Literary Saloon

the literary
weblog at the
complete review

the weblog

about the saloon

support the site





to e-mail us:

literary weblogs:

  Books, Inq.
  Critical Mass
  Guardian Books
  The Millions
  NewPages Weblog
  Three Percent

  Rép. des livres

  Arts & Letters Daily
  The Millions
  The Rumpus
  Two Words

  See also: links page

saloon statistics

the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review
opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 January 2019

21 January: Books-from-around-the-world preview | Mala Vida review
22 January: Sapir Prize | Society of Authors' Translation Prize shortlists | Deutscher Krimi Preis
23 January: NBCC finalists | Edgar® Awards finalists | On Wandsworth Bridge review
24 January: Top-selling French authors, 2018 | John Ashbery Reading Library | The White Book review
25 January: PEN America Literary Awards finalists | Diana Athill (1917-2019) | Graziella review
26 January: DSC Prize | Amazon Crossing Kids | GLLI Translated YA Book Prize | Letter to Survivors review
27 January: Korean novels abroad | Romain Rolland Prize | The last 100 reviews
28 January: Man dumps Booker | Toomas Nipernaadi review
29 January: Japanese literature abroad | Encouraging authors to translate
30 January: Whitbread Costa Book of the Year | Irish Book of the Year 2018 | Maigret and the Old People review
31 January: Prix Mémorable | Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist | Two Lines Press profile | Róbert Gál reviews

go to weblog

return to main archive

31 January 2019 - Thursday

Prix Mémorable | Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist
Two Lines Press profile | Róbert Gál reviews

       Prix Mémorable

       They've announced the winner of the 2018 prix Mémorable, a French literary prize for an overlooked or forgotten-and-resurrected book, or previously untranslated work or author now available in French, or a new translation replacing an outdated one (etc.) -- and the winner is Raymond Guérin's 1948 novel, La peau dure; no word yet at the official site, but see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report; among the other finalists was ... Bernard Malamud's The Magic Barrel.
       Guérin doesn't seem to have ever made much of an impression in English, but quite a few of his works remain in print in French; this one, however, seems to have been out of print for a while, before being revived in 2017, by Éditions Finitude; see also their publicity page.

       Previous winners include Emmanuel Bove's My Friends (2016), John Williams' Stoner (2011), and the recently deceased Edgar Hilsenrath's Fuck America (2009) (now available in English from Owl of Minerva Press).

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

       Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's prix Jean d'Ormesson -- a new prize (it's only the second time they're awarding it) in honor, and the spirit, of Jean d'Ormesson, with a fun, anything goes approach. Really pretty much anything goes here: as his daughter explained in introducing the prize:
Ni l'époque, ni la langue, ni le genre n'entraveront le choix des douze jurés. Seuls leurs goûts, leur complicité et une certaine forme d'affinité élective guideront leur sélection
       It doesn't matter when the book first came out -- whatever the jurors (who include Dany Laferrière, Héloise d’Ormesson, and Erik Orsenna this year) feel like, goes. Which explains why books -- some in ancient translations -- including Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Juan Rulfo's Pedro Páramo, Amos Oz's A Tale of Love and Darkness, and a San-Antonio have made the longlist; see the Livres Hebdo report for the full list.
       I have to say, I like this free-for-all, no-constraints idea for a book prize.

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

       Two Lines Press profile

       At the American Booksellers Association site Liz Button has a Small Press Profile: Two Lines Press, previewing the line-up of forthcoming titles as well as describing the background of impressive little Two Lines Press at the Center for the Art of Translation.

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

       Róbert Gál reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two of Róbert Gál's work, published by Dalkey Archive Press:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

30 January 2019 - Wednesday

Whitbread Costa Book of the Year | Irish Book of the Year 2018
Maigret and the Old People review

       Whitbread Costa Book of the Year

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) that The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es has won this year's Whitbread Costa Book of the Year (yes, another UK prize with some sponsor-turnover ...).
       See the Penguin Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Irish Book of the Year 2018

       They've announced that Notes to Self by Emilie Pine has been named the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2018.
       See also the Tramp Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or get your copy at

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

       Maigret and the Old People review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's Maigret and the Old People, out in a new translation (by Shaun Whiteside) from Penguin Classics.

