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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 September 2017

11 September: Nobel countdown | The Comely Cook review
12 September: Windham-Campbell Festival | Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award | Indonesian literature | Elif Şafak Q & A | P.S. from Paris review
13 September: German Book Prize shortlist | Translator conversation
14 September: Man Booker Prize shortlist | Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist | Motoyuki Shibata Q & A | Cox review
15 September: Literary prizes: French longlists - Kobzar Literary Award shortlist
16 September: (American) National Book Awards longlists | Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature finalists | The Gourmet Club review
17 September: St. Francis College Literary Prize | Manu Joseph Q & A
18 September: Mogadishu Book Fair | Prix Sade | New Quarterly Conversation
19 September: Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist | Graywolf Press Africa Prize | State of the German Novel ? | Return to the Dark Valley review
20 September: Royal Society Science Book Prize | Swiss Book Prize finalists | FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award shortlist

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20 September 2017 - Wednesday

       Royal Society Science Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize (while managing to avoid actually mentioning the winning title in the headline ...), and it's Testosterone Rex, by Cordelia Fine.
       In the UK the subtitle for this one is: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds; in the US: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society.
       See also the publicity pages from Icon and W.W.Norton, or get your copy at or

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

       Swiss Book Prize finalists

       They've announced the five finalists for this year's Schweizer Buchpreis, selected from seventy-eight (unfortunately -- but predictably -- not revealed ...) submissions. (A reminder also that this is, in fact, the German-language Swiss Book Prize, limited as it is .....)
       The winner will be announced 12 November.

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

       FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award shortlist

       They've announced the six-title-strong shortlist for this year's the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.
       The winner will be announced 6 November.

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

19 September 2017 - Tuesday

Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist | Graywolf Press Africa Prize
State of the German Novel ? | Return to the Dark Valley review

       Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist

       The Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize has announced its 2017 longlist -- twelve titles selected from 112 (unfortunately not revealed ...) submitted title.
       Rachel Cusk's Transit has probably gotten the most attention outside Canada, but some other interesting-sounding titles here too.
       The shortlist will be announced shortly -- 2 October.

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

       Graywolf Press Africa Prize

       This is pretty neat: Graywolf has announced a Graywolf Press Africa Prize, "to be awarded for a first novel manuscript by an African author primarily residing in Africa".
       Yes, it's a bit odd that such a prize is being offered in/from ... Minnesota -- but, hey, whatever works, right ?
       Admirably: "Submissions must be in English, but translations are acceptable" (yes, we all know how that will work out -- but at least the possibility is there ...).
       Note that submissions must be made in the relatively narrow 1 to 31 October window !

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

       State of the German Novel ?

       In The Skinny Annie Rutherford profiles Clemens Meyer & Jenny Erpenbeck on the German Novel, focusing on their two most recent novels.
The German novels to be excited about right now have no comedy moustaches and no young men wearing horn-rimmed spectacles. Instead, theyíre experimental and full of empathy.
       I'm kind of thinking of holding out for some more comedy-mustache-filled fiction, German or otherwise .....

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

       Return to the Dark Valley review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Santiago Gamboa's new novel, Return to the Dark Valley, just out in English from Europa Editions.

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

18 September 2017 - Monday

Mogadishu Book Fair | Prix Sade | New Quarterly Conversation

       Mogadishu Book Fair

       They just held the third Mogadishu Book Fair (13 through 15 September), and Reuters reports (here in The Nation (Pakistan)) that Somali book fair offers respite from bombs.
       Not much foreign involvement yet -- which isn't the worst thing ... -- but some good-sounding local activity.

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

       Prix Sade

       The prix Sade -- yes, as in the Marquis de Sade (whose The 120 Days of Sodom I recently reviewed ...) -- has announced its 2017 winner, and it's ...Gay Talese's The Voyeur's Motel (get your copy at or, which, honestly, is pretty disappointing.
       At least the first novel prize went to Raphaël Eymery's Pornarina: la prostituée-à-tête-de-cheval (see the DenoŽl publicity page), which definitely sounds a lot more like it.

