be the best way to sell that, for example.

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

       Turkish literature in translation

       In Al-Ahram Weekly David Tresilian reports that 'Turkey was the market focus at last week’s London Book Fair, marking growing Western interest in the literature of this Middle Eastern country', in Turkey triumphant.
       Turkey also has a presence at BookExpo America -- sizeable, but I'm not sure it really ... spoke to the audience.
       See also the Index of Turkish Literature under Review at the complete review.

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

       Women, translation, and WLT

       I discussed Alison Anderson's Words without Borders Dispatches weblog post Where Are the Women in Translation ? a couple of weeks ago, and it's good to see the question is still getting some attention: now Daniel Simon has a look at Women Writing, Editing, and Translating at World Literature Today (and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, etc.).

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

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