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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 July 2019

21 July: Philip Roth estate auction | Translation from ... Thai
22 July: Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists | The Untranslated Q & A | Empty Hearts review
23 July: Neustadt Prize finalists | Holbrooke Award
24 July: Booker Prize longlist | Asian literature abroad | Good Enough review
25 July: National Museum of Korean Literature preview | Korean-Japanese tensions | The Old Man and His Sons review
26 July: CWA Daggers shortlists | BoJo and Flashman | 9mobile Prize update
27 July: Literary estates | Houellebecq picks up prize
28 July: Translations from ... the Chinese | Kelidar Street
29 July: Chinese online literature | 'Twice Told'
30 July: Olga Tokarczuk profile | BTBA 2020 | Looking forward to Salzburg
31 July: Miles Franklin Literary Award | Hargeysa International Book Fair | MoLI preview | Käsebier Takes Berlin review

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31 July 2019 - Wednesday

Miles Franklin Literary Award | Hargeysa International Book Fair
MoLI preview | Käsebier Takes Berlin review

       Miles Franklin Literary Award

       They've announced that Too Much Lip, by Melissa Lucashenko, has been awarded this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, one of the leading Australian novel prizes.
       It doesn't appear to have a US or UK publisher yet, but see the University of Queensland Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

       (Updated - 3 August): See now also a brief profile by Stephanie Convery in The Guardian, Miles Franklin 2019 winner Melissa Lucashenko: 'We need a revolution'.

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

       Hargeysa International Book Fair

       They held the Hargeysa International Book Fair 20 to 25 July, and in the Mail & Guardian Zukiswa Wanner reports on it, offering A literary snapshot of Somaliland.

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

       MoLI preview

       The Irish Times reports that the Museum of Literature Ireland to open for first time on Culture Night -- which would be 20 September.
       See also the official MoLI site -- looks promising.

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

       Käsebier Takes Berlin review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gabriele Tergit's 1931 novel, Käsebier Takes Berlin, now out in English from New York Review Books.

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

30 July 2019 - Tuesday

Olga Tokarczuk profile | BTBA 2020
Looking forward to Salzburg

       Olga Tokarczuk profile

       In the current The New Yorker Ruth Franklin profiles "Olga Tokarczuk, who in recent years has established herself as Poland’s preëminent novelist and is frequently mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature", in Olga Tokarczuk's Novels Against Nationalism
       Tokarczuk's Flights was awarded the 2018 Man Booker International Prize.

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

       BTBA 2020

       The (American) Best Translated Book Award has published information on next year's prize (for books published in the US in 2019), including tentative dates (very tentative ? -- both the finalists and the winner are to be announced 27 May ?) and information about the judges.
       Meanwhile, at The Mookse and the Gripes Goodreads forum you can -- and should ! -- already engage in 2020 BTBA Speculation.
       And publishers of eligible translated fiction and poetry are of course strongly encouraged to start submitting !

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

       Looking forward to Salzburg

       The Salzburg Festival is already well underway -- see, for example, also Peter Sellars' keynote address -- and yours truly will be preforming, too, on Sunday, 11 August: a lecture On Reading (well, in German, so: 'Über das Lesen') in the 'Drama Investigations'-series.
       Ironically -- if entirely predictably -- my preparations have cut into my reading time (not to mention my reviewing time ...), but I am fairly pleased with the more or less finished working draft and looking forward to the event.
       Hope to see some of you there !

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

29 July 2019 - Monday

Chinese online literature | 'Twice Told'

       Chinese online literature

       At Pandaily Gabriel Li wonders Are Chinese Online Novels the McDonald's of Literature ?
       Apparently: "In most people's eyes, it is equivalent to fast food creations with cheesy plots and stereotypical characters" -- but it's: "been wildly popular across China, especially in lower-tier cities" .....

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

       'Twice Told'

       At Soumya Rao writes about Twice told: A pop-up event puts the spotlight on Mumbai's second-hand booksellers.
       The event, held 19 to 22 July, included second-hand booksellers
       Sounds pretty neat.

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

28 July 2019 - Sunday

Translations from ... the Chinese | Kelidar Street

       Translations from ... the Chinese

       At Quartzy: Here's What Every Chinese Book Recently Translated for the US is About, with brief descriptions -- a useful quick overview.
       Several of these titles are already under review at the complete review, and I expect to get to some more .....

