So, in Malta they're trying really hard to make the works of Dun Karm Psaila (1871-1961; author of the Maltese national anthem, and with his own room at the Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral Museum) accessible to readers in other languages -- a matter of such significance to them that:
The pledge to have Psaila translated in five different languages was made in the Labour Party's electoral manifesto.
The biggest challenge for the National Book Council with regards to translations is that excluding the English language, there are "very few qualified translators who can translate from Maltese to other languages," [council chairman Mark] Camilleri said.
Indeed, they realize that:
If we fail to find people who can translate from Maltese to other languages, we will have to unfortunately resort to translating from the English bridge translation, however, this is an option which I am trying to avoid
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Adam Tooze on How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World, Crashed -- a rare non-translated work, of non-fiction no less, under review, and a book that's actually already (it's just out) getting a whole lot of review-attention.
At Qantara.de Elias Khoury salutes Al Aswany's courage, as he: 'pays tribute to Alaa Al Aswany's new novel as the only comprehensive literary chronicle of the January 2011 Egyptian revolution'.
The The Yacoubian Building-author's new novel is جمهورية كأن ('The So-called Republic'), which has been out in Arabic for a couple of months -- see also the Dar Al Adab publicity page --, but is not (yet) available in English.
"Al-Aswany's success is a positive reflection on our narrative literature", Khoury finds.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs 11 through 27 August and expects over 900 authors to appear -- but some of them apparently are having a harder time than others getting there, thanks to British Home Office issues, as, as for example Sian Cain reports in The Guardian, Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival.
No names, alas, and it's unclear whether any or how many authors would actually be prevented from appearing at the festival, but it's still disturbing.
Still, admirable of the Home Office to provide a means of festivals avoiding much of this hassle by getting themselves designated a permit free festival -- which, for some reason (?) the EIBF has not applied for ("Barley said that while the festival could apply to be added to the permit-free list, he hoped other festivals across the UK would come together to campaign for a new system" -- fair enough, but why not work the system that's in place currently while trying to change it ?).
They've announced that the €10,000 Hermann Kesten Award, presented by PEN Germany "for outstanding efforts in support of persecuted writers according to the principles of the Charter of PEN International", will go (on 15 November) to Gioconda Belli this year.
Several of her works have been translated into English; check out, for example, The Scroll of Seduction (even Entertainment Weeklyreviewed this, back in the day ("While the setup is a smidge hokey, once the alternating narratives are established the novel gallops along")) -- see the Harper Collins publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Given that the whole trilogy fits in and is published in one thin (147 page) volume in the English translation, even I would normally have just posted the one review -- but the three novellas were published separately, over quite a span (2007, 2012, and 2014), both in the original Norwegian as well as in other Scandinavian languages, and the French also published all three volumes separately, so there are actually a lot of reviews specific to each volume, so it seemed sensible and worthwhile to also offer separate review pages for each (as well as one for the whole thing ...).
Dalkey Archive Press brought this out in late 2016, and I'm pretty shocked and disappointed at how little coverage it has gotten in the US/UK (essentially none).
Fosse has been touted as a Nobel front-runner for a couple of years now, and he is one of the most widely performed living playwrights in the world (yeah, not in the US -- but come on, they're up to volume six of his plays in the Oberon Modern Playwrights series ...), and he's a truly significant author -- also (though this is obviously one of the problems with popularizing his work) because his work is so distinctive: there isn't much fiction like this being written nowadays.
Dalkey have done an incredible job bringing out quite a bit of his major work in recent years -- though that too may be part of the problem, too much available at once ...?
But maybe/hopefully it is just a question of a critical mass of his work being available and circulating before he finally really takes off in English .....
With Fitzcarraldo Editions now also jumping on board -- they published Scenes from a Childhood in the UK in May and it's coming to the US in November (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and they're committed to his larger-scale in-the-works Septology (see the Books from Norway information page), which could be his break-out work (?) -- maybe he'll actually catch on.
