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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 January 2019

1 January: Best of the year/Year-in-reading posts | Overlooked in 2018 | Edgar Hilsenrath (1926-2018) | 2019
2 January: Coming from ... Japan in 2019 | Most Popular Reviews - 2018 | Maigret in Court review
3 January: New World Literature Today | Literary estates | Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists review
4 January: 1968 Nobel Prize | Bestselling in 2018 in ... Germany | Publishers Weekly buys The Millions | '2018 speculative titles in translation' | Tel Aviv Review of Books
5 January: Bestselling in 2018 in ... France | New Houellebecq | Night School review
6 January: More: coming in 2019 ... | Translating from ... Danish | 2018 in review at the complete review
7 January: Les Murray tributes | Stanisław Lem profile | Nayantara Sahgal disinvited | A Mysterious Affair of Style review
8 January: IPAF longlist | Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners
9 January: The Millions' 'Most Anticipated' | Yi Sang Literary Award | City of Refuge review
10 January: RBC Taylor Prize finalists | National Jewish Book Awards | The year in reading at other weblogs

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10 January 2019 - Thursday

RBC Taylor Prize finalists | National Jewish Book Awards
The year in reading at other weblogs

       RBC Taylor Prize finalists

       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.

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

       National Jewish Book Awards

       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.

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

       The year in reading at other weblogs

       A couple of days ago I posted on 2018 in review at the complete review; here are some year-at-the-site and year-in-reading overviews from other weblogs:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

9 January 2019 - Wednesday

The Millions' 'Most Anticipated' | Yi Sang Literary Award
City of Refuge review

       The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'

       I've posted links to 2019-previews of books to look forward to -- here and here -- and now The Millions offers its Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2019 Book Preview of over 120 books.
       A good overview -- though there are a lot more independent press titles deserving of attention .....

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

       Yi Sang Literary Award

       As Kwak Yeon-soo reports in The Korea Times, Novelist Yun I-hyeong wins 43rd Yi Sang Literary Award -- a leading South Korean literary prize -- with 그들의 첫 번째와 두 번째 고양이 ('Their First and Second Cat').
       Previous winners of this prize include Yi Mun-yol (for Our Twisted Hero), The Vegetarian-author Han Kang, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-author Kim Young-ha, and City of Ash and Red-author Pyun Hye-young.
       Several of Yun I-hyeong's works have been translated into English -- get, e.g. Danny at --, but not by any commercial US/UK publisher, but I imagine that will change (eventually ...).

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

       City of Refuge review

       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.

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

8 January 2019 - Tuesday

IPAF longlist | Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners

       IPAF longlist

       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.

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

       Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners

       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.

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

7 January 2019 - Monday

Les Murray tributes | Stanisław Lem profile | Nayantara Sahgal disinvited
A Mysterious Affair of Style review

       Les Murray tributes

       The great Les Murray has stepped down as poetry editor of Quadrant -- after twenty-eight years ! -- and they have a nice and very extensive selection of tributes In Praise of Les Murray there now.

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

       Stanisław Lem profile

       At The New Yorker's Culture Desk Paul Grimstad has a nice overview of The Beautiful Mind-Bending of Stanislaw Lem.

       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).

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

       Nayantara Sahgal disinvited

       Ninety-one-year-old (!) Nayantara Sahgal was invited to inaugurate an Indian literary festival -- but, as now reported (by the PTI, here at the Business Standard), Literature fest withdraws invite to writer Nayantara Sahgal after threat.
       Apparently, her criticism of the Narendra Modi government is just too great a risk .....

       (Updated): Here is what she was going to say: Nayantara Sahgal's speech for Marathi Sahitya Sammelan: In some cases, our duty to hurt sentiments (at the Indian Express).

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

       A Mysterious Affair of Style review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the second in Gilbert Adair's Evadne Mount trilogy, A Mysterious Affair of Style -- with a review of the final volume to follow soon.