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

       Kelidar Street

       The Tehran Times reports Sabzevar street named after writer Mahmud Dowlatabadi’s novel “Kelidar” -- as in Kelidar, the first two volumes of which have been translated into German, but, alas, not into English.
       Always good to see any sort of recognition for this great writer.

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

27 July 2019 - Saturday

Literary estates | Houellebecq picks up prize

       Literary estates

       In the Financial Times John Gapper writes at some length on Death is not the end: the lucrative world of literary estates [paywalled ?].
While much of publishing is focused on new writers and the living, estates are gaining in value. An insatiable appetite among the producers of streaming television for material, together with the expansion of audio and ebooks, and the globalisation of the publishing industry, has boosted the appeal of long-established literary backlists.
       I'm not sure how good news it is that:
There is no more powerful way to stimulate interest in a writer than through television and film, and many estates are trying to attract content-hungry companies such as Netflix.
       Not every author needs a TV deal to cash in elsewhere:
Earlier this year, [Andrew] Wylie sold Chinese-language publishing rights to the works of Argentine novelist Jorge Luis Borges, on behalf of his estate, for a seven-figure sum -- 10 times the amount they fetched when last auctioned some eight years ago.

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

       Houellebecq picks up prize

       Puffing on his e-cigarette, Michel Houellebecq picked up the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in Salzburg yesterday; see also, for example, the ORF report, Der höfliche Herr Houellebecq, for some pictures, as well as the report by Almuth Spiegler in Die Presse (both in German).
       He was apparently on his best behavior -- and quoted Thomas Bernhard in his acceptance speech.

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

26 July 2019 - Friday

CWA Daggers shortlists | BoJo and Flashman
9mobile Prize update

       CWA Daggers shortlists

       The British Crime Writers' Association has announced the shortlists for its 2019 CWA Daggers.
       Three of the CWA International Dagger finalists -- "for crime novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication during the Judging Period" -- are under review at the complete review:        The winners will be announced 24 October.

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

       BoJo and Flashman

       At the Penguin (UK) site Alex Larman wonders What does Boris Johnson's literary hero tell us about our new Prime Minister ?
       Yes, the new PM is a fan of George MacDonald Fraser's great creation, Flashman.
       Well, if it gets more attention for the entertaining series .....

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

       9mobile Prize update

       I recently mentioned the questions around the seemingly stopped in its tracks (last year) 9mobile Prize for Literature, and now Ozolua Uhakheme reports in The Nation that 9mobile restates commitment to redeem 2018 prize for literature.
       But, yes, that's 2018 -- and while it's nice that they are planning on tying up that loose end, it would appear there's not much going forward .....

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

25 July 2019 - Thursday

National Museum of Korean Literature preview | Korean-Japanese tensions
The Old Man and His Sons review

       National Museum of Korean Literature preview

       It's still a couple of years away from opening, but in The Korea Herald Im Eun-byel reports on how the National Museum of Korean Literature to be more than repository of books.

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

       Korean-Japanese tensions

       As you may have heard/noticed, tensions between Japan and South Korea have been rising -- see, for example, Tom Miles' Japan Today report, Japan, South Korea clash at WTO over trade dispute -- and while this has trickled down to some cross-border activity -- e.g. some South Korean gas stations are refusing to refuel Japanese-made cars -- it hasn't too adversely affected the publication and popularity of Japanese fiction in South Korea -- yet --, with Kang Hyun-kyung reporting in The Korea Times that Japanese novels, musicians unfazed by consumer boycott.
According to the nation's largest bookstore Kyobo Books, Koreans still love Japanese fiction. Every one out of five newly released books in July was written by a Japanese author. Japanese novels still have a strong presence in bookstores. According to Kyobo Books, among the top 10 best-selling books, three are written by Japanese authors. Six Japanese novels made the top 20 best sellers list of July.
       Still: "many publishing houses are canceling prescheduled books or suspending plans to release books written by Japanese authors", which doesn't sound good .....

