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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 October 2018

21 October: NLNG Prizes | The Nameless Day review
22 October: Translations into/from German | Rasulo review
23 October: Reclam-Museum | The Supreme Orchestra review
24 October: Translation scrutiny | Sleep of Memory review
25 October: JCB Prize for Literature | Prix Femina finalists
26 October: New World Literature Today | New Orwell Prize | Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo
27 October: The Plot Against America reading | Diagram Prize shortlist | Books of the year ... | Виктор Вавич review
28 October: CWA Daggers | Translation from ... Czech to Hebrew
29 October: Crossword Book Award shortlists | Best Dutch sentence | Translating from ... Kashmiri | Checkpoint review
30 October: Tamazight support | Daša Drndić profile
31 October: Nordic Council Literature Prize | Louis Cha/Jin Yong (1924-2018) | Prix Goncourt finalists | Chad Post Q & A | The Enemy review

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31 October 2018 - Wednesday

Nordic Council Literature Prize | Louis Cha/Jin Yong (1924-2018)
Prix Goncourt finalists | Chad Post Q & A | The Enemy review

       Nordic Council Literature Prize

       They've announced that the 2018 Nordic Council Literature Prize goes to Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir.

       That's the ninth Nordic Council Literature Prize-winner under review at the complete review -- more than I have fiction-winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award, (American) National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize combined .....

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

       Louis Cha/Jin Yong (1924-2018)

       Bestselling Chinese author Louis Cha/Jin Yong has passed away; see, for example Foong Woei Wan's Obituary: Jin Yong fused martial arts fantasy, history and romance into must-read novels in The Straits Times.
       He was important enough to rate a mention in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction, though not enough of his work is available in English. MacLehose Press did bring out a translation of volume one of his Legends of the Condor Heroes-series earlier this year, A Hero Born -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at or -- but of course the set to get is Oxford University Press' The Deer and the Cauldron; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or

       (Updated - 1 November): See now also Jin Yong: The 'Tolkien of Chinese literature' dies at 94 at the BBC.

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

       Prix Goncourt finalists

       They've announced the four finalists for the Prix Goncourt, the biggest of the French book prizes; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       The winner will be announced 7 November.

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

       Chad Post Q & A

       Open Letter's Chad Post picked up the Words Without Borders Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature yesterday, and at Publishing Perspectives Porter Anderson has a Q & A with him, Ottaway Winner: Chad Post on Translation's 'Expanding Audience'.
       Chad says:
With so many new presses out there doing translations, and so many more options and ways of reaching different readerships, I think the audience is expanding at a steady clip. It also helps that there are so many new translators, new programs in translation, new journals and sites -- it's an exciting time to be involved in this part of publishing.
       I hope he's right about the audience expanding -- though certainly, as he notes, the offerings are, which is at least something.

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

       The Enemy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of another of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, The Enemy -- the best (of the small lot) I've read so far.

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

30 October 2018 - Tuesday

Tamazight support | Daša Drndić profile

       Tamazight support

       Great to see the Berber languages getting some greater attention: Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has announced that an Académie algérienne de la langue amazighe will be founded by the end of the year, while in Morocco (where apparently a mere two per cent of published books are in Berber) the annual Moroccan Book Prize was awarded in an Amazigh category for the first time (the prize shared by Sa iggura dar illis n tafukt (by Ayad Alahyane) and Askwti n tlkkawt (by Firas Fadmh)); see, for example, La création littéraire amazighe récompensée pour la première fois au Prix du Maroc du Livre.
       Now let's hope some appears in English translation as well .....

       Meanwhile, in the region, the Salon International du Livre d'Alger opened yesterday and runs through 10 November; it features several 'Grandes plumes de Chine' -- including Nobel laureate Mo Yan.

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

       Daša Drndić profile

       In The Calvert Journal Eileen Battersby profiles Daša Drndić: reflecting on the life and literature of Croatia’s most courageous writer -- author of Doppelgänger and Belladonna.

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

29 October 2018 - Monday

Crossword Book Award shortlists | Best Dutch sentence
Translating from ... Kashmiri | Checkpoint review

       Crossword Book Award shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for another of the big Indian literary awards, the Crossword Book Awards.
       The official site oddly only lists the 'Popular Shortlist' -- where you can vote for the winners in a variety of categories -- but, for example, see the report on the shortlist of the Crossword Book Jury Awards at for the finalists in the four juried categories.
       The translation category includes two translations apiece from Malayalam and Tamil, and one from Assamese.

