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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2017

1 June: Women's Prize for Fiction un-branding | 24/7 bookstore in ... Amman
2 June: Tankred Dorst (1925-2017) | 治療塔 review
3 June: Literary prizes: Premio Formentor - Orhan Kemal Novel Prize | Anniversary of Arno Schmidt's death
4 June: Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | Monkey Business profile | How to Tie Your Shoes review
5 June: Juan Goytisolo (1931-2017) | The Parthenon Bomber review
6 June: Bob Dylan delivers (sort of) his Nobel Lecture | Translation prize events in NYC
7 June: The Starling Bureau profile | Prix mondial Cino Del Duca
8 June: Women's Prize for Fiction | Czech fiction in translation | Number 11 review
9 June: Andrey Kurkov Q & A | French-American Foundation Translation Prizes | Griffin Poetry Prizes
10 June: Princess of Asturias Award for Literature | More One Hundred Years of Solitude celebration

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10 June 2017 - Saturday

Princess of Asturias Award for Literature
More One Hundred Years of Solitude celebration

       Princess of Asturias Award for Literature

       They've announced this year's winner of the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, and it is Adam Zagajewski, whose Slight Exaggeration just came out in English; he'll get to pick up the prize with the other laureates "in the second fortnight of October".

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

       More One Hundred Years of Solitude celebration

       As I recently noted, it's the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (get your copy at or, and there's been quite a bit of coverage.
       In addition to the interesting piece by Alvaro Santana-Acuña in The Atlantic I previously pointed you to, How One Hundred Years of Solitude Became a Classic, see now also:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

9 June 2017 - Friday

Andrey Kurkov Q & A
French-American Foundation Translation Prizes | Griffin Poetry Prizes

       Andrey Kurkov Q & A

       At TOL Kseniya Turkova has a Q & A with Death and the Penguin-author Andrey Kurkov -- "Ukraine's best-known writer" --, 'My Dreams Are Not Related to Literature'.

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

       French-American Foundation Translation Prizes

       They awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes -- for the 30th time ! -- at a nice ceremony at the Century Association yesterday, with keynote remarks from last year's 'Translator Laureate', Lydia Davis.
       (Information about the winners wasn't up at the official site yet, last I checked, but see all the finalists.)

       The fiction prize went to Sam Taylor's translation of Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart (not to be confused with the UK/Canadian translation of the same book by Jessica Moore, published as Mend the Living ...).

       The non-fiction prize was split between two books:
        - Charlotte Mandell and Lauren Elkin's translation of Claude Arnaud's Jean Cocteau: A Life; see the Yale University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or
        - Jane Marie Todd's translation of Olivier Wieviorka's The French Resistance; see the Harvard University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Griffin Poetry Prizes

       The Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize is one of the major international poetry awards, with two categories -- international and Canadian -- and yesterday they announced this year's winners.
       Falling Awake, by Alice Oswald, won the international category; see, for example, the W.W.Norton publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Injun, by Jordan Abel, won the Canadian category; see the Talonbooks publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

8 June 2017 - Thursday

Women's Prize for Fiction | Czech fiction in translation
Number 11 review

       Women's Prize for Fiction

       They've announced the winner of the prize-that-was-once-called-the-Orange-Prize-but-I-can't-be-bothered-to-remember-this-week's-sponsor (give me a break: next week, or soon thereafter, there's going to be ... yet another 'new sponsorship model'), and it's The Power, by Naomi Alderman.
       This does not appear to have been released in the US yet; one hopes this prize-win changes that; meanwhile, get your copy at

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

       Czech fiction in translation

       The Prague Daily Monitor reports State to sponsor foreign publishers to translate Czech writers, as the government has apparently decided to be more generous, covering up to 70 per cent of translation costs (previously: 25 per cent) and with publishers now:
newly able to ask for money for the layout and printing of a book, the costs associated with copyright fees and promotion
       (The official Culture Ministry documentation can presumably be found here.)
       On the one hand -- yay ! great ! On the other -- it just shows how dependent US/UK publishers remain on being subsidized. Essentially, except in the rarest cases, they need to be paid to publish something. No wonder translation-into-English is dominated by European languages (that can cough up the most cash). A sad state of affairs.

