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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 July 2016

21 July: Hong Kong Book Fair | Sergei Minaev
22 July: Slovak literature in translation | Donald Nicholson-Smith Q & A
23 July: German book prices | Atlas of an Anxious Man review
24 July: Laâbi translations | Mr. Turtle review
25 July: Fiction in translation | Somali reading | Zimbabwe International Book Fair
26 July: Read Russia Translation Prize longlists | Tim LaHaye (1926-2016)
27 July: New issue of 91st Meridian | The First Wife review
28 July: CuratedAI | Man Booker Prize longlist | In conversation with Tyler Cowen | So Much for That Winter review
29 July: Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016) | PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant winners
30 July: Hong Kong Review of Books | Amitav Ghosh Q & A | International Conference on the Short Story in English
31 July: Neglected/overlooked Indian literature | P.O.Enquist profile | End-of-days fiction (not) in China

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31 July 2016 - Sunday

Neglected/overlooked Indian literature | P.O.Enquist profile
End-of-days fiction (not) in China

       Neglected/overlooked Indian literature

       In The Hindu they: "surveyed some of India's respected writers and editors on underrated and neglected books and authors since independence", in Keshava Guha's Expanding the canon -- asking then which post-independence books/authors they consider most underrated, and which would they like to see translated (or re-translated) into English (or other languages).
       Always an interesting/helpful exercise -- and interesting to see two votes for Naiyer Masud, whose Essence of Camphor is under review at the complete review). And one hopes US/UK publishers will consider some of these translation-suggestions .....

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

       P.O.Enquist profile

       Per Olov Enquist has long been a local favorite, and it's nice to see him get a profile in The Guardian, by Andrew Brown.
       His The Parable Book is just out in the UK -- get your copy at, or see the MacLehose publicity page -- but apparently doesn't have a US publisher; see also the Norstedts Agency information page.

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

       End-of-days fiction (not) in China

       Via I'm pointed to Isaac Stone Fish's article in Foreign Policy, arguing: 'Why apocalyptic fiction and film haven't caught on in the Middle Kingdom', The End of Days Is Coming -- Just Not to China.
       An interesting overview and explanation.

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

30 July 2016 - Saturday

Hong Kong Review of Books | Amitav Ghosh Q & A
International Conference on the Short Story in English

       Hong Kong Review of Books

       The Hong Kong Review of Books is a promising-looking recently-founded online journal, and at the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog Susan Blumberg-Kason has a Q & A with co-founder Alfie Bown offering a bit more background.

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

       Amitav Ghosh Q & A

       Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement -- subtitled 'Climate Change and the Unthinkable' -- is already out in India but only coming out, from the University of Chicago Press, in the US and UK at the end of September; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or -- and I'll be very curious to see reactions here.
       There's been quite a bit of Indian coverage, and at Nayantara Narayanan now has a Q & A with him about it.

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

       International Conference on the Short Story in English

       They just held the International Conference on the Short Story in English -- in Shanghai -- on the theme of 'Influence and Confluence in the Short Story: East and West'.
       At ShanghaiDaily Xu Qin reports on the proceedings, in Story event a tale of literary exploration -- and with the impressive list of participants it sounds like it was quite interesting.

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

29 July 2016 - Friday

Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016) | PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant winners

       Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016)

       The great Indian author Mahasweta Devi has passed away; see, for example, the report.
       Certainly, many English-writing Indian authors are better-known abroad, but few have anywhere near the stature she did in India -- in no small part also because of her prominent activist role --; see, for example, Manik Sharma noting that Mahasweta Devi's death leaves a void in the literary world that will be hard to fill at First Post. (She was also -- accurately -- long considered the Indian author with the best chances for the Nobel.)
       Seagull Books are bringing out her collected works in English -- check out their catalogue. Yes, that's quite a selection !
       Bait is currently the only one of her titles under review at the complete review, but I have -- and should get to -- more.

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

       PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant winners

       They've announced the winners of this year's PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants, fourteen projects, covering nine languages, selected from 171 applications, each of which will get a grant of US$ 3,670.
       Quite a few of these don't have publishers yet, so one hopes this will help bring them to the attention of more publishers -- certainly some interesting/worthy-sounding projects among them.

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

28 July 2016 - Thursday

CuratedAI | Man Booker Prize longlist | In conversation with Tyler Cowen
So Much for That Winter review


       CuratedAI is a new online publication, billing itself as: "A literary magazine written by machines, for people".
       Yes, as they explain:
CuratedAI is a literary magazine with a twist -- all stories and poems are generated by machines using the tricks of the Artificial Intelligence trade. Editing, for now, is still the domain of us humans, but we aim to keep our touch as light as possible.
       I suppose that until it becomes: 'A literary magazine written by machines, for machines' I shouldn't worry too much ... still, I'm finding this rather disconcerting. (Yes, intriguing too, but .....)

       At Popular Science Thom Leavy reports that Artificial Intelligences Are Writing Poetry For A New Online Literary Magazine, and at Lit Bear they actually review the early offerings.

