They've announced the five finalists for this year's RBC Taylor Prize, a Canadian prize awarded: "to enhance public appreciation for the genre known as literary non-fiction".
The winner will be announced 4 March.
They've announced the winners (and finalists) for the 2018 National Jewish Book Awards, which has quite a few categories.
Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld -- a work in translation -- was named the Jewish Book of the Year, while Michael David Lukas' The Last Watchman of Old Cairo won the Fiction category.
There's also an award, the 'Paper Brigade for New Israeli Fiction', for an untranslated work.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kitakata Kenzo's City of Refuge.
Vertical brought this out in 2012 -- one of four of his titles they've published in English (all are under review at the complete review) -- and I'm surprised he hasn't caught on at least a bit more in English.
They've announced the longlist for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction, sixteen novels selected from 134 entries.
Six authors have previously been longlisted for the prize, and nine countries are represented (including Eritrea, by Huji Jaber).
A six-title shortlist will be announced on 5 February, while the winner will be announced 23 April.
The Whitbread Costa Book Awards have announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the five category-winners -- First Novel (The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (published in the US as The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ...)), Novel (Normal People by Sally Rooney), Biography, Poetry, and Children's.
See also, for example, Alison Flood's overview in The Guardian, Costa first novel award winner recalls 'awful' time writing his book.
These five now compete head-to-head, the winner to be named, on 29 January, the Costa Book of the Year.
Lem is one of those authors where I read practically everything that was available (mainly in German translation, in which a lot more was available) before I started the site -- close to forty books, and over ten thousand pages worth -- which is why there are no reviews up beyond Peter Swirski's A Stanislaw Lem Reader, but he's certainly an author I'd like to revisit (including the English translation of his Summa Technologiae, and of course the wonderful fictional book review volume, A Perfect Vacuum).
The science fiction index was the only new one in the top ten (with German dropping out, to eleventh place); the erotic index leapt to the top spot.
The most popular author-(last-)name indices were: m (again by a large margin); s; b; a; and c.
These top five were the same as last year -- though s moved up in the rankings.
I received 384 review copies, down yet again (2.8%) from the 395 received last year, and the fewest since 2006, continuing the longterm trend.
An address-change during the course of the year might have contributed to the decline -- more books lost along the way than usual -- but seems to have gone quite smoothly, so I'm a bit surprised by how relatively little I received.
The leading providers of review copies were the usual suspects -- led by:
1. New York Review Books (23)
2. Other Press (17)
3. Dalkey Archive Press (16)
4. Harvard University Press (15)
5. New Directions (14)
6. Europa Editions (13)
-. Seagull Books (13)
8. Archipelago (10)
-. Columbia University Press (10)
-. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (10)
-. Oneworld (10)
-. Oxford University Press (10)
-. Vintage (10)
As of 31 December 2018 I had reviewed 101 (26.30% of all review copies received, and accounting for 46.54% of all titles reviewed) of the titles acquired this way (i.e. not including library or bought books, etc.), a higher rate than usual.
Books originally written in 44 languages (up from 35 in 2017) were reviewed -- an even wider variety than usual.
French narrowly beat out English, with Norwegian doing particularly well (despite only one Knausgaard and one Solstad getting reviewed over the course of the year).
The top eleven languages were:
1. French 37 (17.05% of all books) (2017: 39/19.21%)
2. English 35 (2017: 40)
3. Japanese 22 (26)
4. German 17 (9)
5. Norwegian 13 (4)
-. Spanish 13
7. Italian 7
-. Korean 7
-. Russian 7
10. Dutch 5
-. Serbian/Croatian 5
Counting countries is a bit less useful, since they change (and occasionally disappear) over the decades and centuries, but books by authors from 54 countries were reviewed (2017: 51), the top eleven being:
1. France 28 (2017: 27.5)
2. Japan 22
3. Norway 14
4. UK 13
5. Argentina 11
-. US 11
7. India 9
8. Germany 7
-. Yugoslavia 7
10. Austria 6
-. Italy 6
Fiction was, as always, dominant: 170 of the reviews were of novels, along with reviews of three novellas and eight story-collections.
Fifteen works were of general non-fiction, along with two biographies, three autobiographies, and one travelogue.
Six poetry collections and five dramas were reviewed.
Recent publications again dominated, with 14 works originally published (in the language they were written in, not the English translation) in 2018, with a dozen or more each 2014-2017.
For the second year in a row, the 1980s were a markedly unpopular decade, while quite a bit from the 1970s was reviewed:
Four titles from the nineteenth century were reviewed, as well as five from earlier than that.
The ratio of male-to-female authors continued near the terrible historical average, with only 17.51% of titles by women (38).