       (The prix Sade at least has a bit of an internet presence -- not it's own site, but a Facebook page, and, yeah, no way am I going to link to that, but see the Livres Hebdo piece.)

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

       New Quarterly Conversation

       The Fall/2017 issue of the Quarterly Conversation is now available online, with the usual nice selection of coverage to keep you busy for a few days -- check it out.

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

17 September 2017 - Sunday

St. Francis College Literary Prize | Manu Joseph Q & A

       St. Francis College Literary Prize

       The biennial St. Francis College Literary Prize started in 2009 as a prize for an author's fourth book, but has since been expanded to consider any: "3rd to 5th published work of fiction" -- an expansion they might want to reconsider after apparently getting 187 entries (alas, not revealed ...) this year, 50 more than last time -- and way more than the Man Booker Prize is willing to consider .....
       The six-title shortlist this year included a book that has now also made the Man Booker shortlist (Mohsin Hamid's Exit West), but the 2017 winning title was Dana Spiotta's Innocents and Others; see the Scribner publicity page, or get your copy at or No word yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, Dana Spiotta Has Won a $50,000 Prize For Mid-Career Writers by Arianna Rebolini at BuzzFeed.
       (Note that the prize is (admirably) also willing to consider both self-published books and works in translation -- though it seems few translated works are submitted (Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat, a finalist in 2011 is an exception -- but I hope more publishers will look to submit in the future).

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

       Manu Joseph Q & A

       In The Hindu Tishani Doshi has From the flea market of frailties: an interview with Manu Joseph -- the author of The Illicit Happiness of Other People and Serious Men.
       His new book, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous, discussed here, is just out (in India ...); see the Harper Collins India publicity page.

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

16 September 2017 - Saturday

(American) National Book Awards longlists
Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature finalists
The Gourmet Club review

       (American) National Book Awards longlists

       They've now announced all the titles longlisted for this year's (American) National Book Awards, in all four categories (fiction, non, poetry, and 'young people's literature').
       The shortlists will be announced 4 October.

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

       Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the biennial Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, a leading Kenyan literary prize -- that admirably honors both books written in English as well as in Kiswahili.
       See also Joseph Ngunjiri reporting in the Daily Nation that Writers battle for Kenya's top literary prize.

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

       The Gourmet Club review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Sextet of stories by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, The Gourmet Club.
       Originally published in English in 2001, this has recently been re-issued by University of Michigan Press, and it was certainly worth resurrecting -- striking stuff.

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

15 September 2017 - Friday

Literary prizes: French longlists - Kobzar Literary Award shortlist

       Literary prizes: French longlists

       After the Gonourt and Renaudot, a whole flurry of other French literary prize longlists have appeared, including now:

        - the prix Médicis -- which has a French novel category, and a foreign category, but only announced the 14-strong French first selection, holding off with the foreign stuff until 26 September (apparently the judges needed more time to mull things over ?)
  • Best known (in the US/UK) author on the list: Chantal Thomas ?
  • Obligatory novel-with-a-real-person's-name-in-the-title: La disparition de Josef Mengele by Olivier Guez

        - the prix de Flore has announced a nine-title-longlist
  • Obligatory novel-with-a-real-person's-name-in-the-title: La disparition de Karen Carpenter by Clovis Goux
  • One-named author(s) on the list: Zarca ! (alas, without the exclamation point -- and, even more disappointingly, he goes by his full name on his Twitter feed)

        - the prix Femina also has both a French and a foreign category, and managed to get both shortlists out .... Interesting to see what foreign titles are attracting critical attention in France -- with quite a few translated from the English (and, indeed, somewhat disappointingly everything translated from European languages ...), and one title I have actually (just) reviewed, Christoph Ransmayr's Cox..

        - the Grand prix de littérature américaine -- in case you don't trust all those American literary prizes to tell you what's the best local stuff -- let the French decide !

       (All prize-links to the Livres Hebdo information pages -- because most of them don't have their own sites, sigh.)

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

       Literary prize: Kobzar Literary Award shortlist

       The biennial Kobzar™ Literary Award offers good prize money -- C$25,000 -- and an interesting purview, honoring: "contributions to Canadian literary arts through presentation of a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit".
       The 2018 prize has now announced the five-title-strong shortlist, four non-fiction titles and a poetry-volume. (Light on the fiction, alas.)
       The winner will only be announced in March, 2018.

