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

11 - 20 July 2019

11 July: Studio Créole | Iris Murdoch | Somehow, Crystal review
12 July: Man International Booker Prize judges | FLIP | Prix littéraire « Le Monde » longlist
13 July: Alasdair Gray profile | German 'Hotlist'
14 July: 9mobile Prize for Literature ? | Publishing in ... Iraq | Fidelity & Constraint review
15 July: Children's literature in ... India | Human Matter review
16 July: 'Second-Half 2019 Book Preview' | A Double Life review
17 July: Hong Kong Book Fair | 'World's top thinkers' ? | Georges Perec
18 July: Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019) | Neal Stephenson conversation | Translation ... from Russian into Chinese
19 July: Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes | Luciano De Crescenzo (1928-2019) | New Asymptote | Adrift in the Middle Kingdom review
20 July: Translating from ... Russian to Pashto | Bathroom literature

go to weblog

return to main archive

20 July 2019 - Saturday

Translating from ... Russian to Pashto | Bathroom literature

       Translating from ... Russian to Pashto

       Amie Ferris-Rotman reports in The Washington Post how This Afghan ambassador in Moscow mixes diplomacy and Dostoevsky as admirably: "When [Latif] Bahand is not navigating his country's changing relationship with Moscow, he is translating".
       He's working on Crime and Punishment, and has already translated And Quiet Flows the Don, War and Peace, and Anna Karenina.
       Interesting too that:
There was also a shortage of words to work with. Russian has around 150,000 words in current usage; Pashto has around 100,000. "It's like taking a vase of water and trying to fit it into a teacup."

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

       Bathroom literature

       In the Taiwan News Lyla Liu reports that a Bathroom literature exhibition in Taipei aims to promote gender equality, as there are: "36 compositions displayed in restrooms of National Museum of Taiwan Literature".
       I'm not sure about some of this:
In the first-floor lobby, visitors can view an art installation, "Flowers in the Toilet." It symbolizes literature's irrigation of the human mind, which, like plants, need to be watered to grow stronger, said the museum.

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

19 July 2019 - Friday

Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes | Luciano De Crescenzo (1928-2019)
New Asymptote | Adrift in the Middle Kingdom review

       Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes

       They've announced the latest winners of the biannual Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes; see, for example, the Kyodo News report, Two women named for Japan's Akutagawa, Naoki literary awards.
       Imamura Natsuko (今村 夏子) won the Akutagawa Prize for むらさきのスカートの女; see also the Asahi publicity page.
       Oshima Masumi (大島真寿美) won the Naoki Prize for 渦 妹背山婦女庭訓 魂結び; see also the Bunshun publicity page.

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

       Luciano De Crescenzo (1928-2019)

       Italian author Luciano De Crescenzo has passed away; see, for example, the ANSA report.
       His Thus Spake Bellavista attracted some attention when it came out in English; get your copy at or

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

       New Asymptote

       The July issue of Asymptote is now out -- as always, loads of material of interest, including a Q & A with Edith Grossman.

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

       Adrift in the Middle Kingdom review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jan Jacob Slauerhoff's 1934 novel, Adrift in the Middle Kingdom, coming out from Handheld Press.

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

18 July 2019 - Thursday

Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019) | Neal Stephenson conversation
Translation ... from Russian into Chinese

       Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019)

       Italian author Andrea Camilleri, best known for his Inspector Montalbano mystery series, has passed away; see, for example, the obituaries in The Guardian and The New York Times and Mark Lawson on how Andrea Camilleri had a late but great career in crime writing.
       The only book by Camilleri under review at the complete review is his Hunting Season; I do have a pile of the Montalbano books and should get to some eventually.

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

       Neal Stephenson conversation

       Tyler Cowen's latest conversation is with Fall-author Neal Stephenson on Depictions of Reality (and a lot more).

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

       Translation ... from Russian into Chinese

       In the Global Times Chen Xi reports New 22-volume collection gathers the complete works of China's most famous Russian-to-Chinese translator as, impressively, translator Cao Ying (Sheng Junfeng) is apparently well-known enough that they published The Complete Translations of Cao Ying (草婴译著全集; see a picture).
       In how many other languages would a translator get billing and a collection like that published ?
       The collection includes twelve volumes of Tolstoy and seven of Sholokhov and Lermontov.

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

17 July 2019 - Wednesday

Hong Kong Book Fair | 'World's top thinkers' ? | Georges Perec

       Hong Kong Book Fair

       The Hong Kong Book Fair opens today and runs through the 23rd; with ongoing protests in town that should be ... interesting.
       See also Erica Fong's preview in the Hong Kong Tatler, Hong Kong Book Fair 2019: Everything You Need To Know.

