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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 February 2018

1 February: National Book Award for Translated Literature | Dumbarton Oaks site
2 February: Publishing in ... Egypt | Victorian Premier's Literary Awards | Dylan Thomas Prize longlist | Read Russia Prize finalists
3 February: Premio Alfaguara | Mekong Review Q & A | Greetings From Angelus review
4 February: Icelandic Literary Prize | Transit Books profile | Publishing in ... Afghanistan
5 February: Prix des libraires du Québec finalists | Translation in ... Pakistan | Hotel Silence review
6 February: EBRD Literature Prize shortlist | Libris Literatuurprijs longlist | French Voices Award | The Eye of the Beholder review
7 February: (Not) reading in ... South Korea | PEN America Lifetime and Career Achievement Honorees | Litprom German translation funding | Le prix Russophonie
8 February: NEA grants | Erotic Poems from the Sanskrit review
9 February: Literary prize longlists: Leipzig Book Prize - Wellcome Prize - Stella Prize
10 February: Keshiki profile | Translation in ... India | Murakami in China

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10 February 2018 - Saturday

Keshiki profile | Translation in ... India | Murakami in China

       Keshiki profile

       In Metropolis Clara Kumagai profiles Strangers Press' beautiful little Keshiki-series, in two parts: The Translators and The Writers.

       I have this lovely set, and two of the titles are under review at the complete review: Mikumari by Kubo Misumi and The Transparent Labyrinth by Hirano Keiichirō -- with more to come soon, as several of these pair nicely with other releases by the authors this spring and summer -- notably Tawada Yoko and Ono Masatsugu.

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

       Translation in ... India

       In an IANS report finding Major focus on translations among publishing houses in India (here at the Business Standard) Saket Suman reports that:
Translations of major literary works from various Indian languages into English have come to the fore in recent years with leading Indian and multinational publishing houses dedicating separate teams and resources to focus on the area. The warmth with which the readers have accepted translations has only propelled this push further as the focus on translations in 2018 seems to be at an all time high.
       Sounds promising !
       The four-volume set of The Complete Short Stories by Premchand -- "a monumental project involving 70 translators, which brings together every short story Premchand ever wrote in a box set", from Penguin India, certainly sounds pretty neat; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Meanwhile HarperCollins India's dedicated imprint for translations, Harper Perennial, celebrates its tenth anniversary -- including with special editions of ten works; see the Harper Broadcast Cover story: Here's the design thinking that went into Harper Perennial's ten special editions (which includes a list of the titles -- two of which are under review at the complete review: Bhima: Lone Warrior by M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag). I'm looking forward to seeing more of these !
       And, as long as they're working on it, good to hear that:
However, almost every leading publisher that IANS spoke to said that there's a vast ocean of stories in Indian languages that are yet to be translated into English and made available to a wider spectrum of readers, in India and abroad.

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

       Murakami in China

       Murakami Haruki's Killing Commendatore is only coming out in English in the fall (pre-order the UK copy from; no US listing so far), but it's already out in translation in quite a few countries -- including now China, as Xinhua reports in Murakami's book on Nanjing Massacre printed in China.
       It's unclear whether Chinese publishers are as ... creative in reporting initial print run numbers as American publishers are, but the 700,000 copies reported here is, even if somewhat embellished, impressive. I don't think the US first printing will be anywhere close.

