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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 August 2015

1 August: Reading in ... Russia | Another translation of The Story of The Stone | Wind/Pinball reviews
2 August: August Words without Borders | Summer issue of list | What kids should read ? | Monitoring the literary judges in China ?
3 August: Tade Ipadeola Q & A | 'Difficult Fiction'
4 August: Carol Brown Janeway | Alyson Waters Q & A | Fragments of Lichtenberg review
5 August: NEA translation fellowships | Digitizing the Iraqi national library | Vicious review
6 August: Simon Liberati's Eva | Royal Society shortlist
7 August: Publishing translations | Gang of Lovers review
8 August: New York Review Books profile | Killing Auntie review
9 August: Tim Parks Q & A | Jerry Pinto profile
10 August: Henri Duchemin and His Shadows review

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10 August 2015 - Monday

Henri Duchemin and His Shadows review

       Henri Duchemin and His Shadows review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Emmanuel Bove's Henri Duchemin and His Shadows, just (about) out from New York Review Books.

       Always nice to see some more Bove available in English -- a few titles have been translated (three more are under review at the complete review), but they're pretty hard to come by, and it's still only a fraction of his output; a revival is more than overdue .....
       In his Introduction Donald Breckenridge mentions several of Bove's not-yet-available-in-English titles -- including the: "criminally untranslated" La Coalition, which I'm pleased to find on my bookshelf, a deaccessioned New York Public Library copy, bought for fifty cents in 2003; "Ses espoirs seront vains", promises the back-cover copy, and: "les deux oisifs marcheront inéluctablement vers la misère et la mort" -- so how is it possible I haven't read this yet ?

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

9 August 2015 - Sunday

Tim Parks Q & A | Jerry Pinto profile

       Tim Parks Q & A

       In Sunday's Zaman Can Bahadır Yüce has a Q & A with the author, in which Tim Parks says importance of literature overrated.
       Some good answers, including:
What is the biggest challenge facing a young writer in the global age ? Originality ?

The greatest challenge for any young writer is finding a publisher and getting paid.
       Most of the discussion is occasioned by Parks' writing in Where I'm Reading From: The Changing World of Books -- much of which previously appeared at the NYRDaily weblog. I haven't seen the book, but I always enjoy (if rarely fully agree with ...) the posts.
       See also the publicity pages for the book at the New York Review Books and Harvill Secker, or get your copy at or

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

       Jerry Pinto profile

       Indian author Jerry Pinto's first novel, the Hindu Literary Prize-winning Em and the Big Hoom, actually got a US (paperback original) release (from Penguin, even) but seems to have sunk hereabouts without much of a trace; his Helen is also under review at the complete review. He now has a new book due out soon, Murder in Mahim -- see the Speaking Tiger publicity page -- and in The Hindu Soma Basu profiles him in the lead-up to the publication, in Jerry Pinto on the reason to write a book.

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

8 August 2015 - Saturday

New York Review Books profile | Killing Auntie review

       New York Review Books profile

       In The New York Times Larry Rohter profiles the publisher, in New York Review Books Fills a Niche by Reviving Forgotten Works.
       A nice overview of New York Review Books -- best known for its 'Classics' line, which includes a lot of reprints and is strong in both (relatively) modern US/UK classics as well as a really wide range of literature in translation.
       I like how editorial director Edwin Frank puts it:
We were picking low-hanging fruit, only no one knew the fruit was out there, hanging from the branches
       I'm a bit surprised to learn/be reminded that NYRB was only founded in 1999 (the same year the complete review started !) -- and I'm impressed to hear that, while practically all the other independent presses publishing important works and translations are non-profits, NYRB isn't, and:
Rea Hederman, the company's publisher, declined to provide figures on revenues or profits but said that "from the very beginning, NYRB had been profitable."
       More than fifty NYRB titles are under review at the complete review -- and I look forward to covering many more.