(Then again, Scenes from a Childhood hasn't exactly been showered with press coverage in the UK so far either .....)
He's certainly an author that should be more widely read and better known -- and from the sounds of it, given the (re-)use of names and places familiar from Trilogy in Septology, you probably want to check this one out before plunging into that one.
The Science Fiction Club Deutschland has announced this year's winners of the German Science Fiction Prize -- to be awarded 22 September -- and the award for best German science fiction novel will go to Marc-Uwe Kling's QualityLand.
This books has its own website, and there's also some English-language information about both author and book at his agent's site -- where the most interesting thing is where foreign rights to this have been sold to so far (though that 335,000 copies sold so far is also impressive).
No English language edition on the horizon yet (though the site notes, in bold type: "Complete English translation available") -- but publishers in Japan, Kuwait (!), and Turkey have it forthcoming; hardly the three languages I would have expected to be first up, translation-wise.
A fascinating piece -- with lots of great pictures -- at Scroll.in, as Tisha Mondal and Judy Luis-Watson report on Why the US government maintained records on Rabindranath Tagore -- and what they say (originally published at the National Archives' weblog).
Among the pictures: a 'Draft of President Kennedy's letter for the centenary celebration of Tagore's birth', and a: 'Memo concerning the need for the United States to position itself prominently in Tagore's centenary celebration'.
Those were the days .....
A decent but confusing variety of Tagore works are readily available in the US/UK -- a nice collected edition, or at least more uniform editions would be welcome/helpful.
Still, there are even a few Penguin Classics volumes -- get, for example, the Selected Short Stories at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The only Tagore under review at the complete review is Farewell my Friend, though I do hope to get to more.
These two 1950 books weren't his first published works, but the only earlier ones -- Mich wundert, daß ich so fröhlich bin and Das geheime Brot have been a bit more lasting; these two seem never to have been reprinted and are barely known.
Volumes in the Bären-Bücher novel-series (19 and 21), Worldcat doesn't even list any American library having a copy in their holdings (though an Australian library does have one of them ...); they're among the obscurest/rarest books I've reviewed at the site .....
Yet Simmel is one of the best selling German-writing authors of all times.
His books sold tens of millions, and topped the bestseller lists for months on end; I can recall in 1970s Austria it seemed every household had books of his lying around.
He was also reasonably well translated into English in the 1960s and 70s, though he never seemed to really break through (though several were reviewed in, for example, The New York Times Book Review).
The US editions are now all long out of print, but there are still a lot of copies floating around (get, for example, Double Agent - Triple Cross at Amazon.com).
He's no must-read great author, but he wrote a lot of very entertaining books -- higher caliber pop fiction, including some solid treatment of more serious themes, usually very capably dressed up as thrillers --, and I've read practically everything of his -- which is why I also have now gotten to these two hard to find apprentice works, and I'm not sorry I did.
(But, yes, you're not missing too much with these two.)
Nice to see some coverage of how Hindi writer Nirmal Verma's stories from the 1960s give us people in love with loneliness, in Oindrila Mukherjee's piece continuing a Scroll.in 'series on all-but-forgotten books with a journey through Verma's The World Elsewhere and Other Stories'.
This came out in a Readers International edition -- and even got a review in The New York Times Book Review (though Carolyn See had issues with the: "inept translations from several different persons, caught in the swinging doors of several national idioms, so that finally the language balks" ...) -- but Verma is definitely one of those significant authors that have slipped a bit through the cracks.
The triennial Ricarda Huch Prize has a decent winners list -- including Nobel laureates Herta Müller, way back in 1987, and Orhan Pamuk the year before he got the Nobel -- and they've now announced that this year's prize will go (on 3 October) to Ferdinand von Schirach.
Two of his books are under review at the complete review: The Collini Case and The Girl Who Wasn't There.