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

       Number 11 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jonathan Coe's Number 11.

       This is Coe's eleventh novel -- and, yes, all eleven are under review at the complete review, as is his B.S.Johnson biography. It came out in the UK in the fall of 2015, and in the US only this January -- considerably after both the French and Italian translations (and even slightly after the Spanish one); it also hasn't been widely reviewed in the US. Not really to American tastes, I guess -- even as he is such a continental (European) hit .....

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

7 June 2017 - Wednesday

The Starling Bureau profile | Prix mondial Cino Del Duca

       The Starling Bureau profile

       At the World Literature Today weblog Jen Rickard Blair has a Q & A with Roland Glasser about the translator-collective he formed with Morgan Giles, Ruth Clarke, Paul Russell Garett, and Zoë Perry -- The Starling Bureau.
       An interesting idea -- and the success of Paper Republic, focused on translation from the Chinese, suggests this might be a useful way forward.

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

       Prix mondial Cino Del Duca

       The Prix mondial Cino Del Duca may not be the best-known of author-prizes -- and with its 'contemporary humanism' focus extends beyond the merely literary -- but with an impressive (if wildly varied) list of laureates and quite staggering €200,000 in prize money it is ... not insignificant.
       They've now announced -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked -- that Benedetta Craveri is this year's prize-winner; see, for example, the report at Livres Hebdo.
       While not too widely translated into English, her French-salon-study, The Age of Conversation, is available from New York Review Books; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

6 June 2017 - Tuesday

Bob Dylan delivers (sort of) his Nobel Lecture
Translation prize events in NYC

       Bob Dylan delivers (sort of) his Nobel Lecture

       The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature was, bizarrely, awarded to Bob Dylan, and Dylan couldn't be bothered to show up for the official ceremony and only picked up the medal -- furtively -- two months ago, when he was passing through Stockholm anyway. Nevertheless, while he had the official stamp of approval -- he was their Nobel laureate, regardless of how boorish his behavior -- to get the cash (a decent SEK 8,000,000 for the 2016 prize) he had to present, in one form or another, a 'Nobel Lecture', with a deadline of six months after the official ceremony to get that in -- by 10 June.
       Just under the wire, Dylan came through, sending in not the apparently hoped-for video, but at least an audio recording -- yes, he literally mailed it in, rather than showing up in person: you can read it here, or listen to it, for example, here. And, hey, it's an actual lecture -- not just some rambling -- and though he doesn't sing, there's a musical accompaniment of some sort (I have no idea what that's about ...).
       At her official blog, the Swedish Academician-in-charge, Sara Danius hopes: "the Dylan adventure is coming to a close" -- but I'm afraid this embarrassment (and its many humiliating chapters) will take generations to get over.
       Still, one has to admire her being able to write with a ... straight face (oh, I assume some pens and papers and laptops got crushed in the process ...):
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Bob Dylan and his staff, especially Jeff Rosen, for having cooperated so beautifully.
       If this has been beautiful cooperation ... boy, do I have a bridge to sell the Swedish Academy .....

       Playing them until the very end, Dylan not only kept them waiting, he held onto the copyright for the Nobel lecture:
The Nobel Foundation has not obtained the right to assign any usage right to the Nobel Lecture to any third party, and any such rights may thus not be granted.
       This is unheard of and, quite honestly, outrageous: all Nobel lectures have always been copyright © The Nobel Foundation, but apparently in their desperation to get some words from Dylan they didn't even get that. This will probably go less-noticed, but is yet more proof that the awarding of the prize to this guy was a disastrous misstep.
       (Regarding the copyright issue, I do imagine there are some very irate Nobel laureates lodging complaints with the Foundation at this very moment, wondering why the guy with the guitar gets this special, kid-glove treatment -- without even having to show up in that silly white-tie outfit for the king.)