In 2017 six titles were graded 'A', while in 2018 one was graded 'A+' (An Accidental Man, by Iris Murdoch), and two were graded 'A':
Books reviewed ranged in length from 33 to 1152 pages (2017: 30/1653).
Sixteen titles were over 500 pages long (2017: 12), and fifteen were less than 100 pages long (2017: 18); five were actually under 50 pages long (2017: 7).
The total number of pages reviewed was up considerably, to 56,101 (compared to 50,657 in 2017), as the average reviewed book had 258.53 pages (median: 220).
The length of the average review increased significantly, to 1167.76 words (2017: 961.02 words), and the reviews posted in 2018 totaled a pretty staggering 253,405 words, almost 60,000 (!) more than in 2017 (195,088).
The longest review was 4040 words long, two more were over 3000 words, and twelve more over 2000; only four were under 500 words (2017: 10).
Disappointingly, site traffic as a whole continued to decline, down a rather worrying -9.33% compared to 2017, though the decline was almost entirely in the first half of the year, stabilizing in the second half.
The top countries from which more visitors came were Italy (12.; +3.10%), Ukraine, (25.; +92.73%), and Bangladesh (37.; +15.46%).
There were visitors from 220 countries and territories in 2018 (2017: 226).
There was traffic from two countries/territories from which there hadn't been any in 2017 -- Western Sahara and St. Barthélemy -- while nine from which there had been traffic in 2017 were not represented (Åland Islands, Dominica, Guinea-Bissau, St. Martin, Norfolk Island, Nauru, São Tomé & Príncipe, Tonga, and the British Virgin Islands).
The countries from which the most traffic came were:
United States (33.17%; 2017: 37.12%)
United Kingdom (7.91%)
Nigeria narrowly moved ahead of Australia, while South Africa made it into the top ten, displacing France.
Visitors to the site still overwhelmingly reach it via search-queries -- and Google search queries at that (Bing, DuckDuckGo, and anything else are barely a trickle compared to the Google flood) -- while outside site-referrals continue to depressingly barely rate a mention.
Users acessed the device from a variety of platforms:
(Presumably one of the reasons for the site's decline in popularity is that it isn't particularly mobile/tablet friendly while there has been an enormous shift to internet-use such devices.
(The content and what is presented at the complete review doesn't readily lend itself to more mobile-friendly formatting, so this will likely continue to be an issue.))
There was only one title which a significant number (i.e. dozens+) of copies were purchased by users via the Amazon links on the review-pages -- Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries -- though several other titles did sell a decent number of copies, including highly-rated Iris Murdoch's An Accidental Man and Carlos Rojas' The Valley of the Fallen, as well as Gerald Murnane's Border Districts.
I suppose that in the case of the Johnson and the Rojas, attention to them at the site may have had at least a small impact on overall interest/sales, but those seem to be the only two titles for which that could be said in 2018.
Content-wise, the year was fairly satisfactory.
Obviously there are areas in which it would be nice to see increased coverage -- of books in certain languages; books by women (and by authors in quite a few other categories ...); certain genres; certain (older) time-periods -- but on the whole the spread was fairly good this year, and the coverage even more extensive than usual.
Areas in which I hope to specifically increase coverage are drama and -- really ! -- English-language fiction, which I really feel has been getting increasingly neglected hereabouts, especially contemporary stuff (I look at the best-of-the-year lists that come out from the major publications and am astonished how few of these books I've even seen, much less looked at).
On the other hand, I would love to never touch a story-collection again -- even as two of the first three books reviewed in 2019 were story collections .....
(Seriously, though: story-collections continue to appeal less and less to me -- and novels evermore.
Let everything be novels !)
At ActuaLitté they report on the top-selling titles in France in 2018, as determined by L'Observatoire de la librairie.
The rankings just take into account bookstore sales (not online sales), and are from a limited number of bookstores at that, but presumably/hopefully give a decent idea of what was most popular (though sadly no actual sales figures are given).
The top three titles were:
La disparition de Stéphanie Mailer by Joël Dicker
Couleurs de l'incendie by Pierre Lemaitre
Leurs enfants après eux by Nicolas Mathieu
Apparently, bande dessinée -- graphic novels and the like -- did particularly well, with an increase of 6.3 per cent over 2017.
See also their break-down of the year as a whole -- split between impressive growth (7.7 per cent from the beginning of the year through 19 August (the beginning of the fall 'rentrée' bookselling season) and a decline of 2.1 per cent over the rest of the year.
(Updated - 6 January): See now also Robert Zaretsky on the book and author, explaining that Michel Houellebecq Hated Europe Before You Did at Foreign Policy (where they've had a surprising amount of solid literary coverage recently).
At Börsenblatt they have the bestsller lists for 2018 for Germany for books in a variety of formats, fiction and non.