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

       'World's top thinkers' ?

       Prospect has made their list of The world's top 50 thinkers 2019.

       Books by three of those on the list are under review at the complete review: Svetlana Alexievich (Voices from Chernobyl), Robert Alter (The Art of Bible Translation), and Adam Tooze (Crashed and The Wages of Destruction).

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

       Georges Perec

       At The New Yorker's Page-Turner Paul Grimstad writes on The Absolute Originality of Georges Perec.

       With thirteen titles by Perec under review at the complete review -- along with David Bellos' wonderful biography I am obviously a big fan .....

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

16 July 2019 - Tuesday

'Second-Half 2019 Book Preview' | A Double Life review

       'Second-Half 2019 Book Preview'

       The Millions has their Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2019 Book Preview, with more than a hundred (mainly pretty mainstream) US titles.
       Only two of these are already under review at the complete review -- The Memory Police by Ogawa Yoko and Doppelgänger by Daša Drndić --, and I only have one more of them (Empty Hearts by Juli Zeh, which I should be getting to soon); I do suspect/hope there are a lot more other interesting titles out there beyond these.

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

       A Double Life review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Karolina Pavlova's A Double Life, out in a new edition in Columbia University Press' Russian Library.
       This is Pavlova's only novel, but she has an interesting biography, from being tutored in Polish by Adam Mickiewicz ("she already knew Russian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch, as well as Russian" translator Barbara Heldt notes (slightly overenthusiastically ...) in her Introduction) to the literary circles she moved in -- though she had a hard time in the very male and sexist Russian literary world of the time.

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

15 July 2019 - Monday

Children's literature in ... India | Human Matter review

       Children's literature in ... India

       In the Firstpost Ruth Dsouza Prabhu reports on how Children's literature in India undergoes revolution as publishers experiment with regional languages, genres, which certainly sounds good.

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

       Human Matter review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rodrigo Rey Rosa's Human Matter: A Fiction, recently out from the University of Texas Press.

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

14 July 2019 - Sunday

9mobile Prize for Literature ? | Publishing in ... Iraq
Fidelity & Constraint review

       9mobile Prize for Literature ?

       The Etisalat Prize for Literature was a promising-looking prize for a best work of first fiction by an African author; winners include We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (the first winner, in 2013) and Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (2015). When Etisalat was taken over by 9mobile they continued the prize under their name -- now the 9mobile Prize for Literature -- until, apparently, they didn't .....
       Yes, there's still an official site, but it seems ... stuck on last year's shortlist, with the last news update dated 29 January 2018. Jennifer Malec reported on this a month ago in The Johannesburg Review of Books, in The mysterious demise of the 9mobile/Etisalat Prize for Literature -- the world's biggest Pan-African book award while Olayinka Oyegbile now wonders What happened to Etisalat literature prize ? in The Nation (Nigeria).
       What indeed.

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

       Publishing in ... Iraq

       In The Arab Weekly Khulud al-Fallah reports that Iraqi publishing industry faces challenges in fast-moving landscape.
       Publisher and bookseller Safa Diab is quoted:
He said novels were "currently losing a bit of their lustre" because of declining quality.

"Some books just carry the phrase 'A Novel' on the cover. The best proof of the loss of popularity of the novel is its dwindling sales at book fairs in the Arab world during the past two years," he said.
       Well, that is disappointing.

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

       Fidelity & Constraint review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lawrence Lessig on How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution, in Fidelity & Constraint, recently out from Oxford University Press.

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

13 July 2019 - Saturday

Alasdair Gray profile | German 'Hotlist'

       Alasdair Gray profile

       In Prospect Stephanie Boland profiles the Poor Things (etc.) author, in Alasdair Gray’s literary socialism
       His essay collection, Of Me and Others, is recently out from Canongate; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       German 'Hotlist'

       The German 'Hotlist' invites all German-language independent publishing houses to submit one book to compete in a three-phase competition that begins with the Hotlist board of trustees selecting a longlist of thirty titles, which the public can then vote on (though only the top three vote-getters make the final ten; the remaining seven titles are chosen by the Hotlist jury); the jury then picks the winning publisher (it is the publisher, rather than the book/author that gets the cash).
       They've now announced the thirty-title longlist -- and opened the voting. (Admirably, they also reveal all 160 submitted titles, as every literary prize should .....)
       This gives a good overview of what independent German publishers are publishing -- even if the one-book-per-publisher limit is rather ... limiting. They do include some big names: among authors in translation with books in the final thirty are Anthony Burgess, Patrick Deville, Helen Oyeyemi, and Boualem Sansal.

