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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 July 2019

1 July: Bachmannpreis | The Snow of the Admiral review
2 July: Writing in ... Georgia | New World Literature Today
3 July: Miles Franklin Award shortlist | Feluda reviews
4 July: Deep Vellum expands | Water management fiction | Leo-Perutz-Preis shortlist
5 July: Prix Émile-Guimet | De man zonder ziekte review
6 July: Premio Strega | Teju Cole keynote | Leïla Slimani Q & A
7 July: Sjón's ecological template for literature | US support for Taiwanese literature | The Song of Kiều review
8 July: 'New Dutch Writing' | The last 100 reviews
9 July: Caine Prize | Translating from ... Tibetan | Babel review
10 July: Georg-Büchner-Preis | Publishing in ... Iran | Three Summers review

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10 July 2019 - Wednesday

Georg-Büchner-Preis | Publishing in ... Iran | Three Summers review


       They've announced the winner of this year's Georg-Büchner-Preis, the leading German author prize, and it is Lukas Bärfuss, who will pick up the €50,000 prize on 2 November; see also the Deutsche Welle report, Swiss writer Lukas Bärfuss wins prestigious Georg Büchner Prize.
       His Rwanda-novel One Hundred Days has been published in English; see the Granta publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Publishing in ... Iran

       In the Tehran Times they report on Mahmud Barabadi's comments that Translated books easier to publish in Iran (than domestically-written books).
       Among the reasons he gives: "due to the lack of copyright legalities in Iran, the publication of translated books are easier for the publishers in Iran", while also noting that:
Iranian writers write books inspired by the local and cultural atmosphere and need to attract Iranian readers. Unfortunately, the great number of restrictions on Iranian writers in choosing topics, characters, and even the descriptions of events lead to failure in this field

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

       Three Summers review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Margarita Liberaki's Three Summers, just out from New York Review Books.

       This translation actually came out almost a quarter of a century ago -- but locally, in Greece, and until now it hasn't been readily available in the US/UK, so it's good to see this edition.

       Liberaki is the mother of well-known (and more translated) author Margarita Karapanou (Kassandra and the Wolf, etc.) -- but they are not the first parent-child duo with books under review at the complete review.

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

9 July 2019 - Tuesday

Caine Prize | Translating from ... Tibetan | Babel review

       Caine Prize for African Writing

       They've announced the winner of this year's Caine Prize for African Writing -- the leading African short story prize -- and it is Skinned (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Lesley Nneka Arimah, originally published in McSweeney's.

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

       Translating from ... Tibetan

       At the Asymptote blog Max Berwald has a Q & A Translating Contemporary Tibet: In Conversation with Christopher Peacock -- the translator of The Handsome Monk by Tsering Döndrup.

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

       Babel review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Babel: Adventures in Translation -- the book to go with the recent Bodleian Library exhibit.

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

8 July 2019 - Monday

'New Dutch Writing' | The last 100 reviews

       'New Dutch Writing'

       Campaign launched in the UK promoting Dutch literature in translation to UK readers, the Dutch Foundation for Literature recently announced; it is set to include: "over 70 author events at a range of festivals and literature venues nationwide, featuring Dutch writers in conversation with their British counterparts".
       There's already an official site -- New Dutch Writing -- which: "aims to engage UK readers with stimulating, cross-cultural debate", but there's ... not much content available yet.

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

       The last 100 reviews

       I recently reached 4400 books under review at the complete review, so it's time for another overview of the past 100 reviewed titles (4301 through 4400).

       - The last 100 reviews were posted over 162 days -- slightly longer than the previous 100 (145 days), but totaling considerably more words: 138,605 (last 100: 127,620 words), by far the highest average review length for any 100-review period to date. The longest review was 6501 words, and eleven reviews were over 2000 words long.
       Reviewed books had a total of 25,858 pages, slightly above the previous 25,405 but with a considerably lower pages-per-day rate (156.8, down from 175.2).

       - Reviewed books were originally written in 27 different languages (including English), one down from the previous hundred; English led the way, with 23 titles, followed by French (16), German (12.5), and Japanese (7). One new language was added -- Tibetan -- bringing the total number of languages covered to 78. (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: 36), France and the UK tied for the most (12), followed by Germany and Japan (7).

       - Male-written books were overwhelmingly dominant -- but slightly less so than usual, with 73 of the reviewed books written by men (improving the horribly sexist average of written-by-women titles under review to ... 16.81 per cent).

       - No books were rated A+ or A, but 10 were rated A-; B was the most common grade (56), while one title each got a B- and a C.