       Interesting to read this not long after reading Simenon's When I was Old-notebooks, which cover the time when he finished and published this.

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

29 January 2019 - Tuesday

Japanese literature abroad | Encouraging authors to translate

       Japanese literature abroad

       In the Nikkei Asian Review Peter Tasker finds: 'China leads international boom in demand for new and old authors', as a Bull market in bungaku highlights Japanese literary revival
       He notes: "there has been a rise in the level of international critical esteem for creative Japanese literature, known as bungaku" -- titles such as Tawada Yoko's The Emissary (published in the UK as The Last Children of Tokyo) and Murata Sayaka's Convenience Store Woman -- and that:
Huge new markets are appearing too. Keigo Higashino, the king of Japanese mystery writing, has ousted J.K. Rowling as the best-selling foreign author of all time in China.
       (Higashino hasn't attained quite the same popularity in the US/UK, but quite a few of his works (though far from all ...) have been translated -- most recently, Newcomer.)
       Tasker also notes that:
Red Circle is an example of an ambitious publishing venture exploring new territory. [Richard] Nathan and partner Koji Chikatani have commissioned original work, unpublished in Japanese, from well-established authors keen to project themselves to a global audience.
       Two of their first three Red Circle Minis offerings are under review at the complete review.

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

       Encouraging authors to translate

       In Dawn Sher Alam Shinwari reports how at a recent national conference held in Peshawar Writers urged to improve translation skills.
       Always good to see translation being encouraged -- and, especially, writers being encouraged to translate -- "to understand traditions and cultures of other advanced nations but also to learn creative thought and research methods and inspiring new ideas", among other things.

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

28 January 2019 - Monday

Man dumps Booker | Toomas Nipernaadi review

       Man dumps Booker

       The Man Group, the (£1.6 million-)money-Man in the Man Booker Prize, have decided they no longer want to pay for the literary prize(s) and have now announced that this is their last year; see the official press releases from the Man Group (Man Group and the Booker Prize Foundation to end current sponsorship agreement of the Man Booker Prizes) and the Booker Prize Foundation (Statement from the Booker Prize Foundation).
       Press reports note that, as for example the BBC's has it: Man Booker loses £1.6m hedge fund sponsor amid talk of tension. Apparently author-statements such as Sebastian Faulks' that the Man-folk are: "not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes; they're the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising" hit a nerve .....
       So what now ? Well, it's worth remembering that Booker bowed out long ago but somehow kept the branding ..... (Via I'm pointed to this BBC story from when Booker stopped sponsoring, when they were bought by frozen food retailer Iceland; to think that we could have had the Iceland Prize, and since the combined group re-branded as the Big Food Group, this could have been the Big Food Group Prize, which I think would have been a real winning name for a literary prize .....)

       As to who will be willing to throw this much money at these prizes (the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, as well as the Man Booker International Prize) ... well, it will be interesting to see whether there are any takers. Sponsorship has been a big issue for many of the larger British literary prizes in recent years, and the Man Booker is surely the most expensive to run of all of these.
       The obvious underwriter would be Amazon (they have the cash; it connects with (a sliver of) their business), and I'd kind of like to see the storm of outrage that would come if they stepped in ......
       I suspect that whoever does take it over will also insist on some fat-trimming: that £1.6 million-budget will presumably be cut down to size (though not the prize money, a drop in the so much larger bucket).

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

       Toomas Nipernaadi review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of August Gailit's Toomas Nipernaadi.

       This 1928 Estonian classic is now available in English for the first time, from Dedalus.

