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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 July 2017

21 July: Children's literature in ... Tamil | Aslı Erdoğan Q & A | Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation | The Adventures of John Blake review
22 July: Zubaan Books profile
23 July: 'Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries'
24 July: Tom Stoppard profile | The Hole review
25 July: Naiyer Masud (1936-2017) | Publishing in ... Germany
26 July: FLIP | 'Translator as Medium' | Living with the Living Dead review
27 July: Man Booker Prize longlist | Samizdat | Keshiki chapbook reviews
28 July: The Kakutani booked-out at The New York Times | CWA International Dagger shortlist
29 July: 'World Series'-Q & A | City of Ulysses review
30 July: Liao Yiwu Q & A | Meja Mwangi in ... German
31 July: ZIBF | Late Fame review

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31 July 2017 - Monday

ZIBF | Late Fame review


       The Zimbabwe International Book Fair runs through 5 August, with the theme this year (a threatening ?) 'Making the Book Pay'.
       In The Herald Stanely Mushava reports on the fair, in ZIBF wants the book to pay -- noting that:
One of the main problems with ZIBF is lukewarm public participation as the fair compares unfavourably to other flagship events in the culture economy.
       Hard to make the book pay when you can't get an audience .....
       Still, focusing on the business side of the business isn't a bad idea.

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

       Late Fame review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arthur Schnitzler's Late Fame, a novella he wrote in the 1890s but that was first published only a few years ago.
       Pushkin Press brought out the English translation in the UK two years ago, and now New York Review Books have a US edition out.
       Leo Carey's 2002 review/profile of Schnitzler in The New Yorker, The Dream Master, is a good introduction to the author.

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

30 July 2017 - Sunday

Liao Yiwu Q & A | Meja Mwangi in ... German

       Liao Yiwu Q & A

       Peace Prize of the German Book Trade-winning author Liao Yiwu's Die Wiedergeburt der Ameisen -- apparently only available in German, for now -- is among the titles longlisted for the 2017 Jan Michalski Prize (see also the S.Fischer publicity page) -- and in the Tages-Anzeiger Bernhard Ott has a (German) Q & A with the author (and close friend of recently deceased Liu Xiaobo).
       Asked about returning to China (he lives in German exile) Liao says that if he returns someday, he hopes it is to an "independent nation of Sichuan" (Szechuan); given Chinese attitudes about, say, Tibetan or Uyghur secession (both certainly realistic and eventually likely, if not in the near future, but unthinkable/unspeakable in the PRC), or the status of Taiwan (completely independent in everything but (mainland) Chinese name), the very idea of an independent Sichuan must make them apoplectic.

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

       Meja Mwangi in ... German

       Kenyan author Meja Mwangi's Christmas Without Tusker came out in English a few years ago (get your copy at or, but barely registered in the US or UK (as an 'Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,830,206' suggests ...) -- yet a translation has now appeared in German (see the Peter Hammer publicity page) and it's now even been reviewed, by Almut Seiler-Dietrich, in nothing less than the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
       Mwangi is a very popular author -- the best-known Kenyan author beside Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Seiler-Dietrich suggests -- and he certainly rated a mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- but is apparently too 'popular' to make any inroads in the US/UK, his books not conforming to the expected view of what an 'African' author should be writing .....

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

29 July 2017 - Saturday

'World Series'-Q & A | City of Ulysses review

       'World Series'-Q & A

       The Peter Owen/Istros Books World Series publishes a trio of books from less widely translated languages at a time, and at the Los Angeles Review of Books Susan Curtis-Kojaković interviews Simon Smith about it, in From Slovenia to Spain: The Peter Owen World Series.

       I've only reviewed two of the first six titles so far, but expect to get to more:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       City of Ulysses review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Teolinda Gersão's City of Ulysses, recently out from Dalkey Archive Press.