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

       Translation prize events in NYC

       A busy couple of days with translation-prize ceeremonies in New York City this week:

        - today, there's the Albertine Prize Award Ceremony and Party, as J.T.Mahany's translation of Antoine Volodine's Bardo or Not Bardo (see the Open Letter publicity page, or get your copy at or is honored -- with Volodine in attendance (unless he does a Houellebecq -- a no-show at an Albertine event on Friday ...) and Lydia Davis too !

        - on Thursday, 8 June, at 19:00, the Goethe-Institut will be hosting not just the 2017 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize -- going to Charlotte Collins for her translation of Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life (see the Picador and Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicity pages, or get your copy at or, since Bottom's Dream was apparently (and inexplicably) not entered for the prize -- but also the Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York.

        - also on Thursday, 8 June, at 18:00, the French-American Foundation's Translation Prizes will be awarded, at a ceremony with a keynote address by Lydia Davis; see the prize-finalists here.

       (Yes, one might have hoped the French and Germans would have been in closer communication and managed not to schedule the ceremonies for their high-profile translation prizes at the same time, but ..... Flip a coin, choose one, you won't go wrong.)

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

5 June 2017 - Monday

Juan Goytisolo (1931-2017) | The Parthenon Bomber review

       Juan Goytisolo (1931-2017)

       The great Juan Goytisolo has passed away. There are hardly any English-language reports yet -- see, for example, the one at Morocco World News -- but internationally, and especially in the Spanish-language press there's already a lot; see, for example, Muere el escritor Juan Goytisolo a los 86 años en Marrakech at El País.
       A favorite hereabouts, he impressed particularly in his willingness to continue to try new approaches in his writing over the entire course of his life, and in his cross-cultural perspective, including his continuing engagement with Islam (in a very different way than what one finds in, for example, the Anglo-American world of the past two decades). I'd argue he belongs on any list of the ten greatest writers of the past half century.
       Thirteen of his books are under review at the complete review and I should be getting to more. The memoirs are a decent place to start -- Forbidden Territory -- but it's the fiction that really counts. The Marx Family Saga -- the great post-collapse-of-communism novel -- is a personal favorite, but really, it's worth dipping into a variety of his work -- because there is such variety (and so much of it is so very good).

       (Updated - 10 June): See now also translator Peter Bush's A tribute to Juan Goytisolo at the TLS site.

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

       The Parthenon Bomber review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Greek author Christos Chrissopoulos' novella, The Parthenon Bomber, just (about) out from Other Press.

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

4 June 2017 - Sunday

Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | Monkey Business profile
How to Tie Your Shoes review

       Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

       They held Oxford Translation Day 2017 yesterday, with quite the programme -- culminating in the awarding of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
       No word yet at the official site, but tweets have it that Frank Perry's translation (from the Swedish) of Lina Wolff's Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs took the prize; see the And Other Stories publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Lina Wolff's most recent novel won the August Prize -- a leading Swedish literary prize -- and is due to be published by And Other Stories as well; see the Bonniers Rights information page.

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

       Monkey Business profile

       In The Japan Times Justin Maki reports In its seventh year, Monkey Business seen creating hybrid space for Japanese, English literature.
       The new issue, Issue 7, looks pretty nicely packed -- including Murakami Haruki in conversation ('On Writing Short Stories'), and fiction by many authors, old and new, with works under review at the complete review (from Edogawa Rampo to Ogawa Yōko). You might want to get your hands on a copy .....

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

       How to Tie Your Shoes review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nikola Petković's How to Tie Your Shoes, recently out from Dalkey Archive Press -- in the author's own translation (from the Croatian).

       The book also reminds of two other recent translations: Domenico Starnone's Jhumpa Lahiri-translated Ties, whose title also refers to a significant passed-down-from-the-father scene of learning to tie shoelaces (in a particular way), and Mizumura Minae's Inheritance from Mother, in which a (grown) child deals with the decline and death of a not exactly lovable or good parent. (Both the Mizumura and Petković are clearly autobiographically-based, too.)