       - Fiction dominated, as it always does, with 83 titles that were novels/novellas/stories.

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

7 July 2019 - Sunday

Sjón's ecological template for literature | US support for Taiwanese literature
The Song of Kiều review

       Sjón's ecological template for literature

       At Eurozine they have Moonstone-author Sjón's Wespennest article On the organic diversity of literature where he considers 'How can a writer possibly contribute to averting catastrophic climate change ?'

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

       US support for Taiwanese literature

       In the Taipei Times Han Cheung reports on how 'The US Information Services supported and translated works by young Taiwanese modernist writers during the 1960s, as part of efforts in a 'Cultural Cold War' against communism', in Taiwan in Time: Waging war with pen and paper, as:
Under [Richard] McCarthy, the USIS sponsored and translated a significant number of works by young Taiwanese writers, and also published books featuring local avant-garde artists
       Ah, the good old days .... (?)

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

       The Song of Kiều review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Timothy Allen's new translation of Nguyễn Du's Vietnamese classic, The Song of Kiều: A New Lament, just out in the Penguin Classics series.

       This is apparently the first Vietnamese title in the Penguin Classics series -- long overdue, one would think. But this is certainly the obvious choice for the series, and while there have been several previous translations this one certainly has the potential of reaching a broader audience.

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

6 July 2019 - Saturday

Premio Strega | Teju Cole keynote | Leïla Slimani Q & A

       Premio Strega

       They've announced the winner of this year's Premio Strega, the leading Italian literary prize, and it is M. Il figlio del secolo, getting 228 votes, more than a hundred more than the runner-up among the five finalists.
       The massive, largely documentary novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins in the US and Fourth Estate in the UK -- and already got some US coverage in The New York Times, where Emma Johanningsmeier wrote about how A New Book About Mussolini Is Provoking a Debate Over His Legacy.
       See also the Bompiani publicity page.

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

       Teju Cole keynote

       Teju Cole gave the keynote speech at the awarding of the Internationaler Literaturpreis a few weeks ago, and the NYRDaily they now have a transcript, Carrying a Single Life: On Literature and Translation -- but you can also watch the whole speech on video.

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

       Leïla Slimani Q & A

       At Schayan Riaz has a Q & A with The Perfect Nanny-author Leïla Slimani.
       Among her responses:
As a child, I was an inveterate liar, always living in a fantasy world. I dreamt about having an extraordinary life, a passionate life, the life of a great author. I wrote poems and wanted to kill myself.

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

5 July 2019 - Friday

Prix Émile-Guimet | De man zonder ziekte review

       Prix Émile-Guimet

       They've announced the winner of this year's prix Émile-Guimet de Littérature asiatique, a leading French prize for an Asian work of fiction -- and it is The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Miyashita Natsu -- selected from a rather disappointing mere seventeen submissions.
       See also the Doubleday publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       De man zonder ziekte review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arnon Grunberg's 2012 novel, De man zonder ziekte.

       As you may recall, Open Letter was interested in publishing this, but .....
       It's not the best not-yet-translated Grunberg work, but it definitely is among those that should be available in English.

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

4 July 2019 - Thursday

Deep Vellum expands | Water management fiction
Leo-Perutz-Preis shortlist

       Deep Vellum expands

       At Publishers Weekly Ed Nawotka reports that Deep Vellum Acquires Two Publishers, Adds Imprints, as:
Dallas-based translation publisher Deep Vellum acquired the backlist of two separate independent publishing house -- Phoneme Media of Los Angeles and A Strange Object of Austin, Tex. -- and is expanding into publishing works originally written in English.
       Also good to hear:
Recent translation acquisitions include internationally-renowned Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu's most recent novel, Solenoid
       Definitely something to look forward to.

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

       Water management fiction

       There's recently been news of water shortages in India, so it's good to see that among the reactions is a look at the ... literature, as Kavitha Muralidharan writes about From Sangam era to Silappadhikaram, what Tamil literature tells us about harvesting water, as:
Ancient Tamil literature speaks eloquently about Tamils' knowledge in judicious use of water.
       Whatever works .....

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

       Leo-Perutz-Preis shortlist

       Austrian crime fiction hasn't exactly broken through internationally but has certainly blossomed domestically over the past decade -- and for the past decade they've been awarding the Leo-Perutz-Preis für Wiener Kriminalliteratur -- the Leo Perutz Prize for Viennese Crime Fiction, paying out a decent €5,000. Yes, more books by Leo Perutz have been translated into English -- several now available from Pushkin Press -- than winners of this prize have, but still .....
       They've now announced the five finalists for this year's prize -- which include an Alex Beer title (Beer has actually been translated into English ...); the winner will be announced 5 November.