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

9 February 2018 - Friday

Literary prize longlists: Leipzig Book Prize - Wellcome Prize - Stella Prize

       Literary prize longlists: Leipzig Book Prize

       The two big German book- (as opposed to the more widespread author-) prizes are the relatively new German Book Prize (awarded in the fall, at the Frankfurt Book Fair), and the Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse, awarded in the spring, at the Leipzig Book Fair. The German Book Prize is, like the Man Booker a one-category novel prize; the Leipzig prize has three categories -- fiction, non, and translation, and they've just announced the finalists for this years prize, five titles in each category.
       You might recognize the name of one of the authors with a novel in contention -- but not as a novelist: yes, US-born Isabel Fargo Cole, who has published numerous translations of works by authors such as Wolfgang Hilbig, Klaus Hoffer, and Franz Fühmann has written a prize-contending 500-page novel in German, Die grüne Grenze; see also the (German) publicity page at Edition Nautilus.
       Meanwhile, the translation category includes two translations-from-the English: Robin Detje's of Joshua Cohen's Book of Numbers and Michael Walter's 1952-page, three-volume collected works of Laurence Sterne -- more than is readily available in English ? see the Galiani publicity page. Other contenders are a Viktor Shklovsky-translation, and the latest by Voroshilovgrad-author Serhiy Zhadan.
       The winners will be announced 15 March.

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

       Literary prize longlist: Wellcome Prize

       The Wellcome Book Prize, awarded for a book -- fiction or non -- that has: "a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness", has announced its twelve-title strong longlist.
       I haven't seen any of these, though I expect to get to the Han Kang when it becomes US-available.
       The shortlist will be announced 20 March, and the winner on 30 April.

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

       Literary prize longlist: Stella Prize

       They've announced the twelve-title-strong longlist for the 2018 Stella Prize, for which both fiction and non by Australian women authors is eligible.
       I haven't seen any of these either, but certainly some interesting-sounding titles here.

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

8 February 2018 - Thursday

NEA grants | Erotic Poems from the Sanskrit review

       NEA grants

       The American National Endowment for the Arts is a favorite target of many US politicians, who would like to do away with it completely, but for the time being it is still going strong -- and yesterday announced $25 Million in Grants Support Art Projects Nationwide.
       Of this, 48 grants went to literary organizations, who received a total of $1,100,000; you can find the full list of who got how much here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !). Good to see quite a few specifically translation-focused institutions among them, including publishers like Archipelago Books, Open Letter Books, Ugly Duckling Presse, and White Pine Press (along with many other worthy, more generally-focused publishers), as well as publications/institutions such as the Center for the Art of Translation and Words without Borders.

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

       Erotic Poems from the Sanskrit review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of An Anthology edited and translated by R. Parthasarathy, of Erotic Poems from the Sanskrit, recently out from Columbia University Press.

       Not all of the poetry is particularly erotic -- including one of the best little verses, by Māgha:
Did grammar ever feed the hungry ?
Did the nectar of poetry ever quench anyone's thirst ?
No one can raise a family on book learning.
Make your pile and screw the arts.
       There you go ! Even in the seventh century, Māgha knew ....

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

7 February 2018 - Wednesday

(Not) reading in ... South Korea
PEN America Lifetime and Career Achievement Honorees
Litprom German translation funding | Le prix Russophonie

       (Not) reading in ... South Korea

       In The Korea Times Jung Min-ho reports on the latest figures -- and they're not good: 40% of Korean adults didn't read a book last year.
       The trend isn't good either -- yes: "59.9 percent of adults said they had read at least one book in the past year", but that is down 5.4 percent from the previous year.
       Worse yet:
Also, a growing number of people think it is unnecessary to read books. Only 59 percent said they did not read as much as they should have, compared with 74.5 percent in 2011.
       But maybe the younger generation will eventually change the trend -- 91.7 percent of "underage students" read at least one book last year.

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

       PEN America Lifetime and Career Achievement Honorees

       They've announced the 2018 PEN America Lifetime and Career Achievement Honorees (to be awarded 20 February).
       Among the categories is the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, which goes to Edna O'Brien, and the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, which goes to Barbara Harshav.

       None of O'Brien's books are under review at the complete review at this time (though I have quite a few); the only Harshav translation under review is that of Pascal Mercier's Night Train to Lisbon (about which Liesl Schillinger wrote in The New York Times Book Review: "Mercier’s wording is so dense and overwrought, and Barbara Harshav’s translation so ham-handed, that unpacking each sentence is like decoding a cryptic crossword in hieroglyphs" ...).

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

       Litprom German translation funding

       Litprom is a German organization supporting literature from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and twice a year they award translation subsidies to German-language publishers for (German) translations of books from these areas.
       Always interesting to see who is getting translated (and subsidized) in other countries, and the latest batch includes works by several authors who also already been translated into English -- Khaled Khalifa and Mahi Binebine, for example. Nice to see also things like an anthology of six Cuban get support.