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

       Killing Auntie review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andrzej Bursa's Killing Auntie.
       This 1950s novel by the Polish writer was only published posthumously (he died very young), and CB editions brought this out in the UK a couple of years ago; now New Vessel Press has just published a US edition.

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

7 August 2015 - Friday

Publishing translations | Gang of Lovers review

       Publishing translations

       Quite a few publishers specializing in translation have launched in the US/UK in the past few years, and among the most impressive recent entries is Deep Vellum. At Publishing Perspectives publisher Will Evans describes starting-up, in Mentors, Frankfurt and Building a Translation List from Scratch -- noting for example that a selling point is:
What I can offer is a nimble agility to try new things to move books months and years after they are published.
       Given the sclerotic condition of so many old-time publishers one can see (and appreciate) the appeal.

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

       Gang of Lovers review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Massimo Carlotto's Gang of Lovers, just out from Europa Editions (and the eighth Carlotto under review at the complete review).

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

6 August 2015 - Thursday

Simon Liberati's Eva | Royal Society shortlist

       Simon Liberati's Eva

       Ah, what would the French 'rentrée littéraire' -- the fall release of a flood of French fiction -- be without a good scandal, preferably tinged with sex, lawsuits, and depictions of real people in 'fiction' ?
       No contest: this season's early frontrunner is Simon Liberati's Eva.
       Simon Liberati -- whose Anthology of Apparitions Pushkin Press brought out a few years ago -- is a French author, and his new book, Eva, is due out from Stock on 19 August; see their foreign rights page.
       Simon Liberati is married to Eva Ionesco -- no relation, apparently, to Eugene, but notoriously the daughter of photographer Irina.
       The Wikipedia entry succinctly summarizes how mom 'guided' Eva's career:
She is the youngest model ever to appear in a Playboy nude pictorial, since she was featured at age 11 in the October 1976 issue of the Italian edition [.....] Her story served as inspiration for Louis Malle's film Pretty Baby.
       The 1977 cover photograph of Eva for the mass-circulation Der Spigel is so shocking (and certainly illegal today) that they've purged it from their archives (it was the 22/1977 cover); you can find it online, if you really feel you have to, but, yeah, that was not okay, and you have to wonder about a time when it was okay to display that at your local newsstand (okay, your local German newsstand, which was admittedly never exactly up to Walmart-uptight standards).
       Mom lost custody in 1977, and Eva made a film about her childhood a couple of years ago, starring Isabelle Huppert as her mother, My Little Princess; see the IMDb page. (The Germans, always more to the point (unverblümt, shall we say ?), released the film as I'm Not a F**king Princess -- apparently asterisked, but still .....)
       Now husband Simon Liberati apparently retells the Eva-story -- and Irina is seeking an injunction. There are 69 lines she finds objectionable, an invasion of privacy. So: Le «meilleur roman» de la rentrée sera-t-il interdit ? wonders Marie-Claude Martin in Le Temps, while Raphaëlle Leyris considers Vie privée, vie publique et littérature au tribunal in Le Monde. 15,000 copies of the book have been printed (and many already distributed); any judgement in favor of Irina would mean a costly recall, pulping , and reprinting -- a "mort du livre", for all intents and purposes, as Liberati's counsel argues.
       A judgement (in the first instance) is due on Friday.
       No doubt, you'll be hearing more about this.

       (Updated - 8 August): As reported, for example, at BibliObs all of mother Ionesco's objections were rejected by the court, and the book can and will be published as is on the 19th.

       (Updated - 10 August): In The Observer Kim Willsher re-hashes the whole sordid affair, in Irina Ionesco: the grande dame, her 'Lolita' pictures, and a true Paris scandal.

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

       Royal Society shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the 2015 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
       Looks like a decent selection, but none are under review at the complete review; I really should be getting to more science titles. (The last non-literary non-fiction I covered was in ... March, more than eighty books ago, sigh.)