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

3 July 2019 - Wednesday

Miles Franklin Award shortlist | Feluda reviews

       Miles Franklin Award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, one of the leading Australian novel prizes
       The finalists include two-time winner (in 1982 (!) and 1994) Rodney Hall (for A Stolen Season) and Gail Jones, who previously had shortlisted titles for a three-year run 2006 through 2008.
       The winner will be announced on 30 July.

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

       Feluda reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two of Satyajit Ray's novels featuring private investigator Feluda:        Yes, film director Ray also wrote a lot of basically young adult crime fiction -- almost three dozen works starring Feluda.

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

2 July 2019 - Tuesday

Writing in ... Georgia | New World Literature Today

       Writing in ... Georgia

       I mentioned the rumblings of discontent about this recently: the Georgian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport -- itself newly consolidated -- decreed a few weeks ago that the (existing and apparently quite successful) LEPLs ('Legal Entities under Public Law'; read the official explanation here, if you're really interested ...), the Georgian National Book Center and the Writer's House have been "abolished" -- and replaced by a new LEPL that is presumably meant to assume their functions, the "National Foundation of Georgian Literature" (ლიტერატურის ეროვნული ფონდი; I have not yet been able to find a website for it yet -- or even an official announcement of its creation, beyond that reporting the appointment of its first director, Irma Ratiani).
       The Georgian (and, admirably, the German) press are full of coverage about this -- and see now also English-language reports such as Ana Dumbadze's report in Georgia Today, Writers Boycott National Foundation of Georgian Literature, noting that:
Writers, translators, publishers and former employees of the abolished organizations are demanding the restoration of the abolished organizations and the abolishment of a newly established entity instead.
       The protestors promise: "Our boycott will be comprehensive and noisy".
       It's a shame: there's no question that the Georgian National Book Center did great work in support of Georgia's recent turn as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair (which is why the German publishing professionals, impressed by the Georgians' work, are so active in their support of their Georgian colleagues) -- though admittedly that hasn't (yet) extended to convincing US and UK publishers to take on many works ..... And it's certainly not good to hear that, for example: "the need for preparation for the Paris 2021 Book Fair are being completely ignored". Continued support for Georgian literature, domestically and abroad, would certainly be helpful (like in so many other places -- but the Georgians really seemed to be on the right track, until this recent going-off-the-rails ...).
       See also the Georgian literature under review at the complete review.

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

       New World Literature Today

       The Summer issue of World Literature Today is now out, with a focus on climate change -- and, as always, a nice big selection of book reviews.

       It is the 'Summer issue' which, yes, confirms that World Literature Today has gone seasonal -- and now only comes out four times a year. In 2018 it was a bi-monthly, so that's quite a fall back (though of course there may well be as much overall material, just spread out over fewer issues) -- though 2014 through 2017 they split the difference, with only five issues a year (bi-monthly, with a double issue covering the summer); the entire preceding decade they put out six issues annually. I mention this because -- coïncidentally or part of a larger trend ? -- for the first time since 2004, the current issue of the otherwise always monthly Words without Borders covers two months, June-July (i.e. they aren't putting out as much either).
       For all the apparent interest in literature in translation and international literature, even these leading publications are pulling (if ever so slightly) back ? It makes me worry/wonder .....
       (Somewhat similarly: traffic from the US was actually slightly up at the complete review in June, over May -- but the percentage of all traffic that is from the US was down to a low of just over 28 per cent -- far off the 40 per cent that was the norm just a few years ago: the site audience is increasingly international.)

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

1 July 2019 - Monday

Bachmannpreis | The Snow of the Admiral review


       They held the 'Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur' -- 'days of German literature' -- over the weekend; the centerpiece is the Bachmann Prize, the read- and judge-aloud prize whose previous winners include Gert Jonke (the first winner, back in 1977), Ulrich Plenzdorf, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, Terézia Mora, Lutz Seiler, and Maja Haderlap.
       The official site has all the information -- and all the texts, as well as Clemens Setz's opening speech (yes, all in German ...), while shigekuni has you covered in English, beginning with his post on #tddl: Germany's Next Literary Idol, 2019 edition.
       Der Schrank (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Birgit Birnbacher, was awarded the Bachmannpreis, while the prize that the public voted on (online), the BKS-Bank-Publikumspreis, went to Vierundsiebzig (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), by Ronya Rothmann.

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

       The Snow of the Admiral review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first of The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Álvaro Mutis, The Snow of the Admiral.

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

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