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

28 July 2017 - Friday

The Kakutani booked-out at The New York Times
CWA International Dagger shortlist

       The Kakutani booked-out at The New York Times

       Michiko Kakutani has been reviewing books at The New York Times since 1983 (!), and has long surely been the most influential daily-newspaper reviewer in the United States (not that most people could name very many (any ?) others ...), but now she's hanging it up: as The New York Times reports, Michiko Kakutani Steps Down as Chief Book Critic.
       In a tweet she says she is: "Moving on to focus on longer pieces about politics & culture" -- though I can't help but wonder what effect the consolidation of the daily The New York Times' book coverage with that of the (previously) entirely separate (Sunday) The New York Times Book Review, under Pamela Paul, played in the decision(s).
       In any case, The New York Times is playing it up nicely: check out 38 Years on Books: The Essential Michiko Kakutani Reader ! Find out how the Literary World Reacts to Michiko Kakutani's Departure !
       And, of course, it's big news elsewhere too: early articles include Megan Garber in The Atlantic, on What Michiko Kakutani Talked About When She Talked About Books.

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

       CWA International Dagger shortlist

       They've announced the shortlists for the CWA Daggers -- including for the CWA International Dagger, awarded for the best translated: "crime novels (defined by the broadest definition)".
       Somewhat surprisingly, three of the six finalists are under review at the complete review:        (No stand-out favorite here for me, however.)

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

27 July 2017 - Thursday

Man Booker Prize longlist | Samizdat
Keshiki chapbook reviews

       Man Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize, thirteen novels that include the new one by Arundhati Roy, Colson Whitehead's already much-prized The Underground Railroad and George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, the Smiths A to Z -- new books by both Ali and Zadie --, as well as Paul Auster's 4 3 2 1 and a new Sebastian Barry.
       Entirely predictably, I do not have any of these titles, and have only leafed through a few at the library/bookstores; Mohsin Hamid's Exit West and Mike McCormack's Solar Bones look like the ones I'm most likely to get to -- but overall, as you surely understand, I'm probably the wrong address if you're looking for meaningful Man Booker discussion.
       A shortlist will be announced on 13 September, and the winner will be announced 17 October.

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


       At the BBC Benjamin Ramm offers an overview of The writers who defied Soviet censors, a nice little look back at the samizdat (etc.)-phenomenon.

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

       Keshiki chapbook reviews

       "Strangers Press is dedicated to publishing the finest literature in translation in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia, and Writers' Centre Norwich" -- so that's about as promising as it gets, right ? And one of their first projects has been an eight-volume series of chapbooks, the Keshiki series.
       I am lucky enough to have the full set -- and reviews of two of the titles are the most recent additions to the complete review:        More to follow !

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

26 July 2017 - Wednesday

FLIP | 'Translator as Medium' | Living with the Living Dead review


       The Paraty International Literary Festival starts today and runs through Sunday.
       Sofia Perpetua's preview at PRI's The World reports For the first time in its history, Brazil's top literary festival showcases books by women and minorities, while The Rio Times' preview by Beatriz Miranda reports that Rio's FLIP Literature Festival Returns to Paraty this Wednesday.

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

       'Translator as Medium'

       At the World Literature Today weblog they have an essay (originally published in Turkish, in the July issue of the (Cologne-based) literary journal Sabah Ülkesi) by Charlotte Mandell, Translator as Medium.

       (Mandell's translations include Mathias Énard's Compass.)

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

       Living with the Living Dead review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Greg Garrett on The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse, in Living with the Living Dead, recently out from Oxford University Press

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

25 July 2017 - Tuesday

Naiyer Masud (1936-2017) | Publishing in ... Germany

       Naiyer Masud (1936-2017)

       Urdu-writing author Naiyer Masud has passed away; see, for example, the report at the Times of India (though note that I have not been able to find any evidence of the Collected works of Naiyer Masud they claim Oxford University Press has published).
       That report also quotes Anis Ashfaq as saying:
His short stories were widely popular in the west and feature in the syllabus of around 80% Urdu departments of foreign universities
       Which seems to be about as good a guess as any.
       Only one of his books is under review at the complete review: Essence of Camphor (and, yes, of course he got a mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction).

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

       Publishing in ... Germany

       Generally, the new opportunities for small and independent publishers are a positive, but when it comes to, as Sabine Peschel reports at Deutsche Welle, New strategies for far-right publishers in Germany, well ... sigh.

