Iranian author Amir Hassan Cheheltan offers an overview of current domestic conditions, writing about The perils of writing at Qantara.de.
Interesting to see the interest in being Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair -- and much as I'd love to see it, it won't happen, certainly not in 2018 (Georgia already has that spot locked up) and not until Iran joins (and implements) the international copyright conventions.
One of Cheheltan's not-available-in-English books is under review at the complete review, while Oneworld brought out another, Revolution Street, last year; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Die Zeit has a monthly 'KrimiZEIT'-column of the best new 'Krimis' (mysteries/thrillers), and now Tobias Gohlis has the year-end summing up, Die besten Krimis des Jahres 2015.
A fairly international selection, topped by German author Merle Kröger's Havarie.
(What works by Kröger are available in English, you ask ? Just Cut ! it seems -- published by ... Indian house Katha (the subtitle -- A Crime Novel about A Young Woman Caught in a Dark Chapter of Indo-German History -- likely the explanation behind that ...); see the Katha announcement page, or get your copy at Amazon.com).
Another interesting title is Jeong Yu-jeong's 7년의 밤 -- a rare Korean mystery/thriller in translation.
Given the relative flood of recent Korean fiction into English, I'm surprised we haven't seen this one tackled yet; as often noted, mystery/thriller fiction tends to be a helpful way to get more fiction from a country/language translated, so you'd think there'd be an extra push to get a popular title like this Englished.
Is it the page-count (500+ pages) that scares publishers off ?
See also the Barbara J Zitwer Agency information page (scroll down), the LIST information page, or the (German) Unionsverlag publicity page.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Norbert Jacques' 1921 novel, Dr. Mabuse, famous as the basis for the film (and then film-series) by Fritz Lang.
It's an odd one -- but at least the ancient English translation is apparently now out in an affordable edition (the original 1923 edition is a high-priced relative rarity), making it a bit more accessible again (though my review is based on the original German text).
And, as best I can tell, Jacques is the first Luxembourger author under review at the complete review -- even if not entirely convincingly so (he studied, lived, and died in Germany; he wrote in German); I guess a Dr. Mabuse in Lëtzebuergesch was just too much to hope for .....
El País do their Los libros del año feature up in comprehensive style.
First, and centrally, there's the list of: Los 10 mejores libros de 2015 (which is actually their top-20 list) -- and the book of the year is ... Los diarios de Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia; see also the (Spanish) publicity page, or the Schavelzon Graham agency (English) information page.
(Quite a few Piglia-works have been translated, but most not so recently -- but Deep Vellum has taken up the cause, recently releasing Target in the Night; see their publicity page (hey ! they finally have pages dedicated to each book at their site !) or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
After three Spanish language titles, Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich comes in with the number four title, while Houellebecq's Submission rounds out the top five.
An Inger Christensen at number six is a nice surprise, while Elena Ferrante (just) doesn't crack the top ten.
Interesting too the individual judges' top five (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), showing who supported what.
The Guardian has their always interesting annual look at 'Which books did well, which were left on the shelves, and which made editors green with envy' in The publishers' year: winners and losers.
Noteworthy that two of the titles mentioned as ones 'that deserved to do better' (a polite way of saying ... well, you know) are much-publicized translations, Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation and Han Kang's The Vegetarian -- suggesting yet again that, despite all the talk and excitement (in certain (very limited ?) circles (including pretty much all of mine ...)) about fiction in translation, it remains a very hard sell to the broader public.
(The Vegetarian is only coming out in the US in February, and it'll be interesting to se it fares here; I have a(n e-)copy and should be getting to it soon; meanwhile, pre-order it at Amazon.com, or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.)
The Sahitya Akademi Awards are among the most prestigious Indian literary awards -- the Sahitya Akademi being India's national academy of letters -- even if most of the news in recent months has been about writers returning their awards in protest (see, for example, Ashok Vajpeyi's explanation, Why we returned Sahitya Akademi awards).
They've now announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the 2015 awards, for works in 23 Indian languages.
Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry took the English-language prize; see also the Aleph Book Company publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Germans aren't as enthusiastic about best-of-the-year lists as their US/UK media counterparts, but at least Die Welt offers Die 50 besten Bücher 2015.
All mixed together -- an Asterix-comics-volume makes the cut, alongside a collection of Weimar-era book covers, alongside a lot of fiction (a lot of American fiction, no less) -- there are also some notable omissions, most obviously this year's German Book Prize winner, Frank Witzel's Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969 (though it almost looks like they just stopped considering any titles on this alphabetical-by-author list after the 'S's (having reached fifty titles by that point)).
Always interesting to see what gets translated elswhere, and the latest round of grants (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) by the Deutscher Übersetzerfonds, listing what translations are getting support, provides some insight with 26 work-specific grants.
A lot of English-language stuff -- from a new translation of two by H.G.Wells (The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds) to Zia Haider Rahman's In the Light Of What We Know and a collection of Laurence Sterne's letters and a Lemony Snicket-book (yes, apparently even that needs/gets translation-subsidy support ...).
The Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation admirably: "celebrates the art of literary translation and aims to encourage a new generation of literary translators" -- including by having cateories for younger translators (under-15s, and under-19s).
This year's open (i.e. the main) prize was won by Allen Prowle -- who had already won the prize once before, in 2007 -- but now he's withdrawn his poems (and given back the prize money) and officially there is no winner.
The official site doesn't have more to say on the matter, but apparently Prowle's translations were not quite as original as one would have hoped; see, for example, Stephen Spender winner withdraws entry, returns prize money by Benedicte Page in The Bookseller and Poet returns Stephen Spender prize after accusations of plagiarism by Alison Flood at The Guardian.
Translation-plagiarism ! Very disappointing.
The French have their annual August 'rentrée littéraire', when most of the most significant fiction of the year is published, but the winter-version has been gaining ground in recent years, and this year's 'rentrée littéraire d'hiver' promises 476 novels.
As Livres Hebdoreports, that's actually the fewest in quite a while -- and way down from last year's 549 titles; still, a couple of big names and interesting-sounding titles -- including Jean Echenoz's Envoyée spéciale; see the Éditions de Minuit publicity page.
There will be more articles about what US/UK readers can look forward to in 2016 in the coming weeks, but there are already some selective lists which highlight some of the most promising literary stuff:
- At his Conversational Reading Scott Esposito has started his Interesting New Books - 2016 -- with the reminder: "Remember to check back often. This list grows with time."
There are already a lot of titles on here, and certainly a lot to look forward to.
(And, hey, 19 April looks like a day to really stock up: the new Knausgaard, a Ferrante non-fiction collection, Walter Benjamin fiction, some Juan Villoro -- and what I like to think of as a real handy guidebook (everyone should have a copy !).....)
As a big Peter Weiss fan I'm obviously interested in a prize in honor of the great writer, and they've now announced the winner of this year's prize -- Ulrich Peltzer.
The biennial €15,000 award doesn't necessarily go to a writer -- film-makers and other artists have also been honored -- but Peltzer follows authors such as Elfriede Jelinek (recognized already in 1994), Christoph Hein, and Ingo Schulze.
One of Peltzer's novels has been translated into English -- by Seagull, of course: Part of the Solution; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Krasznahorkai László's Reportage from China, Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens -- one of those (early) 2016 books to look forward to (yes, Scott Esposito has it on his list), from (who else ?) Seagull Books.
World Literature Today offers their annual list of 75 Notable Translations for 2015.
They note that it's: "an admittedly incomplete collection of the year's English translations" but I can't help but note that it has a more slapdash/kitchen sink quality than usual.
There are lots of worthy titles -- and a few clunkers -- but also really rather many notable omissions, including:
This year's The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2015 stunningly has three translated titles on it -- and none of them make the WLT list, not The Door, by Szabó Magda, not One of Us, by Åsne Seierstad, not even that Elena Ferrante book a couple of people have taken notice of .....
The year after he wins the Nobel Prize, not a single Modiano translation -- and there have been several, and several very good ones -- makes the cut ?
