It's always interesting to see what texts composers pick for operatic treatment; Marcelo Figueras' Kamchatka was one I didn't see coming -- but here it is, by Daniel D'Adamo, with a libretto by the author.
The New York Opera Fest will present it 5 and 6 June.
Things are a bit slow at the complete review these days -- it'll be a few days before the next new review is posted -- as I am moving, and am currently consumed/overwhelmed by packing (i.e. packing books -- is there anything else ?).
It is not going well:
(Though, yes, admittedly this is what my ... living space usually looks like .....)
(No, I exaggerate -- there's (an astonishing amount of) flooring visible here, so it's not quite as cluttered as usual.)
At livemint Seema Chowdhry has a Q & A with Sheldon Pollock, the general editor of the Murty Classical Library of India.
There has been some controversy (in India) about a foreigner being in this position, but surely the results speak for themselves -- it's a great series (several titles of which are under review at the complete review, with more to follow).
Quite a bit of interest, including the observation that:
There is a kind of imperialism of English which is worrisome but it is extremely important to acknowledge it and live with.
I want every kid to do four years of a classical language, doesn't matter what it is.
It is a yoga, a very powerful yoga. It is a discipline of analytical thinking.
Paid sales from subscriptions and newsstand have been up 30 percent each of the past two years, from some 26,000 in 2016 to nearly 45,000 today.
(Well, impressive growth -- those totals are still rather disappointingly low.
Though I see that as a die-hard TLS-fan; I always forget that so few people really care about this stuff (though the complete review user stats should be a daily reminder ...).)
So they're awarding a 'Golden Man Booker Prize', celebrating yet another anniversary.
The gimmick this time: five judges each select one favorite winner from each decade in which the prize has been awarded to create a shortlist -- which they've now announced.
The five select titles are:
In a Free State, V.S.Naipaul (1971); selected by Robert McCrum
Moon Tiger, Penelope Lively (1987); selected by Lemn Sissay
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje (1992); selected by Kamila Shamsie
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (2009); selected by Simon Mayo
Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (2017); selected by Hollie McNish
It's an ... unusual list.
Most notable among the omissions is Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which has already won several of these 'best of the Booker'-things (presumably the reason it was left off, to give some other book a chance -- not that its 1980s replacement, Moon Tiger, stands much of a chance here).
Not the titles I would have chosen, but, hey, at least Simon Mayo didn't go for Vernon God Little ( or Life of Pi), so it's not nearly as terrible as it could have been.
Worryingly, the choice of who wins this thing is now left to 'the public', which has a month to vote on it.
The winner, inevitably chosen by Russian bots, will be announced 8 July.
In a Sverige Radiointerview Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten apparently reïterates what he already suggested in a Q & A at the official Nobel site last week -- that while the hope is the Swedish Academy gets its act together and announces both a 2018 and a 2019 winner next year, it's by no means a sure thing, and further delays are (distinct ?) possibilities:
The Swedish Academy's goal is to make its decision on the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature and to announce it together with the 2019 Prize.
We hope that this will be the case, but it depends on the Swedish Academy restoring its trust.
I'm kind of warming to the idea of this dragging on and them then announcing like five winners all at once, five years from now .....
They've announced that the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature will go to ... popular crime writer Fred Vargas.
(Only one title by Vargas is under review at the complete review -- Have Mercy on Us All -- though I've been meaning to get to more.)
The award -- until 2014 the Prince of Asturias' award, until he became King and handed off the prize(-name) to Leonor (currently: all of twelve ...) -- has honored some very fine writers, including Philip Roth (2012).
Vargas is an ... interesting choice.
OK, here's a prize that's almost fifty years old, pays out €200,000, and has honred, among others, Andrei Sakharov and Václav Havel, and writers such as Vargas Llosa and Modiano (both pre-Nobel), as well as Kundera, Borges, Kadare, and both Alejo and Alain Carpentier.
You'd figure it would have a higher profile than ... well, when was the last time you heard about the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca ?
They've now announced this year's winner -- not that I can find the information at the official site ..., but Livres Hebdo has us covered: it is Philippe Jaccottet.