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

6 January 2019 - Sunday

More: coming in 2019 ... | Translating from ... Danish
2018 in review at the complete review

       More: coming in 2019 ...

       Last week I listed links to some coming-in-2019 lists in various publications, and here are a few more noteworthy ones that have appeared since then:        (Updated - 8 January): See now also:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Translating from ... Danish

       In the Copenhagen Post Christian Wenande has a Q & A with a number of translators-from-the-Danish who gathered at the annual Bogforum book fair, Wizards behind the words: the unsung heroes of Danish literature
       Several of the favorites they mention are under review at the complete review: Lucky Per, Brummstein, and Havoc.

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

       2018 in review at the complete review

       The year that was at the site, in (some) numbers:

       In 2018, 217 books were reviewed at the complete review, just over one more a month than in 2017 (203). (The soft target each year is 200.)

       You can find the 50 most popular reviews, 2018 here. (I've discussed these previously, here.)

       The most popular (of the not particularly popular) author pages were:
  1. Patrick White
  2. Amélie Nothomb
  3. Murakami Haruki
  4. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  5. Naguib Mahfouz
       The Patrick White page repeated as the most popular author-page, and the top four were also last year's top four (though in different order).

       The most popular review-indices were for:
  1. Erotic, Pornographic, and Sex-related books
  2. Far East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) literature
  3. Mysteries and Thrillers
  4. Eastern European literature
  5. French literature
  6. Books Written Before 1900
  7. Latin and South American literature
  8. Science fiction and fantasy
  9. Books from selected Imprints and Publishers
  10. Indian literature
       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:
  • 1990s: 14
  • 1980s: 6
  • 1970s: 20
  • 1960s: 10
  • 1950s: 9
  • 1940s: 8
  • 1930s: 4
  • 1920s: 9
  • 1910s: 1
  • 1900s: 1
       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':        The lowest grade was a 'C', given to Norman Mailer's Deaths for the Ladies (and other disasters).

       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:
  1. United States (33.17%; 2017: 37.12%)
  2. India (13.66%)
  3. United Kingdom (7.91%)
  4. Canada (4.93%)
  5. Philippines (3.93%)
  6. Nigeria
  7. Australia
  8. Germany
  9. South Africa
  10. Netherlands
       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:
  • desktop: 56.06%
  • mobile: 36.82%
  • tablet: 7.12%
       (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 !)

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

5 January 2019 - Saturday

Bestselling in 2018 in ... France | New Houellebecq
Night School review

       Bestselling in 2018 in ... France

       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:
  1. La disparition de Stéphanie Mailer by Joël Dicker
  2. Couleurs de l'incendie by Pierre Lemaitre
  3. 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.

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

       New Houellebecq

       The new Michel Houellebecq, Sérotonine, is now out in France -- see the Flammarion publicity page, or get your copy at or -- and while translations into other European languages are due out shortly (the German one is due out Monday), English-speaking readers will have to wait until the fall.
       In The Guardian Angelique Chrisafis writes at length about it in 'Vanquished white male': Houellebecq's new novel predicts French discontent, while France 24 has the AFP report, French literary rebel Houellebecq releases 'Serotonin,' a novel that echoes 'Yellow Vest' protests. Meanwhile, there's already a ton of French coverage -- as well as even some German reviews (e.g. in the Süddeutsche Zeitung), while Die Welt has an entertaining sampler-piece (sorry, in German ...).

       (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).

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

       Night School review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Reader for Grownups, Bán Zsófia's clever collection of stories, Night School, just (about) out from Open Letter.

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

4 January 2019 - Friday

1968 Nobel Prize | Bestselling in 2018 in ... Germany
Publishers Weekly buys The Millions
'2018 speculative titles in translation' | Tel Aviv Review of Books

       1968 Nobel Prize

       The 1968 Nobel Prize in Literature went to Snow Country (etc.)-author Kawabata Yasunari.
       Fifty years after the awarding of the prize the Swedish Academy opens up its archives -- and it's no surprise the Japanese are first to report on how it went down in 1968; see the Asahi Shimbun report by Mariko Nakamura, Details released about selection of Kawabata for 1968 Nobel Prize.
       More details -- including the full list of nominees -- hopefully to follow .....