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

       Best Dutch sentence

       They've announced the winner of the Tzum-prijs 2018, a Dutch prize for the best sentence from a book published in 2017; see, for example, the Dutch Foundation for Literature report, Pieter Waterdrinker wins prize for best sentence.
       The sentence is from his Tsjaikovskistraat 40, which is apparently being published in English by Scribe in 2020; it's one of quite a few from the novel that was nominated (the official site has all the nominated sentences) and is:
Zou deze stad op een andere breedtegraad liggen, in een ander landschap, met een andere stand van de zon, zonder de ellenlange grijze maanden van regen, mist en grauwheid, niet op deze schrale moerasgrond staan, in de bodem waarvan de botten liggen van de ontelbare stakkers die hun leven bij de bouw ervan hebben gelaten, maar op een rots, te midden van fraaie glooiende heuvels, met de zwartinkten silhouetten van olijfbomen en cipressen, dan zou Sint-Petersburg met zijn grande armée van mintgroene, zachtroze, bosbesrode en geel gesausde pleisterwerkgevels Florence met gemak naar de kroon steken.
       The payout isn't great, but it helps that it's a pretty long sentence: beside a trophy, the winner gets a euro for every word in the winning sentence -- 95, in this case.
       See also the previous winning sentences.

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

       Translating from ... Kashmiri

       Looks like a great new series at, 'a series of interviews featuring women translating texts from and into different languages', and the first entry is Niyati Bhat's Q & A, 'You have to be very humble': How Neerja Mattoo translates from Kashmiri to English.
What do you think about the current state of translation in Kashmir ?
I am not very happy.
       And then there's:
Have you read Ranjit Hoskote's translation of Lal Ded's verses ?
Oh, I have. It is a very beautifully brought out book but I am not happy with the translations. In fact, I met him once at some literary festival and I asked him how is it that he translated without knowing the language.
       So, yes, overall it sounds like there's definitely some work to be done regarding translation-from-Kashmiri.

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

       Checkpoint review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Albahari's Checkpoint, recently out in English from Restless Books.

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

28 October 2018 - Sunday

CWA Daggers | Translation from ... Czech to Hebrew

       CWA Daggers

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winners of the (UK-based) Crime Writers' Association 2018 CWA Daggers.
       Steve Cavanagh's The Liar -- the third in his Eddie Flynn-series -- took the 'Gold Dagger', while Henning Mankell's After the Fire won the International Dagger (for a translated work).

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

       Translation from ... Czech to Hebrew

       It's always interesting to hear about translation between smaller languages, and at Radio Praha David Vaughan has a Q & A with Pierre Pe'er Friedmann and the Challenges of Bringing Czech Writing to Readers in Israel.
       Pe'er Friedmann admits:
to say that Czech literature is being read in Israel is a bit of an overstatement and to say that it is being translated into Hebrew is an overstatement as well

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

27 October 2018 - Saturday

The Plot Against America reading | Diagram Prize shortlist
Books of the year ... | Виктор Вавич review

       The Plot Against America reading

       In New York, at the 92nd Street Y, they're holding a staged reading of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, tomorrow, 28 October at 13:00, with quite an impressive cast taking part:
The reading consists of three 90-minute acts with two intermissions. James Shapiro, the renowned Shakespeare scholar, assembled the abridgment. Arin Arbus will direct the reading.
       See also the Library of America report, A-list actors to bring Philip Roth's The Plot Against America to life onstage in New York

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

       Diagram Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Diagram Prize, awarded for "the book world's strangest and most perplexing titles".
       The usual entertaining selection -- though disappointing to see that none are from any of the leading traditional publishers (who are sticking to more boring and unimaginative titles ?).

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

       Books of the year ...

       Sure, it's only October and there are more than two months left in the year but, hey, if there are TV channels that have started their Countdown to Christmas why shouldn't publications start listing their books-of-the-year.
       First up: Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018.
       Many, many more of these will be appearing in the coming weeks.

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

       Виктор Вавич review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Boris Zhitkov's Виктор Вавич.
       Zhitkov was best known as an author of children's books -- many of which were translated -- but this epic didn't appear until more than sixty years after his death, in 1999 -- after a failed effort to publish it in 1941 (they printed it and everything, but things didn't work out). Translated into French and German in the early 2000s, it has been widely hailed as one of the most significant early Soviet works. It's heft, however, seems to have scared US/UK publishers off -- no English translation yet.

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

26 October 2018 - Friday

New World Literature Today | New Orwell Prize | Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo

       New World Literature Today

       The November-December issue of World Literature Today is now available, with some material on Alice Walker, Illness & Literature, and, as always, the book review section.
       There's also Mandakini Pachauri and Keija Parssinen's look at Playtime in Vienna: The Austrian Literary Scene Finds Its Sense of Humor. Among the amusing observations:
When asked which American writers the Viennese are reading, two people remarked on the popularity of the Beats (the Vienna Poetry School was modeled after the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado), and this year Vienna hosted the European Beat Studies Network Conference (Beats and Politics: Past and Present). At one point, George Saunders comes up, and our guest stares blankly at us; we're told that Austrian writers don't really read the Paris Review or the New Yorker.