Seagull Books has brought out several of his books; see, for example, the recent The Second Seedtime, translated by Tess Lewis; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've been awarding the Franz Kafka Prize, an international author-prize, since 2001 -- Philip Roth was the first winner -- and they've now announced that this year's winner is ... Ivan Wernisch; see, for example, the report at the Prague Daily Monitor, Czech poet Wernisch to receive Franz Kafka Prize this year
For all its international aspirations, the prize does seem to lean a bit to the hometown writers -- Wernisch is the fifth Czech winner, of eighteen awarded -- but it's hard to complain too much about the previous ones (Ivan Klíma, Arnošt Lustig, Václav Havel, and Daniela Hodrová), so he's probably worth checking out -- which is easier said than done in English: In the Puppet Gardens, published by Michigan Slavic Publications (!) looks to be the only vaguely available translated title; see the publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt "honors an outstanding work of contemporary international literature that has been translated into German for the first time" -- and pays out a tidy €20,000 for the author and €15,000 for the translator -- and they've now announced this year's shortlist of six titles; they include Virginie Despentes's Vernon Subutex (the English translation of which was a finalist for the recently announced Man Booker International Prize), Éric Vuillard's not-available-in-English-yet prix Goncourt winner, The Order of the Day, and, one of two translations-from-the-English, Eliot Weinberger's The Ghosts of Birds.
Always interesting to see what foreign literature is acclaimed in translation in other countries/cultures, and the ILP-HKW is one of the most impressive foreign translation prizes.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bernardo Atxaga's Nevada Days, which came out in the UK last year (from MacLehose), and which Graywolf Press will be releasing in the US this summer.
On the one hand: how awesome that this is translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
On the other: how disappointing that her translation is from the Spanish translation of the Basque original.
Yes, author Atxaga co-translated that, from the original Basque -- but still .....
Amaia Gabantxo's (paywalled) review of this in the Times Literary Supplement addresses this issue/question at length, noting: "Basque and Spanish are very different languages. Atxaga is a very different author in each one." and I agree emphatically with her:
I truly believe that direct translation from Basque into English would better serve Basque literature.
Lots of issues here, but let's face it: direct is the way to go, whenever at all possible (and there's no reason for it not to be possible, especially when we're talking about translation into the world's most popular language, English).
As widely noted, they've announced that this year's Man Booker International Prize goes to Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk, in Jennifer Croft's translation.
This book isn't US-available yet -- the Riverhead edition is coming out in August -- and I haven't seen it yet -- but I did first mention this title a decade (!) ago, when it won the biggest Polish literary prize the Nike (actually, I first mentioned it a month before that, when it was shortlisted for that award ...)
I hope to get to it once it reaches the US; meanwhile, see the Fitzcarraldo Editions publicity page, pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.
The BBC has an odd new list of The 100 stories that shaped the world -- whereby almost all the 'stories' are full-fledged books.
They invited: "108 critics, scholars and journalists from 38 countries" to each: "nominate up to five fictional stories they felt had shaped mindsets or influenced history" -- and admirably they do at least also show who these folks were, and who they nominated, here.
It's unclear what the exact instructions were -- name any five ? or the top five ? and "shaped mindsets or influenced history" makes for a pretty big field -- and the answers were all over the place (or, in many cases, limited to very specific places ...); perhaps the biggest surprise to me is that, despite several Chinese classics getting lots of (Chinese) support, The Story of the Stone (aka The Dream of the Red Chamber, etc.) didn't rate at all -- but then the question wasn't what's the best or most impressive work of fiction .....
They've announced the longlist for this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, and along with the latest works by Peter Carey and Michelle de Kretser, Gerald Murnane's Border Districts made the cut.
The shortlist will be announced 17 June.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Murata Sayaka's Akutagawa Prize-winning bestseller, Convenience Store Woman, due out in English shortly from Grove Press (US) and Portobello Books (UK).
Interesting title-variations among the translations -- the French simply went with the abbreviated Japanese word for convenience store from the original, Konbini; the Germans, without the convenience of convenience stores, with the reasonably fitting Die Ladenhüterin (essentially: 'the shopkeeper' (f)) -- but I have to say, I'm not entirely sure about the feel of the Italian: La ragazza del convenience store .....