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

3 June 2017 - Saturday

Literary prizes: Premio Formentor - Orhan Kemal Novel Prize
Anniversary of Arno Schmidt's death

       Literary prize: Premio Formentor

       After a lengthy hiatus -- 1968 to 2010 -- the Premio Formentor was revived as an author-prize in 2011, with a solid list of winners ever since (Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Javier Marías, Enrique Vila-Matas, Ricardo Piglia, Roberto Calasso) -- and they recently announced that the €50,000 prize for 2017 went to The Library at Night(+)-author Alberto Manguel.
       No official site, as far as I can tell, but see, for example, the El País report.

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

       Literary prize: Orhan Kemal Novel Prize

       They recently announced the winner of this year's Orhan Kemal Roman Armağanı, one of the leading Turkish book prizes -- Unutkan Ayna, by Gürsel Korat; see the Yapı Kredi Yayınları publicity page.
       In Hürriyet Daily News Murat Yetkin reports on the awards ceremony speeches, in From a literature award to journalists in prison, as one of the prize jurors is among the (too many) editors, writers, and journalists currently being detained in Turkey.

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

       Anniversary of Arno Schmidt's death

       Arno Schmidt died 3 June 1979, so if you haven't got your copy of Bottom's Dream -- translation of the year (2016 -- though, really: translation of the decade +), no matter what anyone/any prizes say -- why not take this occasion to start in on it ? You have the whole summer to make your way through it .....
       (For a lighter -- and much shorter -- introduction to the man and his work, there's always my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy.)

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

2 June 2017 - Friday

Tankred Dorst (1925-2017) | 治療塔 review

       Tankred Dorst (1925-2017)

       German author Tankred Dorst, among the most-produced of modern German playwrights, has passed away; see, for example, Reinhard Wengierek's (German) remembrance in Die Welt.
       A few of his works -- and there are a lot: the Suhrkamp collected works edition collects over fifty plays in eight volumes -- have been translated into English, though to apparently fairly little notice; the novella This Beautiful Place (get your copy at or is the one you're most likely to be able to find. There is also that Faber volume that pairs an Alan Ayckbourn piece with one of his, both commissioned by the National Theatre (see the Faber publicity page).

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

       治療塔 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Ōe Kenzaburō's 1990 novel, 治療塔. (Yes, it hasn't been translated into English yet -- as is the case for surprisingly many of Ōe 's works.)
       This is mainly of interest because Ōe goes sci-fi here -- not something you see from too many Nobel laureates. Though he does have a hard time letting go of his standard fare here, too .....

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

1 June 2017 - Thursday

Women's Prize for Fiction un-branding | 24/7 bookstore in ... Amman

       Women's Prize for Fiction un-branding

       One of the annoying things about UK literary prizes is that they tend to have sponsor names -- and, sponsors being fickle, those often change. Sure, US prizes have their issues, and arguably 'Pulitzer', 'National Book' Award, and even the 'National Book Critics Circle' Awards are all sponsor-named (though given that the latter doesn't pay out anything ... well ...), but at least there's stability to the names.
       Meanwhile, in the UK, it's almost impossible to keep track of what is what. So kudos to the prize-formerly-known-as-the-Orange-Prize for finding a new arrangement, and opting for the simple (and hopefully permanent) 'Women's Prize for Fiction'.
       Yes, in the press release, Women's Prize for Fiction Announces New Sponsorship Model for 2018 they still shill shamelessly for the current sponsor, but at least in future years there's hope that we can simply ignore them in references to the prize. (Though, of course, thanks for the support and cash ....)

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

       24/7 bookstore in ... Amman

       First off: very cool that they have a bookstore in Amman, Jordan -- Mahall al-Maa -- that is open twenty-four hours a day. Where are our 24/7 bookstores ?
       But apparently they ran into some difficulties for a while -- but Bianca Britton at CNN now reports that Jordan's 24-hour literary labyrinth saved from closure. Which is good news, of course -- but the article is worth checking out just for the bookstore pictures.

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

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