Sebastian Fitzek's Der Insasse was the top-selling hardcover fiction title, ahead of novels by Frank Schätzing and Dörte Hansen, a Jojo Moyes was the top foreign title, in fourth place.
Fitzek also had the number two (mass-market) paperback title -- sandwiched between two Carmen Korn novels.
(Fitzek has had several novels translated into English, most recently The Nightwalker; see the Pegasus publicity page.)
Michelle Obama's Becoming was the bestselling non-fiction title -- followed by a Stephen Hawking volume.
See also the overview-article at Börsenblatt.
PWxyz, parent company of Publishers Weekly, has acquired the online magazine the Millions, plus its website TheMillions.com, for an undisclosed price.
At The Millions founder C. Max Magee also shares the news.
It'll be interesting to see how/whether the site changes -- the sound financial backing can't hurt -- but hopefully they'll continue to do what they do best -- including their bi-annual 'Most Anticipated" book previews.
The list of the most popular reviews at the complete review in 2018 was very much like that in 2017 -- only ten titles fell out of the top fifty (compared to eighteen the year before).
The top ten were:
Only two 2018 titles made the top-50 -- Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries (31) and Murakami Haruki's Killing Commendatore (46) -- but the Murakami was the only new review; the Johnson review was posted in 2007 (and thus benefitted from early interest in it before the new translation came out, since there was relatively little other information about the book available online).
Other notable books first reviewed in 2018 attracted less interest:
While many of the major publications, especially in the US and UK, post their best-of-the-year lists long before the year is over, book bloggers tend to wait until they're done with their reading to look back on what they most enjoyed over the course of the year -- which often isn't limited to new/2018 titles, either, making for a more interesting variety.
Here are a few of interest:
At Three Percent Chad Post has an enjoyable post (also) on overlooked books (from under-appreciated publishers) -- almost none of which I covered (and I've only seen about half of these) --, 9 x 9 x 9: Everything Comes to an End.
The number of overlooked books is, of course, overwhelming; going over the titles I reviewed in 2018, I'm shocked by how little coverage some titles have received -- not least Open Letter's own Ma Bo'le’s Second Life, by Xiao Hong, which alone for the question of the role of the translator (in this case no one less than Howard Goldblatt) deserved to be more widely discussed.
There are a very large number of titles that seem to me didn't get the coverage/attention they deserved, but the most notable of these are probably:
Carlos Rojas' The Valley of the Fallen: yes, it got a review in the TLS -- but that's almost it.
And, as I've repeatedly noted, this is one of the best books I read all year. And it was translated by Edith Grossman.
Wolfgang Herrndorf's Sand: yes, this got a decent amount of attention when the UK edition came out -- but this year, when it came to the US, it got relatively little coverage.
And that despite being the 500th volume in the great New York Review Books Classics series (and they touted it as such, which must have attracted some attention).
Ibrahim al-Koni's The Fetishists: I haven't covered this yet -- I just got my copy -- but this is a major publishing event, by a Man Booker International Prize (when it was still an author prize ...) finalist -- and no one seems to have noted it yet.
(See also the University of Texas Press publicity page.)
Willem Frederik Hermans' An Untouched House: OK, this has gotten some decent coverage, especially in the UK, but nowhere near what it deserves: again, this is a major, major work (despite being very short) that should be getting a lot more notice.
German author Edgar Hilsenrath has passed away; see, for example, the (German) report in the taz.
He lived in New York City for quite a while, and his early work was published in the US; his 1980 novel, originally titled Bronskys Geständnis, which was based on his American experiences, was only published in translation in 2018 -- under the revised title; I'm not sure which has been more off-putting to potential American readers, that or the price (US$80 !); see the Owl of Minerva Press publicity page or get your copy at Amazon.com.
A full year-in-numbers post will follow in a few days, but here the highlights of the year gone by: 2018 saw 217 reviews added at the complete review (year end total: 4288), covering books originally written in 44 languages, the reviews totaling 253,405 words -- almost 60,000 more than in 2017, the 2018 per-review average of 1168 words more than 20 per cent more than in 2017 (961 words/review).
A power outage early in the year, and then a (house-)move mid-year meant that for the first time in quite a few years there were days without posts at this Literary Saloon, but only a handful.
2019 marks the twentieth-anniversary year for the complete review -- founded in spring, 1999 -- and so you can expect ... well, pretty much more of the same.
Another 200 or so reviews, (near-)daily posting at the Literary Saloon -- though perhaps with a few more travel-related interruptions/disruptions (don't worry, just brief ones) than usual over the course of the year.
As always, I appreciate your continuing patronage, and I'm glad you continue to find the site of use and interest.
Merry 2019 -- with much good reading, I hope -- to one and all !
And of course your support is always welcome, e.g via Patreon ...