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

       Le prix Russophonie

       The Read Russia Prize is for the best translation of a Russian work into English, but there's also a Prix Russophonie, for the best translation of a Russian work into French, and they've just announced this year's winner -- Yvan Mignot, for his translation of 1,150 pages of Velimir Khlebnikov, Œuvres: 1919-1922 (from Verdier; see their publicity page). No word yet at the (apparently) official site, but see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.

       I know we're pretty well covered with the three-volume Paul Schmidt-translated collected works from Harvard University Press -- particularly volumes two (Prose, Plays and Supersagas; see the publicity page, or get your copy at or and three (Selected Poems; see the publicity page, or get your copy at or, but I'm still kind of jealous.

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

6 February 2018 - Tuesday

EBRD Literature Prize shortlist | Libris Literatuurprijs longlist
French Voices Award | The Eye of the Beholder review

       EBRD Literature Prize shortlist

       The EBRD Literature Prize is a new literary prize funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and is for: "a translated work of literary fiction written originally in any language from an EBRD country of operations and published by a UK publisher" and paying out a nice €20,000 (divided equally between author and translator), and they've now announced their six-title shortlist.
       The 'country of operations'-scope is a somewhat odd one, given their countries of operation -- almost forty, apparently, heavy on the former Soviet and Soviet-sphere nations, but also some along Mediterranean (and Jordan, too). Certainly an under-served area, though disappointingly there were no shortlisted titles from Central Asia or the Caucasus (but at least the shortlist also wasn't Russian-dominated, as one might imagine could easily happen).
       Helpfully, they also now reveal the longlist (oddly only revealing it now, at the same time as they reveal the shortlist ....); disappointingly, they don't reveal the full list of submitted eligible titles.
       Only one of the shortlisted titles is under review at the complete review -- Celia Hawkesworth's translation of Daša Drndic's very impressive Belladonna.
       There's apparently another round to go -- three finalists will be announced "in early March", while the winning title will be revealed 10 April.

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

       Libris Literatuurprijs longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the Libris Literatuurprijs, a leading Dutch literary prize that pays out a tidy €50,000 to the winner.
       Familiar-to-English-speaking-reader authors who made the cut include La Superba-author Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (for the promising-sounding Peachez. een romance; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page) and Joe Speedboat-author Tommy Wieringa
       The shortlist will be announced 5 March.

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

       French Voices Award

       I seem to have completely missed all the announcements about this, but apparently they announced the fifteen French Voices Award 2017 grantees a while ago, and yesterday they announced the winning title -- Alexia Trigo's translation of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr's Terre Ceinte (still "seeking an American publisher"; see also the Présence Africaine publicity page).

       Quite a few non-fiction works among the other finalists, but the one that most stood out (just from the descriptions -- I haven't seen any of these) -- and not in a great way -- is Martin Page's L'Apiculture selon Samuel Beckett. Hmmmm. See the Starling Bureau information page .....
       The fact that this is the Martin Page who wrote The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection and How I Became Stupid does not reassure me. I wonder what the Beckett-estate had to say about this.

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

       The Eye of the Beholder review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marc Behm's The Eye of the Beholder.

       This strange but intriguing thriller has been filmed twice -- quite successfully, by Claude Miller, in 1983, as Mortelle randonnée, starring Michel Serrault and Isabelle Adjani, and notoriously badly as Eye of the Beholder in 1999, by Stephan Elliott, starring Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd.
       Arcadia Books are the most recent publishers to re-issue it, so it's actually readily available again, but to get my hands on it I actually made a (for me) rare online purchase of a used copy, of the three-in-one Zomba Books volume, in their short-lived, much-missed 'Black Box Thrillers'-series:

3 Novels - Marc Behm

       Maxim Jakubowski was the general editor of this series (i.e.: enough said), and back in the day the Jim Thompson and Cornell Woolrich four-in-ones were my introductions to those two authors; I'm not usually a fan of multiple-novel collections, but I do retain a soft spot for this series, with its good small selection of not-quite-so-well-known authors.
       I'd never come across this particular volume, so I was glad to pick it up, fairly reasonably priced -- the equivalent of the original list price, as it happens -- and despite only a 'fair'-condition description, the volume is unmarked and in no worse shape than many of my much-read volumes; a worthwhile acquisition.