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

27 January 2019 - Sunday

Korean novels abroad | Romain Rolland Prize | The last 100 reviews

       Korean novels abroad

       Yonhap reports that 87 contemporary Korean novels will be published in 22 languages this year.
       That's apparently what the Literature Translation Institute of Korea has announced (though not yet at the official site, last I checked).
       Leading authors include Han Kang (including the just-about-to-come-out in the US The White Book) and Hwang Sok-yong (with two titles due out in the US, both of which I have and look forward to getting to), with four titles each in the mix.

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

       Romain Rolland Prize

       The Romain Rolland Prize is a French prize awarded to a translation of a French work into an Indian language, and they've now announced this year's winner -- S.R. Kichenamourty's Tamil translation of Andrei Makine's The Life of an Unknown Man; see the PTI report Tamil translation of French book wins Romain Rolland Book Prize for literary translation as well as the announcement of the shortlist.

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

       The last 100 reviews

       I recently reached 4300 books under review at the complete review, so it's time for another overview of the past 100 reviewed titles.

       - The last 100 reviews were posted over a ridiculously brisk 145 days (the previous 100: 191 days), totaling an amazing 127,620 words (another jump of more than 14,000 more than the previous hundred (113,529), and by far the highest per-review rate yet at the site). The longest review was 3712 words, and eleven reviews were over 2000 words long.
       The reviewed books had a total of 25,405 pages. That's down from 26,080 for the previous hundred, but an increase in the pages-per-day rate to 175.2, from the previous 136.54.

       - Reviewed books were, again, originally written in 28 different languages (including English); French easily topped the field with 22, followed by English and Japanese with 12 each. Three new languages was added -- Marathi, Sesotho, and Tamil -- bringing the total number of languages covered to 77. (See also the updated full breakdown of all the languages books under review were originally written in.)

       - Reviewed books were by authors from 36 countries (previous 100: 41), again led by France (15), followed by Japan (12), with Yugoslavia and the UK tied for third with 6 apiece.

       - Yet again, male-written books were overwhelmingly dominant -- 83 of the reviewed books were written by men (improving the horribly sexist average of written-by-women titles under review ever so slightly, to ... 15.93 per cent).

       - One book received a grade of 'A+' -- Iris Murdoch's An Accidental Man -- but nothing rated 'A'; four titles did rate 'A-'. The lowest rating was a 'B-' , assigned to two titles.

       - Fiction dominated, as it always does, with 82 titles that were novels/novellas/stories.

       As always, I hope for an even greater spread of works (language-, time-, genre-, etc. -wise) over the next 100 .....

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

26 January 2019 - Saturday

DSC Prize | Amazon Crossing Kids
GLLI Translated YA Book Prize | Letter to Survivors review

       DSC Prize

       They've announced that No Presents Please by Jayant Kaikini, translated from the original Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana, has won the 2018 DSC Prize For South Asian Literature.
       See also the Harper Collins (India) publicity page, or get your copy at or

       (Updated - 30 January): See now also Shrestha Saha's Q & A with Jayant Kaikini on the good fortune of writing in a regional language.

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

       Amazon Crossing Kids

       Several publishers with a translation-focus have launched children's-books imprints in the last few years -- Pushkin Press' Pushkin Children's and Archipelago Books' Elsewhere Editions, for example -- and now selling-publishing juggernaut Amazon, who already publish more fiction in translation than any other US publisher in their Amazon Crossing imprint have entered the market as well, as: Amazon Publishing Announces Amazon Crossing Kids, an Imprint for Children’s Books in Translation.
       The market in kids' translations is a big one in other languages/markets, but has long lagged in English, so there would seem to be a good opportunity here.

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

       GLLI Translated YA Book Prize

       The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative has announced the winner of their first GLLI Translated YA Book Prize -- Anne Ishii's translation of the two-volume manga by Tagame Gengoroh, My Brother's Husband.
       See also the Pantheon publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Letter to Survivors review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gébé's 1981 graphic novel, Letter to Survivors, now out in English from New York Review Comics.