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

       Bestselling in 2018 in ... Germany

       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.

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

       Publishers Weekly buys The Millions

       Jim Milliot reports at Publishers Weekly that PW Takes Over the Millions, as:
PWxyz, parent company of Publishers Weekly, has acquired the online magazine the Millions, plus its website, 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.

       (Updated - 10 January): See now also The Millions Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead by Kat Rosenfield at Vulture.

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

       '2018 speculative titles in translation'

       At Locus Rachel Cordasco compiled a list of Speculative Fiction in Translation: Novels, Collections, and Short Stories 2018.
       Some of these are re-issues (the Dath, some of the Živkovićs), others don't seem to have been published in the US (e.g the Marie Darrieussecq), and of course 'speculative fiction' arguably covers more (and/or less ...), but it's certainly a useful general overview.

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

       Tel Aviv Review of Books

       Via I'm pointed to the brand new The Tel Aviv Review of Books, which looks fairly promising -- see, for example, the lengthy Q & A with translator Jessica Cohen, 'A Translator is First and Foremost a Reader'.

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

3 January 2019 - Thursday

New World Literature Today | Literary estates
Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists review

       New World Literature Today

       The Winter 2019 issue of World Literature Today is now up, with a focus on Edwidge Danticat and a great deal of other good material as well.
       Of particular interest, as always: the review-section.

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

       Literary estates

       In the New Statesman Leo Robson offers a group-review covering several books which lets him write at some length on a favorite topic hereabouts: Bitter feuds, buried scandal: the contested world of literary estates -- an always entertaining topic.

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

       Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roberto Ransom's collection, Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists, out in a nice edition from Swan Isle Press.

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

2 January 2019 - Wednesday

Coming from ... Japan in 2019 | Most Popular Reviews - 2018
Maigret in Court review

       Coming from ... Japan in 2019

       In The Japan Times Iain Maloney suggests you Mark the new year with a commitment to books on Japan, previewing some of the titles from and about Japan that will be appearing in English in 2019.
       There are some titles that have been previously available -- Mizumura Minae's Inheritance from Mother, for example -- but also a lot of new things that I'm certainly looking forward to.

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

       Most Popular Reviews - 2018

       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:
  1. The Dilemma of a Ghost, Ama Ata Aidoo
  2. Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, Okot p'Bitek
  3. The Three Mistakes of my Life, Chetan Bhagat
  4. El Filibusterismo, José Rizal
  5. Five Point Someone, Chetan Bhagat
  6. Decolonising the Mind, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  7. Samskara, U.R.Ananthamurthy
  8. Goat Days, Benyamin
  9. Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda
  10. Basti, Intizar Husain
       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:        See also the entire top 50, and the monthly top 15, at Most Popular Reviews - 2018.

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

       Maigret in Court review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's Maigret in Court, out in a new translation by Ros Schwartz from Penguin Classics, now also available in the US.

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

1 January 2019 - Tuesday

Best of the year/Year-in-reading posts
Overlooked in 2018 | Edgar Hilsenrath (1926-2018) | 2019

       Best of the year/Year-in-reading posts

       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:        (I'll have links to more general year-in-reading / year-at-the-blog overviews from bloggers in a few days.)

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

       Overlooked in 2018

       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'les 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).

  • Ricardo Piglia's The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: The Happy Years: the first volume in this trilogy was actually widely covered -- so why has this one essentially been completely ignored ? 'Formative' attracts attention, 'happy' doesn't ?

  • 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.

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

       Edgar Hilsenrath (1926-2018)

       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

       (Updated - 2 January): See now also the Deutsche Welle report, Holocaust satirist Elgar Hilsenrath dies at 92.

       (Updated - 4 January): See now also the obituary by Sam Roberts in The New York Times.

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


       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 ...

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

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