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

5 February 2018 - Monday

Prix des libraires du Québec finalists | Translation in ... Pakistan
Hotel Silence review

       Prix des libraires du Québec finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2018 Prix des libraires du Québec, in six categories: non-fiction, poetry, bande dessinée (comic books; two categories: local and 'hors Québec'), and novel (also two categories: local and 'hors Québec').
       Always interesting to see what some of the leading French-Canadian titles are. The 'beyond Quebec'-fiction category is also an interesting one, since it's not limited to locally published books, or translated works. (The one finalist under review at the complete review is in this category, Jan Kjærstad's impressive The Seducer.)

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

       Translation in ... Pakistan

       Syed Kashif Raza's Lost and Found in Translation in Newsline does offer some examples of what has been, and is, being translated into Urdu, but isn't really an in-depth look. Still, it includes the observation that copyright (and adherence to it) is an issue:
It is high time Pakistanís publishing industry began to operate within the framework of copyright laws.
       And one has to like the inspiring challenge:
There is a new generation of readers in Pakistan, which is tech-savvy and gets information about any new book through social media. It is now their turn to step up to the plate and translate works of fiction.

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

       Hotel Silence review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's Icelandic Literary Prize-winning novel, Hotel Silence, just out from Black Cat/Grove Press in the US and almost out from Pushkin Press in the UK.

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

4 February 2018 - Sunday

Icelandic Literary Prize | Transit Books profile | Publishing in ... Afghanistan

       Icelandic Literary Prize

       They've announced the winners of the 2017 Icelandic Literary Prize, with Elín, ýmislegt, by Kristín Eiríksdóttir, taking the fiction prize; see, for example, the Icelandic Literature Center report, The Icelandic Literary Prize 2017 presented by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Icelandic Literary Prize awarded in the Iceland Monitor; see also the Forlagið information page about the novel.
       The prize money is an impressive-sounding ISK 1 million, but, yeah, that apparently only works out to US$ 9,900. Which still isn't too bad.

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

       Transit Books profile

       In the San Francisco Chronicle Brandon Yu profiles new publisher Transit Books and publishers Adam and Ashley Nelson Levy, in Bay Area and beyond: Oakland publisher Transit Books brings foreign voices to U.S..
       Their first books are indeed impressive -- though Andrés Barba's Such Small Hands is the only one under review at the complete review so far.

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

       Publishing in ... Afghanistan

       In The New York Times Rod Nordland and Fahim Abed report that Most Afghans Can't Read, but Their Book Trade Is Booming, as, uh,: "In a turbulent, troubled society, curling up with a book has become the best tonic around".
       Which is ... heartening ?
       Certainly, it's great to hear that:
In the past year, especially, many publishers have been expanding, opening up distribution centers across the country and underwriting either their own bookstores or providing consignments to independent bookstores. Kabul has 60 registered bookstores, according to the government.
       And, wow:
The Aazem company is publishing books as fast as it can, limited only by a shortage of qualified translators from English into local languages. Aazem’s 2017-18 goal is to print three new titles a day, 1,100 a year — a huge number for any publisher.

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

3 February 2018 - Saturday

Premio Alfaguara | Mekong Review Q & A
Greetings From Angelus review

       Premio Alfaguara

       The Premio Alfaguara is yet another very cash-rich Spanish-language fiction prize (which even pegs its payout in US dollars (175,000)), and they've now announced that Una novela criminal, by Jorge Volpi, has taken this year's prize, selected from 580 entries (led by 261 from Spain and 88 from Argentina -- but also with 45 from the US); see, for example, the El País report. (Yes, it's been several days, but I haven't seen a single English-language report yet.)
       The novel is based on actual events -- yes, another one of those .....
       The only Volpi title under review at the complete review is Season of Ash.