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

24 July 2017 - Monday

Tom Stoppard profile | The Hole review

       Tom Stoppard profile

       In Prospect Andrew Dickson considers Tom Stoppard's heartfelt high jinks.

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

       The Hole review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pyun Hye-Young's The Hole, just out in English from Arcade.

       The story out of which this novel developed, Caring for Plants, was recently published in The New Yorker -- usually a big springboard for a writer. So will Pyun be the next hot writer from South Korea, along with Han Kang (The Vegetarian, etc.), Bae Suah (Nowhere to Be Found, etc.), and Shin Kyung-Sook (Please Look After Mom, etc.) ?
       Interestingly, when Dalkey Archive Press recently published her collection of stories, Evening Proposal, in their Library of Korean Literature-series, they did so writing her name Korean style (family name first) 'Pyun Hye Young' -- see their publicity page --, while Arcade has published this novel Western-style as by: 'Hye-Young Pyun' -- the increasingly popular style among commercial publishers of Korean fiction. It'll be interesting to see how confusing that is for US/UK book-buyers -- I figure most would find a switch to (Western-style) 'Kang Han' very disorienting at this point .....
       As it stands now, US/UK publishers almost always publish Japanese names Western-style (e.g. 'Haruki Murakami'), seem about evenly split with Korean ones, and practically never do it with Chinese names (The Three-Body Problem-author Liu Cixin is the very rare exception) -- a strange and confusing inconsistency.
       (House style at the complete review has it: however the name is published domestically is how it's written here, regardless of what's on the US/UK cover -- hence also 'Murakami Haruki' and 'Kertész Imre'.)

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

23 July 2017 - Sunday

'Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries'

       'Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries'

       This has been making the rounds in recent days, and the 'infographic' at Global English Editing, The Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries Around the World, is closer to hit than miss than most of these kinds of exercises.
       'Set in' doesn't necessarily mean 'from', so some of these aren't local; a bit of non figures in along with the fiction: there are some very strange choices (Beowulf is the best they could come up with for Denmark ? The Bridge Over the River Kwai for Thailand ?); and quite a few countries are ignored (including a whole swathe of Africa, from Mauritania to Niger, Eritrea, and Djibouti (come on, Abdourahman A. Waberi's Transit is surely the obvious choice)). Still, you could -- and generally do, with these sort of internet list -- do a lot worse.

       (Of course, there's always my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction to refer to, if you really want to be covered; get your copy at or

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

22 July 2017 - Saturday

Zubaan Books profile

       Zubaan Books profile

       They recently announced that this year's Goethe Medals would go to Emily Nasrallah, Irina Shcherbakova, and Zubaan-publisher Urvashi Butalia.
       At Urvashi Bahuguna has a Q & A with the publisher, in which she explains What winning the Goethe Medal means for feminist publisher Urvashi Butalia.
       Zubaan Books are reasonably readily available in the US, distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

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

21 July 2017 - Friday

Children's literature in ... Tamil | Aslı Erdoğan Q & A
Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
The Adventures of John Blake review

       Children's literature in ... Tamil

       In The Hindu Suganthy Krishnamachari wonders Whither children's literature in Tamil ? -- as apparently the 'dull present' can't compare with a 'happy past' .....

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

       Aslı Erdoğan Q & A

       At Deutsche Welle Ceyda Nurtsch has a Q & A with one of the many writers jailed in the recent government crackdown, The City in Crimson Cloak-author Aslı Erdoğan.
       Now free, she notes: "my soul is still in prison".

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

       Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

       As every literary prize should -- so that you know what titles are actually being considered/in the running, the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation admirably lists all the entries for each year's prize -- so also now this year.
       Disappointingly, only one of these titles is under review at the complete review -- The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette.
       A shortlist will be announced in December, and the winner will be announced mid-January 2018.

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

       The Adventures of John Blake review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Philip Pullman's first foray into 'graphic' (novel) fiction, with illustrator Fred Fordham, The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship.

       This was reviewed -- enthusiastically -- in The New York Times Book Review and even the Times Literary Supplement. I was less impressed .....

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

previous entries (11 - 20 July 2017)

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