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

25 January 2019 - Friday

PEN America Literary Awards finalists
Diana Athill (1917-2019) | Graziella review

       PEN America Literary Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's PEN America Literary Awards
       The finalists for the PEN Translation Prize are:
  • Disoriental, by Négar Djavadi, tr. Tina Kover

  • Love, by Hanne Ørstavik, tr. Martin Aitken

  • Nevada Days, by Bernardo Atxaga, tr. Margaret Jull Costa

  • The Stone Building, by Aslı Erdoğan, tr. Sevinç Türkkan

  • Trick, by Domenico Starnone, tr. Jhumpa Lahiri
       The winners will be announced 26 February.

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

       Diana Athill (1917-2019)

       Stet-author and renowned editor Diana Athill has passed away; see, for example, Polly Pattullo's obituary in The Guardian.

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

       Graziella review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alphonse de Lamartine's classic Graziella, out in a new translation from the University of Minnesota Press.

       The Kirkus review was rather dismissive: "Sentimental, condescending, and dismissive, Lamartine's fictionalized memoirs have aged badly"; I can't really disagree with the summing-up but I do with their conclusion -- obviously, very little about it is of our time (and some of it is pretty silly), but its qualities still hold up.

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

24 January 2019 - Thursday

Top-selling French authors, 2018 | John Ashbery Reading Library
The White Book review

       Top-selling French authors, 2018

       Le Figaro has its annual list of Le palmarès des romanciers français qui ont le plus vendu en 2018 -- adding up total sales for French authors in 2018 (of all their books). This piece is unfortunately paywalled, but ActuaLitté sums things up.
       For the eighth year in a row, Guillaume Musso was -- by far -- the bestselling author. The top ten were:
  1. Guillaume Musso - 1,6 million books sold
  2. Michel Bussi - 975,800
  3. Joël Dicker - 894,400
  4. Aurélie Valognes - 834,500
  5. Marc Levy - 820,800
  6. Virginie Grimaldi - 674,500
  7. Pierre Lemaitre - 673,200
  8. Raphaëlle Giordano - 602,200
  9. Françoise Bourdin - 592,400
  10. Franck Thilliez - 546,100
       Books by several of these authors are available in English, and are under review at the complete review (Dicker, Levy, Lemaitre, and Thilliez; see the Index of French Literature under review).

       Given the early sales success of Michel Houellebecq's Sérotonine there seems little doubt he will be back -- pretty high up -- in the top ten next year.

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

       John Ashbery Reading Library

       Harvard's Houghton Library has announced John Ashbery Papers and Reading Library Acquired by Harvard University.
       They've been collecting the poet's papers for a while, and have now added his private library -- and:
The Ashbery Reading Library, which will be housed at Houghton and overseen by the Poetry Room, constitutes over 5,000 books of poetry and literature, art and film criticism, architectural history, philosophical and religious inquiry, travel literature, and cookbooks collected by Ashbery over the course of his lifetime.
Many of the books feature Ashbery's inimitable marginal markings as well as affectionate and whimsical inscriptions from such friends as Robert Duncan, Ronaldo Jonson, Kenneth Koch, Harry Mathews, Tom Raworth, Mark Strand, Trevor Winkfield, and Dara Wier.
       In The New York Times Jennifer Schuessler also reports on this, in For John Ashbery's Personal Library, a Spot on the Shelves at Harvard.

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

       The White Book review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Han Kang's The White Book.

       This came out in the UK in 2017 -- and was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize -- but the US edition is only coming out next month. Despite the success of her previous works -- and of this one in the UK -- it doesn't seem to have generated much interest yet. (Meanwhile, in the UK they even had a dedicated site for the book --

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

23 January 2019 - Wednesday

NBCC finalists | Edgar® Awards finalists | On Wandsworth Bridge review

       NBCC finalists

       The (American) National Book Critics Circle has announced the thirty-one finalists in six categories -- fiction, non, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry.
       None of the books are under review at the complete review .....
       The winners will be announced 14 March.

