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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 August 2017

1 August: Translation in ... Georgia | Ós Pressan profile | Used book-selling in ... South Africa | Black Run review
2 August: Nabokov's Lolita inspired by ... Dalí's Dullita ? | Etisalat Prize re-branding
3 August: NZ PM's Awards for Literary Achievement | GST issues in India | The Magus review
4 August: Neustadt Prize jurors | Royal Society prize shortlist | Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine review
5 August: NEH Grants
6 August: Editing in ... South Africa | Writers on partition | My Heart Hemmed In review
7 August: Indian-language literature | Murakami's Polish translator
8 August: Literary swearing | (American) National Translation Awards shortlists | US sales numbers, 2016 | Life of a Bishop's Assistant review
9 August: 'The Global Anthology' | New(ly officially approved) German words
10 August: Kingdom Cons review

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10 August 2017 - Thursday

Kingdom Cons review

       Kingdom Cons review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Yuri Herrera's Kingdom Cons, just out from And Other Stories.
       This is the third of Herrera's short novels to be translated into English, all part of a loose trilogy, but it's actually his first -- and started out as his MFA thesis at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2003.

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

9 August 2017 - Wednesday

'The Global Anthology' | New(ly officially approved) German words

       'The Global Anthology'

       A neat project at the Culture Trip, where they offer a Global Anthology, a world-spanning sampler-anthology of literature from ... everywhere. Or at least 220 nations, territories, and assorted not-quite-state locales. (Even so, there are places and (significant) languages that get short shrift -- notably regional Indian literature.)
       Still, an impressive collection, and obviously a great variety.

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

       New(ly officially approved) German words

       The new Duden -- the standard German dictionary -- is out, with 5000 new words (quite an increase, given that the total wordcount is only 145,000); at Deutsche Welle they have a decent overview, German language officially gets 5,000 new words.
       'Emoji' is now a ... (German) word, for example.
       But almost disappointing to hear that:
(T)he Germanized spellings of some words -- "Majonäse," "Ketschup" and "Anschovis" -- have been done away with.

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

8 August 2017 - Tuesday

Literary swearing | (American) National Translation Awards shortlists
US sales numbers, 2016 | Life of a Bishop's Assistant review

       Literary swearing

       Who doesn't love some word-counting literary data-analysis ? And I'm almost surprised it took this long for someone to do this -- but now Jean M. Twenge, Hannah VanLandingham, and W. Keith Campbell have, looking into: The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television: Increases in the Use of Swear Words in American Books, 1950-2008.
       Unsurprisingly, they find:
American books contained dramatically more swear words in the late 2000s than they did in the early 1950s. Readers of books in the late 2000s were 28 times more likely than those in the early 1950s to come across one of the "seven words you can never say on television."
       I especially appreciate the helpful graphing:

Literary swearing

       There's some discussion -- but obviously also a lot of room for follow-up studies ...; I look forward to seeing them.

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

       (American) National Translation Awards shortlists

       The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has announced the shortlists for the 2017 National Translation Awards, in poetry and fiction.
       Only one of the titles is under review at the complete review -- Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto, in Esther Allen's translation.
       The winners will be announced at the ALTA conference in early October.

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

       US sales numbers, 2016

       The Association of American Publishers released their 2016 numbers a few days ago, and at Publishers Weekly Jim Milliot sums things up in his report.
       Revenue was down 5.1 per cent -- but unit sales were up by 1.2 per cent.
       Disappointingly (worryingly ?):
Books with religious and inspirational themes from religious presses and trade publishers were among the best-selling books.
       E-book sales continue to slump, down 16.9% (revenue) and 14.7% (unit sales) compared to 2015 -- though presumably that comes with caveats regarding the counting of Kindle-editions and whatnot (it's apparently harder to keep track of e-sales, in all the e-formats, than it is print books).
       While: "publishers saw increased revenue from trade book sales at physical retail stores":
Most of the books purchased in 2016 were bought from an online retailer; about 814 million units were sold into online channels in 2016. About 672 million books were sold to physical bookstores.

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

       Life of a Bishop's Assistant review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Viktor Shklovsky's 1931 novel, Life of a Bishop's Assistant, Dalkey Archive Press' latest Shklovsky translation.

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

7 August 2017 - Monday

Indian-language literature | Murakami's Polish translator

       Indian-language literature

       No money writing in Indian languages, say poets they report at the Times of India -- surely about as unsurprising a claim as one could make. (You could leave out the: 'in Indian languages' and already gets nods of universal agreement; include them and, well, come on ...)
       As Suryasnata Tripathy notes:
"There is no money in regional language writing. One of the major hurdles as a regional poet and upcoming writer is to convince the publishing house. Publishers are not so keen on taking risk in regional poetry, unless the poet is well known," said the 26-year-old poet, who is currently pursuing his PhD in microelectronics at IIT-Hyderabad.
       (A PhD in microelectronics definitely sounds like a good career back-up plan.)