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

       Mekong Review Q & A

       In the Khmer Times Eileen McCormick has a Q & A with Minh Bui Jones, the founding editor and publisher of the Mekong Review, "a quarterly literary journal publishing fiction, essays, reviews and poetry from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia".

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

       Greetings From Angelus review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the bilingual collection of Gershom Scholem's poetry, Greetings From Angelus, coming from Archipelago Books.

       This is a revised edition of The Fullness of Time, which Ibis Editions brought out in 2003 (with a new Afterword by translator Richard Sieburth) -- but I assume you didn't get a copy of that one, so .....

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

2 February 2018 - Friday

Publishing in ... Egypt | Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
Dylan Thomas Prize longlist | Read Russia Prize finalists

       Publishing in ... Egypt

       In Al-Ahram Weekly 'Nahed Nasr queries some of the city's emerging publishers on their survival strategies' in Cairo, in Off the bestseller track.
       Among the issues publishers cite is: "the lack of a readership", but distribution difficulties seem to be seen as the biggest problem.
       Meanwhile, in The National Heba El Sherif looks at The most-anticipated Egyptian novels: A day at the Cairo book fair.

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

       Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

       In Australia, they've announced the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, with awards in six categories plus a grand prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature; The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein took that and the Prize for Non-Fiction. US and UK editions are coming out this spring; pre-roder your copy at or
       The Prize for Fiction went to Australia Day, by Melanie Cheng; see the Text publicity page.

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

       Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the (semi-)International Dylan Thomas Prize -- 'semi' because it is limited to a: "literary work in the English language". It is also only for young authors -- aged 39 or under.
       The six-title shortlist will be announced: "at the end of March", the winner on 10 May.

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

       Read Russia Prize finalists

       They've announced the four finalists for the 2018 Read Russia Prize, "celebrating the best translation of Russian literature into English" -- and they include Thomas J. Kitson's translation of Iliazd's Rapture and Yuri Machkasov's translation of Mariam Petrosyan's The Gray House.
       The winning title will be announced 12 April.

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

1 February 2018 - Thursday

National Book Award for Translated Literature | Dumbarton Oaks site

       National Book Award for Translated Literature

       The (American) National Book Foundation has announced that they're adding a fifth prize to the current four, an Award for Translated Literature. Author and translator must be living "at the beginning of the awards cycle" (different from, for example, the deceased-welcoming Best Translated Book Award), but there are no citizenship requirements (except for US publication). Publishers can -- and should ! -- start submitting, as for all the categories, on 7 March.

       The National Book Awards had a translation category from 1967 to 1983, so it's not quite right that this: "new category marks a radical departure for awards", as Alexandra Alter writes in her report on The Globalization of the National Book Awards in The New York Times. They also had a very impressive range of winners, beginning with Gregory Rabassa for his translation of Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch and extending as far as John E. Woods' translation of Arno Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold. The new incarnation apparently only considers fiction and non-fiction (winners of the old one included works of poetry and drama), and the living-author requirement also makes for a smaller pool (some two-thirds of the 1967-1983 winners were translations of works by dead authors ...), so this one will be hard-pressed to reward quite such an impressive variety, but even within their criteria there is quite a lot to choose from.
       The BTBA and the PEN Translation Prize are the most notable of quite a few US translation prizes, but this one obviously immediately has the potential to have a great(er) impact. Can't wait to see who makes the longlist (to be announced 10 September).

       (Updated - 7 February): See now also the Q & A at the Words Without Borders Daily weblog, Lisa Lucas on the National Book Award for Translated Literature.

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

       Dumbarton Oaks site

       Nice to see a dedicated site for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library-series, the great Harvard University Press "facing-page translation series designed to make written achievements of medieval and Byzantine culture available to both scholars and general readers in the English-speaking world"; see also the convenient list of publications here.
       I have quite a few of these, and have been woefully remiss in providing proper coverage -- they really are impressive, and include quite afew fascinating (and significant) volumes. Worth a closer look.

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

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