The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector was one of the most widely-hailed translations of the year and doesn't get a mention
Some big missing French names -- Houellebecq's Submission, Despentes' Apocalypse Baby.
You can debate the quality, but they were surely notable .....
Nobel Prizes don't count for notability either, apparently; Pamuk's new novel did make the cut, but along with Modiano new books by Oe (the very good Death by Water), Vargas Llosa (the not quite so good The Discreet Hero, as well as Notes on the Death of Culture), and Elfriede Jelinek (the stunning drama-twofer, Rechnitz/The Merchant's Contract; see the Seagull Books publicity page (and I should be getting a review of these up at some point ...)) are not mentioned
Noteworthy also that two of the top four publishers of translations (volume-wise) in 2015 don't place a single title in the 75 -- AmazonCrossing (hey, Bae Suah !) and Seagull
Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters-series also get short shrift: yes, Liliana Heker slips in, but aside from their several Modianos that fall short other missing notable titles range from Máirtín Ó Cadhain's The Dirty Dust to Karl Kraus' The Last Days of Mankind (see their publicity page) -- surely notable, at the very least
Several of Daoud's works have been translated into English, notably The Year of the Revolutionary New Bread-making Machine (which I have, and keep meaning to post a review of); see the Telegram publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
City Lights brought out his The Penguin's Song last year, which I didn't quite take to; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
At Bomb Jesse Ruddock has a Q & A with Eka Kurniawan (whose Beauty is a Wound and Man Tiger recently appeared in English)
Interesting to see how fully he embraces the Indonesian language:
Indonesian is the greatest discovery for this nation, particularly for me.
It was a minority language, but has turned into a tool to unify diverse languages and groups.
We are now able to let go of our self-worshipping clans and adopt this.
I have faith in the Indonesian language, politically and aesthetically.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ogawa Yoko's 1991 novel, 余白の愛 -- still not available in English.
Ogawa is actually reasonably well translated into English, with four titles -- but given her output, that's still a shockingly small amount, with both the French and Germans doing better by her.
Given that her books seem to have been well-received in English, I'm surprised there hasn't been a greater effort made by publishers to catch up with her backlist.
Maybe someday .....
Last week, as I mentioned, they awarded the 'Russian Boker' prize, and now they've also named the winner of another major Russian novel prize, the 'Big Book' award; see also, for example, Alexandra Guzeva's Russia Beyond the Headlines report, 3 major Russian books of 2015.
Guzel Yakhina's debut novel, Зулейха открывает глаза ('Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes'), won -- beating out a 2000-page novel.
See also the Elkost agency information page -- and note that aside from foreign rights already having been sold in the usual places (France, Germany) and not having sold in the usual places (US/UK) the Tatar language rights have already been sold.
Yes, this will be appearing in Tatar, apparently before -- perhaps long before ... -- it appears in English.
At the British Council Emma Shercliff writes about The changing face of Nigerian literature -- especially domestically, which isn't quite the same as what's seen/read abroad.
And while perhaps understandable -- it's written for the British Council -- it is a bit disappointing that the focus is entirely on English-language writing (because, you know, that's really not all there is in Nigeria ...).
They've announced the PEN Translation Prize longlist -- for: "a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2015".
Several of the titles are under review at the complete review -- and the ones that aren't inculde some impressive big names too (the Lispector collection, a Modiano ... even a Dostoevsky re-translation):
He won the Japan Record Award in 1963 for penning the lyrics to the children's song "Omocha no Cha Cha Cha" ("Toys Dance the Cha Cha Cha") shortly before debuting as a writer with The Pornographers.
I'm only familiar with The Pornographers, but apparently his best-known work is now -- thanks to the movie-version -- Grave of the Fireflies (though despite the movie -- get the DVD at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- there doesn't seem to have been a US/UK edition of Nosaka's text).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kurumatani Choukitsu's The Paradise Bird Tattoo(or, Attempted Double-Suicide).
This came out in English a few years back -- apparently not successfully enough to get anything else of his translated (yet) .....