The Swedish Academy is currently embroiled in a far bigger and more institution-threatening crisis (see e.g. Andrew Brown's overview in The Guardian), but as far as their Nobel Prize-picking credibility goes (and let's face it, the fact that they pick the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is pretty much all anyone cares about) I still think they did the prize and themselves near irreparable harm with their ridiculous 2016 selection.
(Not that they haven't shown poor judgment on previous occasions -- including picking two of their own (though that was at least literarily more defensible), not to mention all the authors they've overlooked .....)
Sara Danius was permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy at the time -- running the Nobel show, and the one who got to make the (jaw-dropping) announcement -- and while she has since left the position and the Academy (as part of the institution's ongoing ex- and implosion), she played a major part in the whole Dylan-spectacular (and was the public face of the Academy while Dylan played them for fools).
Presumably in an attempt to defend, justify, and try to explain some of what happened, she's now gotten the jump on the journalists and scholars who want to write the definitive account of the farce that was -- not necessarily setting the record straight, but at least getting her spin out there first -- and written her very own book about it, Om Bob Dylan.
Apparently originally published in a private Swedish Academy edition this winter, a Christmas present handout they prepare but which was not publicly available, today the commercial edition is coming out, from prestigious Swedish publisher Albert Bonniers; see also their publicity page.
I'm guessing she treated the Academy deliberations as sacrosanctly inviolable (until the archives are opened, as is tradition, fifty years after the fact) -- it would have been (yet another) scandal if she hadn't -- , so there's probably little insight why they even started down this road (into the abyss ...) by making such a ridiculous selection, but apparently she does get into the whole comedy of errors that ensued (notably Dylan's ... recalcitrance about pretty much everything to do with the prize), as well as the media reactions, and she does try to make a case for why Dylan was deserving.
(One almost has to admire her and them for sticking to their guns, and not admitting they made a howler of a mistake -- almost ... if it weren't for just how terrible that mistake was.)
I do hope she mentions and reveals what she thought of this Dylan-cash-in (where they've now removed the part about charging US$2,500 a copy ...).
I hope the book does get picked up abroad -- I am rather curious about it (to the extent that I am almost tempted to seek out the Swedish version and bumble through that ...).
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize
All six titles are or will be US-available (the Daniel M. Davis and Hannah Fry are only due out in the fall, the Mark Miodownik only next February) -- but god forbid they'd be published under the same titles: Lucy Cooke's The Unexpected Truth About Animals is simply The Truth About Animals (don't want to throw anything unexpected at American readers !), Mark Miodownik's Liquid will be puffed up to Liquid Rules, and Simon Winchester's Exactly is The Perfectionists.
The winner will be announced 1 October.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hubert Haddad's Desirable Body, just about out in English in the Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters-series.
Fun premise: a man gets his head transplanted onto a new body.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lutz Seiler's Kruso, now out in a US edition too.
This came out from Australian publisher Scribe -- yet another instance of an Australian publisher taking the lead in translation, as has been happening more often in recent years -- but they've had a UK presence for a while, and now also some US distribution.
But this book, which has been out for a couple of weeks in the US now, has gotten terribly little attention here (and not that much in the UK either).
This despite it having won the German Book Prize !
Okay, the German Book Prize winners don't seem to have the greatest in-English track record, but still, it was widely praised and a great success in Germany, and it's a good and fairly significant book.
What gives ?
(When I posted the review yesterday, the German edition actually had a better Amazon.com sales rank (1,445,088) than the English US edition (1,756,479) .....)
For all the apparent greater interest in works in translation, I'm still astonished how many of the significant works that I cover (and the many more that I too can't get to ...) get little or no American print-media notice, with the online community only picking up some of the slack.
The 80 participants at the event consisted of academics, authors, editors, librarians, teachers, volunteers and students who over the two days translated 60 children's books.
They will now be available at the impressive Let's Read ! site, a: 'Digital library of children's books from around the world', available in a variety of languages.
See also the Asia Foundation information page.