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

       The Old Man and His Sons review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Heðin Brú's 1940 Faroese classic, The Old Man and His Sons

       It's not the first book by a Faroese author under review, but it is the first that was translated from the Faroese; the translation actually first came out in 1970, but it's good to see it (fairly) recently re-issued.
       (A new German edition also recently came out: they've published this under three different titles (hoping one would catch on ?): Vater und Sohn unterwegs ('Father and son underway'), Des armen Mannes Ehre ('The poor man's honor'), and Ketil und die Wale ('Ketil and the whales').)

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

24 July 2019 - Wednesday

Booker Prize longlist | Asian literature abroad | Good Enough review

       Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the thirteen-title longlist for this year's de-manned Booker Prize, chosen from 151 (regrettably unrevealed) novels
       One of the titles is actually under review at the complete review -- My Sister, The Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite -- and while I haven't seen any of the others, there are several I do hope to get to, notably Ducks, Newburyport and Frankissstein.
       Quite a few big names on this popular-leaning-but-with-a-few-outliers list, including Margaret Atwood, John Lanchester, Deborah Levy, Elif Shafak -- and Salman Rushdie.
       The shortlist will be announced 3 September; the winner on 14 October.

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

       Asian literature abroad

       In the Taipei Times Sherry Hsiao reports that Interest in Asian literature grows (though the focus here is very much on the English-language market(s)).

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

       Good Enough review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Daniel S. Milo's Darwinian study on The Tolerance for Mediocrity in Nature and Society, in Good Enough, recently out from Harvard University Press.

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

23 July 2019 - Tuesday

Neustadt Prize finalists | Holbrooke Award

       Neustadt Prize finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature -- the biannual $50,000 prize with nine jurors, each of which got to select one of the finalists.
       The finalists are:        Carrère was also a finalist in 2018 .....
       The nine jurors will get together next fall to decide who gets the prize; the winner will be announced 16 October 2020.

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

       Holbrooke Award

       The Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced that N. Scott Momaday will receive the 2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award; John Irving got it last year. Momaday gets to pick it up at the awards ceremony on 3 November.
       The finalists for the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize itself will be announced on 13 August.

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

22 July 2019 - Monday

Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists | The Untranslated Q & A
Empty Hearts review

       Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists

       The shortlists for the (South African) Sunday Times Literary Awards have been announced -- five books each for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and the (non-fiction) Alan Paton Award.

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

       The Untranslated Q & A

       At The Collidescope George Salis has a Q & A, Towers of Babel: An Interview with The Founder of The Untranslated -- as in The Untranslated, which you should certainly be familiar with.

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

       Empty Hearts review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Juli Zeh's thriller, Empty Hearts, coming next month from Nan A. Talese.

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

21 July 2019 - Sunday

Philip Roth estate auction | Translation from ... Thai

       Philip Roth estate auction

       They auctioned off a bunch of stuff from The Plot Against America (etc.)-author Philip Roth's estate yesterday.
       A lot of furniture and household stuff went under the hammer -- down to the patio furniture -- and fairly little that's literature-related. At least most of the stuff went for more than the estimates (the television stand -- despite being in: "good condition used, sturdy" and: "From the Roth Living Room" ! -- was one of the few real bargain items).
       There were three typewriters up for auction: an Olivetti Lettera 32 with Case (estimate: US$300-500; sold for $17,500), and two IBM Selectric IIs, the first of which had an estimate of US$100-150 (seriously, what were they thinking ?) and sold for $5,000, the second of which had an estimate of US$150-250 and sold for $4,800
       I remind you that nearly a decade ago Cormac McCarthy's Olivetti went for US$254,500 .....

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

       Translation from ... Thai

       In the Nikkei Asian Review Max Crosbie-Jones reports on Found in translation: Thai literature reaches West. ("West" here means "English", sigh .....)
       Finally, a trickle of Thai works is appearing in the US/UK -- notably two by Duanwad Pimwana (I have both, and should be getting to them) -- but there's still a long way to go.
       Among the interesting observations:
Prabda [Yoon] said the fact that all but one of the recent releases were translated by Mui [Poopoksakul] is as worrying as it is impressive.
       And good to see a (small) nod to Marcel Barang and his efforts with Thai Fiction in Translation.

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

previous entries (11 - 20 July 2019)

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