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

5 August 2015 - Wednesday

NEA translation fellowships | Digitizing the Iraqi national library | Vicious review

       NEA translation fellowships

       The (American) National Endowment for the Arts has announced its Fiscal Year 2016 NEA Literature Translation Fellowship Recipients (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) and there are a lot of neat projects here, including:
  • Philip Boehm for his translation of Ilija Trojanow's EisTau (see e.g. the New Books in German information page) -- working title apparently: The Lamentations of Zeno

  • Michael Leong for his translation of Vicente Huidobro's Sky-Quake

  • Michael F. Moore for a new translation of Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed

  • Kit Schluter tackling some Marcel Schwob

  • Donna Stonecipher translating some Friederike Mayröcker
       All in all, a lot of great stuff being supported here.

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

       Digitizing the Iraqi national library

       Vivian Salama's AP story -- here at the Daily Star -- is, as so much news about cultural preservation from this part of the world over the past decade-plus has been, deeply depressing, as she reports on Facing ISIS threat, Iraq digitizes national library.
       Preservation, good, yeah, but .....
       (Other recent efforts -- "Earlier archives from 1920 to 1977, including sensitive Interior Ministry documents, had been stored in rice bags and survived the blaze" -- can only be relied on so far .....)

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

       Vicious review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Xurxo Borrazás' Vicious -- somewhat surprisingly, the first translation-from-the-Galician under review at the complete review.

       This is published by Small Stations Press, which is the kind of undertaking that can make you believe that even the most far-fetched publishing across borders and languages isn't a pipe-dream: here's a publisher specializing in translations from the Galician (number of native speakers: 2.4 million, according to Wikipedia's generous estimate) based in ... Bulgaria. (Yes, they also publish in Bulgarian.)
       If that doesn't bring a smile to your face and make you believe anything is possible .....

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

4 August 2015 - Tuesday

Carol Brown Janeway | Alyson Waters Q & A
Fragments of Lichtenberg review

       Carol Brown Janeway

       Longtime Alfred A. Knopf editor and translator Carol Brown Janeway has passed away -- apparently rather suddenly; see Sonny Mehta's company-memo (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       The fact that she was the first recipient of the annual Friedrich Ulfers Prize (for the promotion of German-language literature) in 2013, and the second recipient of the Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature (2014) should give you some idea of the significance of her role in fostering foreign literature in the US.
       Among her translations are also several works by Daniel Kehlmann, Thomas Bernhard's My Prizes -- and, in a near-unforgivable misstep, Márai Sándor's Embers.

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

       Alyson Waters Q & A

       At the Asymptote blog Katrine Øgaard Jensen has a Q & A with translator Alyson Waters.

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

       Fragments of Lichtenberg review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pierre Senges' quite remarkable Fragments of Lichtenberg, due out shortly from Dalkey Archive Press (and, yes, this is a very 'Dalkey' title -- all for the best, to my mind).

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

3 August 2015 - Monday

Tade Ipadeola Q & A | 'Difficult Fiction'

       Tade Ipadeola Q & A

       In The Sun Henry Akubuiro has a Q & A with Tade Ipadeola, NNLG laureate: I have no time for literary zombies -- which is certainly a nice headline.
       Admirable that he's translated (well, hmmm ... "more of 'traduction' in the sense of what translation means in a Romance language such as French. It was a whim" ...) Auden into Yoruba -- and disappointing that they're still:
unpublished translations of Daniel Fagunwa Yoruba classical novels, into English The Divine Cryptograph [Aditu] and The Pleasant Potentate of Ibudo [Ireke Onibudo].

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

       'Difficult Fiction'

       The fine novelist Joanna Scott argues for The Virtues of Difficult Fiction in The Nation, discussing books including Naomi S. Baron's Words Onscreen -- and finding:
The surprising problem arising in our culture is that good, active, creative reading is on the decline.
       I'm not sure to what extent this isn't actually just another facet of the perennial problem/complaint, but, hey, I'm always up for some support of 'creative', careful, and engaged reading
       So I'm certainly on board with her conclusion:
Letís not stop reading the kind of books that keep teaching us to read.