       Meanwhile, The Hindu reports on the recent Bengaluru Poetry Festival, in English fails to capture cultural essence of regional work in translation: Gulzar.
       This also includes the new-to-me 'translation is like'-variation:
Translation is like transferring perfume from one bottle to another. In the process, some of the fragrance will be lost.
       Begging the question: why is anyone transferring perfume from one bottle to another. But maybe something got lost in translation .....

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

       Murakami's Polish translator

       In the Christian Science Monitor Jingnan Peng invites you to Meet the woman who brings Haruki Murakami works to an enthusiastic Poland -- Boston University lecturer Anna Zielińska-Elliott, who has lived in the US since 1993 and translates Murakami into Polish.
       Some fascinating titbits -- none more so than:
To preserve the feel of the Japanese original, Zielińska-Elliott has to race against another “deadline” – the publication date of the English translation.

Her editor, who does not speak Japanese, would judge her work’s quality based on the published English translation, Zielińska-Elliott explained. This phenomenon, called “the hegemony of English,” is a frustration for many European translators of Murakami.

“English versions are often heavily edited. And generally, they tend to domesticate, so all the foreignness is taken out,” Zielińska-Elliott said. “My editor would compare my version to the English and say: ‘This is not in the original.’ And I’d say: ‘Yeah, it was cut from your ‘original,’ but it is in the ‘original original.’”
       Makes you wonder how different US/UK appreciation of Murakami is .....
       (I continue to be amazed by the extent (and acceptance-with-a-shrug ...) of editorial interference -- generally in the form of radical and extensive cuts -- in the English translations of Murakami's work. Yes, he's had the commercial success that one can argue these are 'successful'. And yet .....)

       Zielińska-Elliott has also translated Mishima's Temple of the Golden Pavilion and Yoshimoto Banana's Kitchen into Polish.

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

6 August 2017 - Sunday

Editing in ... South Africa | Writers on partition
My Heart Hemmed In review

       Editing in ... South Africa

       At Books Live they have a report on Six local authors and publishers on decolonising editing in South Africa: a panel discussion, a panel recently held at the University of the Witwatersrand, hosted by Jacana Media.
       Interesting to see how much of the discussion -- as discussed here -- is about questions of language
       There's a livestream of (much ?) of the discussion at (sigh) Facebook.

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

       Writers on partition

       In The Guardian they collect the thoughts of a number of writers on Partition, 70 years on: Salman Rushdie, Kamila Shamsie and other writers reflect -- some interesting thoughts and opinions.

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

       My Heart Hemmed In review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marie NDiaye's My Heart Hemmed In, recently out in English from Two Lines Press.

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

5 August 2017 - Saturday

NEH Grants

       NEH Grants

       The possibly-Trump-endangered American National Endowment for the Humanities has announced its most recent batch of grants -- "$39.3 Million for 245 Humanities Projects Nationwide".
       Twenty-eight of the grants were in the 'Public Scholar Program' -- supporting: "well-researched books in the humanities aimed at a broad public audience" -- and The Washington Post conveniently collects them here.
       Twenty-two grants, totaling US$$5.87 million, were for 'Scholarly Editions and Translations'; no convenient listing at the official page yet, but you can find them (arduously) in the (geographically (!) arranged) complete list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of this year's grants. They include the: "Preparation of a print and digital edition and translation of the Way of the Poet-King, a seminal literary treatise from 9th-century India written in the regional language Kannada", and: "The Ancient Graffiti Project: An Open-Access Critical Edition of First Century Pompeian Wall Inscriptions".

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

4 August 2017 - Friday

Neustadt Prize jurors | Royal Society prize shortlist
Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine review

       Neustadt Prize jurors

       They've announced the nine jurors for the 2018 Neustadt International Prize, a biennial author prize.
       The jurors play an even more significant role here than with most literary prizes, as they individually pre-select the finalists: each juror gets to pick one favored author (who will all be announced 5 September). Then they all get together and vote for the winner, who will be announced 9 November.
       In the official press release they somewhat misleadingly note:
First given in 1970 to Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, the Neustadt since has included Nobel Prize in Literature recipients Gabriel García Márquez, Czesław Miłosz, Octavio Paz, and Bob Dylan, as well as many well-known novelists, poets, and playwrights.
       García Márquez, Miłosz, and Paz all actually won the Neustadt; Dylan did not -- he was only a finalist (in 2012), and it speaks well for the prize that when he was nominated (sillily, by Andrea De Carlo) the rest of the jurors decided on someone -- anyone ! -- else (Rohinton Mistry). Unlike the misguided Swedish Academy, who will never live down their awful misstep .....