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

       New Orwell Prize

       The Orwell Book Prize, a prize for both fiction and non, has now been split in two: they've announced a new Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, while the non-fiction award will be called the Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

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

       Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo

       In The Nation Ursula Lindsey writes on Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo, in The World of the Alley
       Mahofuz is the most-reviewed author at the complete review -- and yet there are so many more of his works I still have to get to .....

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

25 October 2018 - Thursday

JCB Prize for Literature | Prix Femina finalists

       JCB Prize for Literature

       The JCB Prize for Literature is a new prize for: "a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian author" and they've now announced the first winner -- a work in translation, no less, Jasmine Days, by Benyamin; see, for example, the report.
       There doesn't seem to be a US/UK publisher yet, but see the Juggernaut publicity page, or get your copy at or Meanwhile, his Goat Days is available, from Seagull Books.

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

       Prix Femina finalists

       As French prize-season heats up -- most will be announced in early November -- they've announced the finalists in the three categories of the prix Femina: French novel, foreign novel, and non-fiction; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Two of the seven foreign novel finalists are translations from the English (books by Alice McDermott and Gabriel Tallent).

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

24 October 2018 - Wednesday

Translation scrutiny | Sleep of Memory review

       Translation scrutiny

       At The New York Review of Books' Daily weblog Tim Parks makes the case for Why Translation Deserves Scrutiny, noting that the almost uncritical embrace of translation(s) -- as sometimes seems the case nowadays -- has significant drawbacks, and that there's room for a lot more discussion on the subject.
       (I'm still behind on my translation-books reviewing -- including This Little Art -- but look forward to eventually weighing in on much of this .....)

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

       Sleep of Memory review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Patrick Modiano's first post-Nobel novel, Sleep of Memory, just out in English in Yale University Press' Margellos World Republic of Letters.
       Post-Nobel it may be, but it is standard Modiano, covering familiar times and territories.
       See also translator Mark Polizzotti's piece on translating this at The Paris Review's Daily weblog, Simply Impossible.

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

23 October 2018 - Tuesday

Reclam-Museum | The Supreme Orchestra review


       Tomorrow is the grand opening of the Reclam-Museum in Leipzig -- dedicated to German publisher Reclam, founded in 1828 and best-known for their thousands of (truly-)pocket-sized yellow volumes of major works of world literature (extending also to philosophy and more).
       Okay, the museum looks ... small -- but it's still neat that they're doing something like this.
       See also, for example, a (German) Q & A with Hans-Jochen Marquardt, the initiator of the project, in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

       (Updated - 24 October): See now also Sertan Sanderson and Torsten Landsberg on how Leipzig museum tells story of Reclam's little yellow books at Deutsche Welle.

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

       The Supreme Orchestra review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Turgeon's The Supreme Orchestra, just out in English from Coach House Books.

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

22 October 2018 - Monday

Translations into/from German | Rasulo review

       Translations into/from German

       In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung they have a graphic page of some German reading- and publishing statistics.
       Some unsurprising results, such as that December is the most popular book-buying month, with 17.3 per cent of sales, and also some interesting translation graphs -- showing, for example, how dominant translations-from-English are among translations in German -- just shy of two-thirds !
       French is a distant second -- 11.5 per cent -- followed by Japanese at 6.2.
       As far as translations from German into other languages go: Chinese is way ahead (16.1 per cent), followed by Turkish and Spanish, with English only the seventh biggest market.
       Of course, the kind of books involved also matter -- and they only differentiate for translations from (not into) German: for example, kids' books make up a huge amount of the sales into Chinese (and Turkish). Counting only 'Belletristik' -- fiction, basically -- translations from the Italian comes out tops, and translations from English come in second, just ahead of French and Czech.
       Sometimes, one category totally dominates: looking at the 2016 numbers (the FAZ numbers appear to all be for 2017), translations from the Japanese into German made up a similar 6,3 per cent -- but manga account for almost all of those; there were only 22 Japanese 'Belletristik' titles translated, a feeble 0.6 per cent of all fiction titles translated into German .....

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

       Rasulo review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bora Ćosić's Rasulo -- just out in German, as Im Zustand stiller Auflösung, but, alas, not yet available in English.

       This one really is like a combination of Dubravka Ugrešić and Thomas Bernhard -- and this and more Ćosić deserves to be translated into English.

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

21 October 2018 - Sunday

NLNG Prizes | The Nameless Day review

       NLNG Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's NLNG Prizes -- the Nigeria Prize for Literature, for Literary Criticism, and for Science; see, for example, the Vanguard report.
       The literature prize rotates through four different genres and this was a drama year, and Soji Cole's Embers took the US$100,000 prize.
       The Literary Criticism Award only pays out 1,000,000 naira -- less than US$3000 -- and went to Isidore Diala -- a repeat winner.

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

       The Nameless Day review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Friedrich Ani's The Nameless Day -- crime fiction from Seagull Books.
       This was also made into a (TV-)film in 2017 -- directed by Volker Schlöndorff !

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

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