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

2 August 2015 - Sunday

August Words without Borders | Summer issue of list
What kids should read ? | Monitoring the literary judges in China ?

       August Words without Borders

       The August issue of Words without Borders, Myth and History: Writing from Indonesia, is now available online; it also includes the usual reviews, as well as 'Three Tibetan Short Stories'.
       Great to see more Indonesian attention as we come up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where it will be this year's Guest of Honour.

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

       Summer issue of list

       It's well-hidden at the official site -- certainly not to be found under 'Current Issue' (that would be much too easy ...) -- but the Volume 28, Summer 2015 issue of list Books from Korea -- "a quarterly literary magazine [that] introduces Korean literature and authors to overseas reader" -- is now available online.

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

       What kids should read ?

       In the UK the 'TES and the National Association for the Teaching of English ran a survey to find teachers' top 100 fiction books all children should read' -- before leaving primary school and before leaving secondary school. (There is some overlap.)
       I am a bit shocked by how few books in translation feature, especially on the secondary school list (fewer than on the primary school list) -- all of three, as best I can tell: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (53), I am David by Anne Holm (71) (and this one is also 29 on the primary school list), and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (89). But it's a very mixed (up ?) list, in any case.

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

       Monitoring the literary judges in China ?

       In Xinhua they report that Chinese literature prize guards against corrupt judging, as
The organizers of one of China's top literary awards have set up a team to supervise the judging process and make sure it is fair and free of corruption.
       I'm very curious as to how exactly they will do their monitoring -- corruption would seem hard to detect unless it's truly blatant (like a judge handing out money during deliberations to literally buy other judges' votes). Still, I kind of like the idea of uniformed guards watching over the deliberating judges, billy clubs at the ready to thwack any argument or voicing of support they deem improper.

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

1 August 2015 - Saturday

Reading in ... Russia | Another translation of The Story of The Stone
Wind/Pinball reviews

       Reading in ... Russia

       In The Moscow Times Anastasia Bazenkova reports that Russia's Book Industry Shrinks as Russians Stop Reading.
       It's not that they've stopped reading entirely, but apparently there has been quite a decline (with the ever-popular explanations as supplied by experts, such as: "Young people see books as pure entertainment, and in that category they cannot compete with modern gadgets"). A real problem is certainly the decline in bookstores -- and, astonishing if true, Moscow apparently only has six used book stores.
       Among the consequences: "The effect of bookstore closures has been to reduce the quantity of printed words"
       And while there's no data to back up the claim, it's still an eye-catching one:
There are currently 10-12 people in the whole country that can earn their living only by writing books, and there will be even fewer of them in the future, Filimonov said

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

       Another translation of The Story of The Stone

       As longtime readers know, I hold Cao Xueqin's The Story of The Stone, in David Hawkes and John Minford's translation, to be one of the peaks of literature. Interesting to learn now that, as Tang Yue reports in China Daily, in Lost in translation for more than 40 years, that the manuscript of an unpublished translation into English by Lin Yutang has been found in Japan.
       Lin published widely in both Chinese and English, and was a widely-read popularizer of Chinese literature in English -- it would be interesting to know what kind of impact his translation of this towering work might have had.

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

       Wind/Pinball reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of Murakami Haruki's two earliest novels, now published together in one volume, in a new translation by Ted Goossen, as Wind/Pinball:        This is yet another example of US/UK publishers opting to publish multiple works by an author in one volume -- several works by Patrick Modiano, whose works tend to come in at around a hundred pages, are getting the treatment now. It's more justifiable here than in most cases (even as the title, Wind/Pinball, really isn't) but I reviewed them separately -- among other reasons: because there are already so many separate reviews of one or the other title to link to.
       However, it's been annoying to see so much coverage which has dismissed the previous translations (by Alfred Birnbaum, published by Kodansha International) as if no one had ever seen them. The Knopf jacket-copy has it about right -- "Widely available in English for the first time, newly translated" -- but much of the review coverage does not (as I have also repeatedly noted on Twitter (e.g.)).

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

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