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

       Man Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for the Man Booker Prize, the leading international prize for a novel written in English (and published in the UK).
       The longlisted titles were selected from 155 submissions -- though, alas, they won't reveal what those submissions were, and so we have no way of knowing what books (beyond these thirteen ...) were even in the running. (There is now a complex formula that determines how many books an imprint is allowed to submit -- long/shortlist success in previous years translates into a greater submission allowance -- but publishers are for the most part very constrained in how many (few) titles they are allowed to submit, meaning lots of good stuff likely never even gets a chance. (Impressively, the Man Booker folk have so managed to confuse this issue that there seems to have been nary a mention of the submission limitations (and allowances) leading up to this year's prize; I know it's expecting way too much from the literary 'press' to look into this bullshit process, but come on ...).)
       Most of these titles have not been released in the US yet, so especially for American audiences there's still a lot to discover here.
       Notable omissions include new/forthcoming books by Ian McEwan and Don DeLillo.
       None of these titles are under review at the complete review at this time, and I probably won't get to very many of them -- though the Coetzee, in particular, of course does tempt .....

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

       In conversation with Tyler Cowen

       It was a great honor and pleasure to be in conversation with Tyler Cowen -- and to go book-shopping with him at New York's Strand Bookstore (video of which should be available next week ...) -- and you can now watch the full conversation, read the transcript (where you can also just listen to the conversation) -- and you can also watch me answer Marginal Revolution-reader-questions which Tyler didn't get to.

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

       So Much for That Winter review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dorthe Nors' So Much for That Winter, a two-novella collection just published by Graywolf.

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

27 July 2016 - Wednesday

New issue of 91st Meridian | The First Wife review

       New issue of 91st Meridian

       There's a new issue of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa's 91st Meridian out, a 'Special Issue: South Asian Writing'.
       Microfiction by The Legends of Khasak-author O.V. Vijayan (here) ? Poetry by The Girl with the Golden Parasol-author Uday Prakash (here) ? I certainly don't need anymore convincing .....

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

       The First Wife review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Tale of Polygamy by Mozambican author Paulina Chiziane, The First Wife, just (about) out from Archipelago Books.

       This book actually (almost) first appeared in 2010, when much-missed Aflame Books wanted to bring it out -- a reminder yet again what was lost when they went under. (Damn, they had a fine list, and great ambitions ....)

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

26 July 2016 - Tuesday

Read Russia Translation Prize longlists | Tim LaHaye (1926-2016)

       Read Russia Translation Prize longlists

       They've announced the longlists for the Read Russia Translation Prize -- "28 translators from 18 countries have been provisionally nominated" -- and at Russia Beyond The Headlines Alexandra Guzeva has the run-down.
       These are for translations into any language, and it's noteworthy that translations-into-English do not dominate -- two of nine in 'Classic literature of the 19th century'; zero of eight in 'Literature of the 20th century (pre-1990)' (not a popular era for translation-into-English ?); two of six for 'Contemporary literature (post-1990)'; and one of five for 'Poetry'.
       The two US/UK 'Contemporary literature (post-1990)' titles/translations are under review at the complete review:        The shortlist is to be announced in 'mid-August'.

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

       Tim LaHaye (1926-2016)

       This is one of those well-he-sold-so-many-books-how-can-you-not-mention-him mentions ... but, yeah, Tim LaHaye didn't even rate a don't-bother mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction .....
       Anyway, he's dead; see, for example, The Washington Post's obituary.
       No surprise: none of his books are under review at the complete review -- but I did get to Michael Standaert's Skipping Towards Armageddon, and would certainly point you to that before you bother with any of LeHaye's stuff .....

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

25 July 2016 - Monday

Fiction in translation | Somali reading | Zimbabwe International Book Fair

       Fiction in translation

       In The Observer Rachel Cooke considers The subtle art of translating foreign fiction.
       The review of Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse at the complete review is of the old Irene Ash one -- the one Cooke holds in much fonder memory .....
       With six translators (many of whose translations are also under review at the complete review) also commenting, well worth a read.

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

       Somali reading

       At Quartz Abdi Latif Dahir reports that Somalia's nascent love affair with books is blossoming as safety returns to the country, as it's great to see literary enthusiasm thrive even in these conditions. Okay, there are still some geo-political issues -- but with each of the three different regions of Somalia getting its own book fair ... that's pretty neat.
       The Hargeysa International Book Fair -- running through the 28th; you still have time to catch it -- also gets some VOA coverage, as Harun Maruf reports that Somaliland Book Festival Aims to Promote Culture, Preserve Language.

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

       Zimbabwe International Book Fair

       The Zimbabwe International Book Fair was once a big deal; in recent years ... not so much. But they still hold it, and this year's fair apparently is ... this week.
       In The Herald Stanley Mushava has a look at ZIBF: What's new in 2016 ? He notes that ZIBF is: "something of a niche symposium at the moment" -- but given current local conditions the fair should be a good place to find and acquire local books.