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

       Royal Society prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.
       The winner will be announced 19 September.

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

       Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Quentin Mouron's Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine, recently out in English from Bitter Lemon Press.

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

3 August 2017 - Thursday

NZ PM's Awards for Literary Achievement | GST issues in India
The Magus review

       NZ PM's Awards for Literary Achievement

       They've announced this year's winners of the New Zealand Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement (worth a tidy NZ$60,000), with Witi Ihimaera taking the fiction prize
       (Yes, Ihimaera is best known as the author of the book-that-was-made-into-the-film The Whale Rider (get your copy at or but I would have included him in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction even without that ...; see also the New Zealand Book Council page on the author.)

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

       GST issues in India

       India has introduced a 'Goods and Services Tax' (GST) -- a sort of super-VAT -- and books are in the 'zero-tax category' (alongside, among other things ... human hair, many foodstuffs, bones (also in grist and meal form), stamps, and newspapers) but, as Aditi Maheshwari Goyal notes at, that doesn't mean publishers and booksellers are unaffected -- indeed, Booksellers and publishers are feeling the heat of GST. Will they pass on the burden to the reader ?
the cost of book-making will go up by 10%-28% (excluding the overheads) and this will have to be paid directly by the publisher unless it is passed on to the reader, because there is no provision to claim Input Tax Credits (ITC) -- taxes paid by suppliers -- like in the erstwhile Value Added Tax (VAT).

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

       The Magus review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of John Fowles' classic, The Magus.
       It's a strange one .....

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

2 August 2017 - Wednesday

Nabokov's Lolita inspired by ... Dalí's Dullita ? | Etisalat Prize re-branding

       Nabokov's Lolita inspired by ... Dalí's Dullita ?

       At PBS's Newshour Elizabeth Flock considers: Was Nabokov's 'Lolita' inspired by a little-known story by Salvador Dali ?
       Yes, after Michael Maar's speculations in (his about to be re-issued) The Two Lolitas, Delia Ungureanu offers another theory in her forthcoming From Paris to Tlön (see the Bloomsbury publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or that Nabokov's Lolita had a precursor in Salvador Dalí's 'Dullita'.
       The girl-character is mentioned both in his story 'Reverie' and his memoir, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí .....
       And there's even a drawing:

Dullita by Dali

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

       Etisalat Prize re-branding

       The Etisalat Prize for Literature is a leading African literary prize -- but one of the difficulties with corporate sponsorship is that corporate stability is often ... unstable. Etisalat Nigeria has been wobbling of late, and -- for now -- the result has been a re-branding/structuring: they now call themselves '9mobile'.
       For now, as Ozolua Uhakheme reports in The Nation Etisalat Prize for Literature must live -- and it does, albeit re-branded as the 9mobile Prize for Literature; still, the official press release suggests everything is set for the 2018 prize.
       We'll see how that goes .....

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

1 August 2017 - Tuesday

Translation in ... Georgia | Ós Pressan profile
Used book-selling in ... South Africa | Black Run review

       Translation in ... Georgia

       At Tamar Khurtsia reports on Literature across borders: translating culture to build connections between Georgia and Europe, as Creative Europe support now allows Georgian publishers Agora and Elfi to: "translate, publish, and promote 20 books in two years" -- useful in a market dominated by translations-from-the-English.

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

       Ós Pressan profile

       At Grapevine Björn Halldórsson writes about The Outsiders: Ós Press Tackles The Icelandic Publishing Industry, profiling nonprofit writing collective Ós Pressan -- who, in their journals: "will accept and publish work in any language, which gives rise to some interesting connotations".

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

       Used book-selling in ... South Africa

       At VOA Darren Taylor reports that Used Book Sales Boom in S. Africa as Economic Recession Bites -- as, for example:
Dealers across Johannesburg put the number of second hand book stores at about 50, up from about 25 just a few years ago.
       Presumably, a lot of the used-book success comes at the cost of lower new-book sales, so the overall positives for the economy are likely limited. But at least folks are buying books !

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

       Black Run review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first Rocco Schiavone Mystery by Antonio Manzini, Black Run.

       (I've had this lying around for a while but picked it up now because I saw that the follow-up, A Cold Death (published in the US as Adam's Rib, because ... publishers ... ?) is one of the six finalists for this year's CWA International Dagger and, as I've mentioned, three of the other finalists are under review at the complete review, so I was curious.)

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

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