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

14 September 2017 - Thursday

Man Booker Prize shortlist | Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist
Motoyuki Shibata Q & A | Cox review

       Man Booker Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction -- three US authors, three UK authors (and none of the titles under review at the complete review ...).
       (Ladbrokes offers odds on this, too -- and the George Saunders is the early heavy (2/1) betting favorite.)
       The winning title will be announced on 17 October.

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

       Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the debut Warwick Prize for Women in Translation
       The sixteen titles -- selected from (a mere, sigh) 58 eligible entries (which they admirably do reveal (as all literary prizes should, and the ridiculous Man Booker Prize doesn't ...) -- though they really should make this list much easier to find ...) -- make for an interesting mix. Since they have to be UK/Ireland published, quite a few aren't readily US-available (yet); I've only seen four of these, and reviewed just one: Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Tawada Yoko (though a review of the Kawakami will follow, eventually -- and some of these others, too, if I can get my hands on them).
       A shortlist should be announced: "in early October"; the winner, on 15 November.

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

       Motoyuki Shibata Q & A

       At the Words without Borders Daily weblog Susannah Greenblatt has An Interview with Motoyuki Shibata -- Japanese translator and editor in chief of Monkey Business.
       Good to hear:
WWB: When you're curating an issue, do you think a lot about what stories will be best received by Western audiences ?

MS: Actually, not very much. It's been my experience that no matter who the audience is, the most important thing is to do what I like. And to translate what I like.
       And among the authors he'd like to see translated is Furukawa Hideo -- "heís wilder than Murakami and takes more risks". Several of his books are already available in English, including Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure and Slow Boat, but as I've mentioned before, we're obviously still missing a lot -- check out some of the examples on the Furukawa-page at Books from Japan.

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

       Cox review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Christoph Ransmayr's Cox., oder Der Lauf der Zeit, forthcoming in English (eventually ...) from Seagull.

       It's an interesting variation on the (too-)popular trend of using actual people in works of fiction.

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

13 September 2017 - Wednesday

German Book Prize shortlist | Translator conversation

       German Book Prize shortlist

       A day ahead of the Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement the German imitation, the German Book Prize, announced its six finalists.
       Other books by two of the shortlisted authors are under review at the complete review -- Thomas Lehr (Nabokovs Katze) and Robert Menasse (Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle) -- but I haven't seen any of these yet.
       Also: a very impressive Suhrkamp showing -- half the shortlisted titles, and all of them published this month .....

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

       Translator conversation

       At Book Riot they have A Conversation Between Literary Translators Marian Schwartz and Nicky Harman -- translators from the Russian and Chinese, respectively, and both with big translations coming out from AmazonCrossing.
       Polina Dashkova's Madness Treads Lightly might be a bit unexpected for Schwartz -- though it's not her first translation for AmazonCrossing (see, e.g. Andrei Gelasimov's The Lying Year) -- but given that she's translated heavyweights including Mikhail Shishkin's Maidenhair and Olga Slavnikova's 2017 pretty much anything she's done seems at least worth a look. I have both this and the Jia Pingwa (which I'm very much looking forward to), and expect to get to both.

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

12 September 2017 - Tuesday

Windham-Campbell Festival | Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award
Indonesian literature | Elif Şafak Q & A | P.S. from Paris review

       Windham-Campbell Festival

       The Windham-Campbell Festival at Yale, at which they'll hand out the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, starts tomorrow and runs through Friday.
       With the Windham-Campbell Lecture to be delivered by Karl Ove Knausgård and a full, impressive programme it sounds very promising.

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

       Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

       The relatively new Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, a biennial author prize worth 500,000 Danish Kroner (over US$80,000), has had an ... uneven winner's list: Paulo Coelho is listed as the first winner (2007), though the award only really came into being in 2010, when J. K. Rowling took the prize; since then, it's been: Isabel Allende (2012), Salman Rushdie (2014), and Murakami Haruki (2016).
       They've now announced -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked -- that A.S.Byatt will receive the 2018 prize; see, for example, Stephen Gadd's report in The Copenhagen Post, AS Byatt scoops prestigious Danish literary prize.
       An author award that honors both Coelho and Byatt ... it's almost as bizarre as one that honors Bob Dylan and ... any living writer .....