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

24 July 2016 - Sunday

Laâbi translations | Mr. Turtle review

       Laâbi translations

       Just a few days ago I mentioned getting the ARC of the forthcoming volume of Abdellatif Laâbi poetry, In Praise of Defeat, in Donald Nicholson-Smith's translation -- see also the Archipelago publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or
       Nicholson-Smith isn't the only one who has been at it, as André Naffis-Sahely's selected translations, Beyond the Barbed Wire, are just out -- see the Carcanet publicity page, or get your copy at or -- and at Guernica they have a Q & A with him.
       Among Naffis-Sahely's responses re. Laâbi:
These days, I'm mostly surprised by the fact he's still alive; given that people have been trying to silence him for almost fifty years, he really shouldn't be.
       As to more general points, I' not sure I agree:
I don't like poems that invent memories, I have enough of my own. I can't quite see the point of poems like "Wittgenstein Goes for a Walk with A Hawk in Sherwood Forest." I know they're trying to be clever, but they're not. Poetry either pulses with real life or it's just an aborted simulacra.
       I have to admit, I don't really need my poetry to 'pulse with real life', and I often find invented memories preferable to poets' own .....

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

       Mr. Turtle review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kitano Yusaku's Mr. Turtle, just out in English from Kurodahan Press.

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

23 July 2016 - Saturday

German book prices | Atlas of an Anxious Man review

       German book prices

       At Boersenblatt they commissioned a study of German book prices since 2010 -- and learned that the average book now costs € 12.92 -- up ... € .78 over the past six years. Not too surprising in these not very inflationary times
       Kids' books have seen the smallest increase -- and they remain the cheapest of all the measured market segments.

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

       Atlas of an Anxious Man review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christoph Ransmayr's Atlas of an Anxious Man, which came out in English from Seagull Books a couple of months ago.
       The French translation of this picked up a few literary prizes, but it hasn't gotten much US/UK review attention (yet ?). Not the usual sort of travel writing, but definitely deserving of some attention.
       Despite several of his works having been translated over the years, Ransmayr seems to have had trouble maintaining any sort of US/UK-audience awareness of him and his work ..... (He rated at least a brief mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.)

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

22 July 2016 - Friday

Slovak literature in translation | Donald Nicholson-Smith Q & A

       Slovak literature in translation

       Only part of this piece from The Slovak Spectator is freely accessible (seriously ? this is a model that works for them ?) but enough to get the gist, and some good quotes, as they note that: Slovak books in the US market struggle.
       Indeed, the first line sums things up pretty well:
English translations of Slovak books sometimes appear in the US market but interest in them is lacking.
       And they do admit that:
Regarding the US market, the whole promotion and distribution of books, which were issued in the US, depends on the publisher -- it is hard to influence it from Bratislava
       Yes ..... I guess there's only so much the Literárne informačné centrum can do, despite all that the site offers -- including conveniently also arranging authors according to their Anniversaries and Jubilees .....
       So 'struggle' is surely putting it mildly .....

       (There are only four translated-from-the-Slovak titles under review at the complete review: Peter Pišt'anek's trilogy, beginning with Rivers of Babylon, and Daniela Kapitáňová's Samko Tále's Cemetery Book (all of them published by UK-based Garnett Press ...)).

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

       Donald Nicholson-Smith Q & A

       At the Culturethèque Blog Anne-Sophie Miller asks Donald Nicholson-Smith about Translating Manchette into English -- meaning, of course, Jean-Patrick Manchette, three of whose novels Nicholson-Smith has translated; see, for example, The Mad and the Bad.
       (And speaking of Manchette's Journal 1966-1974 (see, for example, the Folio publicity page), as Nicholson-Smith does, -- anyone have plans to translate that ...?)

       Interestingly, among Nicholson-Smith's most recent translations is something completely different: I just got the ARC of a nice fat bilingual volume of Abdellatif Laâbi poetry, In Praise of Defeat, that looks mighty promising ..... (See also the Archipelago publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or

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

21 July 2016 - Thursday

Hong Kong Book Fair | Sergei Minaev

       Hong Kong Book Fair

       The Hong Kong Book Fair runs through the 26th.
       The focus/highlights vary, depending on the perspective: Banned books on sale here: Hong Kong book fair will openly sell politically sensitive tomes the South China Morning Post reports; 27th Hong Kong Book Fair opens, featuring Chinese martial arts literature Xinhua emphasizes .....
       And I remind you of last year's headline: Mountain of books thrown away after Hong Kong Book Fair .....

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

       Sergei Minaev

       At CounterPunch Andre Vltchek writes about some Tough Russian Anti-Capitalist Literature -- specifically the writing of Sergei Minaev.
       As he notes:
While Limonov and Minaev sell millions of copies of their books at home, their work is virtually unknown in the West. I found no English translations when searching on, and elsewhere.
       This isn't entirely accurate -- while Minaev does indeed appear to not be available, Limonov has had his moments in the US sun/press, with several translated titles -- remember It's Me, Eddie ? Memoir of a Russian Punk ? His Butler's Story ? yeah, okay, maybe not, but in the day ..... Besides, Limonov has gotten renewed attention through Emmanuel Carrère's unfortunate ... Limonov.
       And amusing/bizarrely, Minaev has even come to The New York Times' attention: see their 2007 Excerpts from an Interview with Sergei Minaev .....

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

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