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

       Edgar® Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar® Awards.
       The only title under review at the complete review is a nominee in the Best Paperback Original-category, Leila Slimani's The Perfect Nanny (published in the UK as Lullaby).
       The winners will be announced on 25 April.

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

       On Wandsworth Bridge review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hattie Pond's On Wandsworth Bridge.

       This novel came out -- posthumously -- from Sylph Editions last year. It did get a -- very positive -- review in the Literary Review, but doesn't seem to have gotten much attention otherwise, certainly not in the US. A shame -- it's a good read. Hard to categorize -- or rather, too easy too categorize, as doing so probably gives the wrong impression.
       Amusingly, too, it's the second novel I've read in the past two months in which a significant part of the action takes place in Nouakchott -- and the rest of Mauritania (the other being The Desert and the Drum).

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

22 January 2019 - Tuesday

Sapir Prize | Society of Authors' Translation Prize shortlists
Deutscher Krimi Preis

       Sapir Prize

       They've announced that this year's Sapir Prize for Literature, a leading Israeli literary prize, goes to a short-story collection by Etgar Keret, תקלה בקצה הגלקסיה ('A Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy'); see, for example, The Jerusalem Post report
       See also the publisher's publicity page; no doubt this will be out in English fairly soon too.

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

       Society of Authors' Translation Prize shortlists

       The Society of Authors' Translation Prizes will be handed out on 13 February; one winner has already been announced -- the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from the Arabic -- but the others haven't yet. I can't recall them ever conveniently reveling all the shortlisted titles on one page/in one post, but they have this year, in The Translation Prizes 2018 shortlists, for all seven of the prizes being awarded this year.
       Two of the Schlegel-Tieck Prize-finalists, for translation from the German, are under review at the complete review: Tess Lewis' translation of Kruso, by Lutz Seiler (the 2014 German Book Prize-winner that has bafflingly attracted almost no US review notice ...) and Stefan Tobler's translation of The Old King in his Exile, by Arno Geiger (which has also gotten very little US-notice ...).
       One finalist for the Premio Valle Inclán Prize, for translation from the Spanish, is also under review: Simon Deefholts and Kathryn Phillips-Miles' translation of Inventing Love by José Ovejero.

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

       Deutscher Krimi Preis

       They've announced the winners of this year's German Mystery Prize -- not yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, the (German) Deutschlandfunk Kultur report, which includes a Q & A with juror Sonja Hartl.
       The German-language winner was Mexikoring, by Simone Buchholz, the sixth in the ... state prosecutor Chastity Riley series; see the Suhrkamp foreign rights page. Several of her books have been published by Orenda Books, who also have the English-language rights to this one. (I'm almost tempted to pick one of these up just to find out what the story is behind the main character's name.)
       The international category was won by Yokoyama Hideo's Six Four.

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

21 January 2019 - Monday

Books-from-around-the-world preview | Mala Vida review

       Books-from-around-the-world preview

       The New York Times has a 'sneak preview of books coming out in 2019 from around the world', Globetrotting.
       An interesting variety -- though far from all the good things we can look forward to; check out the Translation Database at Publishers Weekly, currently listing 166 titles in translation coming out in 2019 (with more no doubt to be added). (Not all The New York Times' suggestions are works in translation, however.)
       (And as far as the national attributions go: sorry, but just because the city where Gregor von Rezzori was born is now part of Ukraine does not make him Ukrainian .....)

       (Updated - 6 February): Note that the list has been expanded considerably, and now includes a considerably broader selection -- and Rezzori is no longer presented as Ukrainian.

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

       Mala Vida review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marc Fernandez's Mala Vida, just out from Arcade.
       This is a French thriller, but, while there are some brief French detours, it takes place in Spain -- and very much addresses Spanish issues.

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

previous entries (11 - 20 January 2019)

archive index

- return to top of the page -

© 2019 the complete review

the Complete Review
Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links