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

       Indonesian literature

       In The Jakarta Post Dylan Amirio speaks with John McGlynn: The uphill climb for Indonesian literature -- focusing on the struggles (and great accomplishments) of the Lontar Foundation -- still my leading source of Indonesian fiction !

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

       Elif Şafak Q & A

       At DeutscheWelle Gero Schliess has a Q & A with Elif Safak: 'Erdogan is the most devisive politician in Turkey's modern history' (and, yes, the DW copy editor missed that headline misspelling ...).
       "These are liquid times", she notes (and, yes, the translators also maybe missed something there ...).

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

       P.S. from Paris review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marc Levy's P.S. from Paris.

       The movie-tie-in Just Like Heaven (starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, based on his novel originally titled If Only It Were True) presumably has done well, but Levy, one of the best-selling French authors of the past twenty years, doesn't really seem to have established a foothold in the US (despite living here ...). Now AmazonCrossing has taken him up, publishing this (in a translation by reasonably heavyweight translator Sam Taylor (whose other current release is, after all, Laurent Binet's The Seventh Function of Language)) as well as following up with All Those Things We Never Said (in a re-issue that presumably barely counts, since no one read it when it first came out in English ...) in November.
       Amazon sales-wise, it seems to be doing great -- but presumably it won't be as prominently available at most bookstores (even New York's great French bookstore appears to have the French edition in stock and in-store-available, but the English edition is 'Available: online only' ...).
       It will be interesting to see whether the move to AmazonCrossing can be the (English-language) career game-changer for him.

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

11 September 2017 - Monday

Nobel countdown | The Comely Cook review

       Nobel countdown

       That time of year approaches: perhaps in less than a month they'll be announcing the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017. And, hey, that should be of some interest, right ? After all, things can't go worse than they did last year, from the ridiculous choice they made to everything that happened (or, mostly, didn't) afterwards. Still, I'm finding it hard to work up much enthusiasm -- they blew up the prize last year, and I can't really figure out how to take it in any way seriously again. (Yes, it was silly before then, too, like all prizes, but at least predictably, mock-seriously silly; now ? they could give it to someone who works in finger-paints and I'd shrug.)
       Nevertheless, they (likely -- who knows how they might further distort the prize ...) will announce a winner on a Thursday in October; maybe the 5th, if not, then probably the 12th. (I can imagine some Swedish Academy infighting will again to lead to a later announcement date.)

       Early Nobel speculation information can be found at:        Last year's prize confirms that the betting sheets are still the most reliable guides to who might be in contention -- while all serious readers (and most less serious ones, like me) always dismissed Dylan, he always figured high in the betting, and it's now clear he was always in the running (though that still doesn't explain why -- why ? why ? why ?)
       So what do the early Ladbrokes odds suggest ? Margaret Atwood (66/1 at/near the close of betting last year; 6/1 now) -- because of her TV-tie-in success ? --, Claudio Magris (33/1 then; 10/1 now), and Yan Lianke (66/1 then; 14/1) are among the notably better-positioned from last year.
       One might also believe the Swedish Academy might be tempted to try course-correct (and appease those members who must still be livid over last year's selection -- and you know there are quite a few of them) with an ultra-'literary' choice -- a Krasznahorkai (20/1 -- odds unchanged from last year), for example
       I'll try to work up some enthusiasm and try to speculate who would be deserving -- though of course after 2016 the question becomes: who isn't ? and the answer is apparently: no one -- but the main contenders are pretty much the same as in years past, aren't they ?

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

       The Comely Cook review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikhail Chulkov's The Comely Cook.
       I came across mention of it in Viktor Shklovsky's Life of a Bishop's Assistant, and fortunately it has been recently translated into English, in Three Russian Tales of the Eighteenth Century, from Northern Illinois University Press -- and fortuitously I had a copy .....

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

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