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

12 July 2019 - Friday

Man International Booker Prize judges | FLIP
Prix littéraire « Le Monde » longlist

       Man International Booker Prize judges

       They've announced the judges for the 2020 [no-longer-'Man'] International Booker Prize, and they are: Ted Hodgkinson (chair), Lucie Campos, Jennifer Croft, Valeria Luiselli, and Jeet Thayil.
       The longlist will be announced in March 2020.

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


       The Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty runs through Sunday.
       In The Rio Times Richard Mann has a thorough overview, in Paraty Hosts 17th Edition of its International Literary Festival Through Sunday.

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

       Prix littéraire « Le Monde » longlist

       With the start of the French 'rentrée littéraire' -- the fall book-flood, this year with 524 titles (down from 567 last year (and 727 in 2007 ...)) -- the longlists for the fall book prizes start appearing -- a good overview of some of the interesting new titles coming up.
       The Prix du Roman Fnac -- which considers both French fiction (there are 366 in this year's rentrée) and translated fiction (188) -- has announced its huge, thirty-title selection, which includes titles by Nathacha Appanah, Laurent Binet, Marie Darrieussecq, Edna O'Brien, and Juli Zeh.
       The prix littéraire « Le Monde » has also announced its (considerably shorter) longlist; it also includes new books by Leonora Miano and Jean-Philippe Toussaint (La Clé USB; see the Les Éditions de Minuit publicity page).

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

11 July 2019 - Thursday

Studio Créole | Iris Murdoch | Somehow, Crystal review

       Studio Créole

       Among the events at this year's Manchester International Festival is Studio Créole: "an intimate laboratory for stories where we can hear writers read in their original language and simultaneously listen to a live translation, channeled through a lone performer", which runs from 12 to 14 July.
       The seven writers involved are: Patrick Chamoiseau, Sayaka Murata, Adania Shibli, Sjón, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Dubravka Ugrešić, and Alejandro Zambra -- quite the line-up ! -- while the project was conceived and is curated by Adam Thirlwell, is co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and was designed by Rem Koolhaas and Cookies.
       At the Times Literary Supplement Thirlwell has an introductory overview as he "considers the history of créolité and literature transcending a single language" in World literature: lightness, multiplicity, transformation.

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

       Iris Murdoch

       Lots of Iris Murdoch material in this week's Times Literary Supplement -- it's her centenary; she would have turned 100 on the fifteenth -- including them having their "contributors reflect on the novelist's impact" in What does Iris Murdoch mean to you now ?
       I'm a huge fan -- and pleased that there are still a few of her works I haven't gotten to; I only got around to An Accidental Man last year, and it was the best book I read all year.

       (Updated): Iris Murdoch coverage abounds -- see now also Leo Robson on Iris the insoluble in the New Statesman -- though obviously I move in the wrong circles (at least on the internet) and can find no evidence that: "Iris Murdoch's work has fallen out of fashion", as everyone (properly) gushes about her work. Even before the current centenary-interest, I don't think any title has popped up on the weblogs and Twitter-feeds I read, going back many, many years as often as a favorite read as The Sea, the Sea (though obviously that's influenced by what weblogs/Twitter-feeds I follow -- my kind of readers ...).

       (Updated - 14 July): See now also Alex Clark in The Guardian on Iris Murdoch at 100: 'Her books are full of passion and disaster'.

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

       Somehow, Crystal review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanaka Yasuo's 1981 novel, Somehow, Crystal, just out from Kurodahan Press.

       I review far too few books that I read before I started the site but I actually have read this one before -- the German translation, some twenty-five years ago. It's not a great book, but of enough interest that it was certainly worth covering (if not necessarily revisiting ...) -- and I fear it won't get all that much coverage otherwise (though surely The Japan Times will at least get to it). Indeed, it's notable enough -- for several reasons -- that if the English translation had been available I would have mentioned it in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
       If you need further convincing/tempting: Sayonara, Gangsters-author Takahashi Gen'ichirō wrote the Introduction to this -- and he concludes it by suggesting:
There has never been anther novel like this, nor is there likely to be on in the future. I can think of no other novel that so deeply and thoroughly confronts capitalist society. If Marx were still alive, his follow-up to Das Kapital would surely have been a novel like Somehow, Crystal.
       That last sentence is some tag-line; I hope some booksellers use it .....

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

previous entries (1 - 10 July 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