ArabLit's annual feature where: "authors, critics, and contributors recommend their favorites of 2019" is now up: ArabLit's List: Best Reads of 2019.
Mainly titles that have not (yet) been translated from the Arabic -- and some from other languages, available in Arabic but not in English (including an Ogawa Yoko novel(la) !) -- but certainly an interesting selection.
Limited to books they've reviewed -- but they do review a lot -- Foreign Affairs now offers The Best of Books 2019.
It's basically limited to non-fiction, too -- though Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive does slip in.
Among all the best books of the year lists, there's far too little mention of what fell short.
Thankfully, Steve Donoghue does also annually compile worst lists -- and his The Worst Books of 2019: Fiction ! is now up at the Open Letter Review.
Mainly high-profile titles, and many by very high-profile authors -- though amazingly I have not only not read but actually not seen a one of these.
(I mean, I've seen them in bookstores and libraries etc., but haven't taken one in hand and did not receive any of them as a review copy.)
They've announced the twelve-title longlist for the 2020 Wingate Literary Prize -- "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader".
Two of the titles are under review at the complete review: Kafka's Last Trial by Benjamin Balint and The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard.
They've announced the winners of this year's Athens Prize for Literature in its two novel categories, Greek and translated.
Fernando Aramburu's Homeland was named the best translated novel, beating out Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, Mike McCormack's Solar Bones, David Foenkinos' Charlotte (!), Lutz Seiler's Kruso, and Paul Auster's 4321, among others.
Homeland also appeared in English translation this year, but I haven't seen it yet; see also the Pantheon publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Kostas Akrivos' Γάλα μαγνησίας was named best Greek novel; see, for example, the Μεταίχμιο page and the (Greek) magnesia report.
You can find all the finalists in this preview article.
They've announced the longlist (and the judges) for the 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the leading Arabic-language literary award.
Sixteen novels were selected from 128 entries.
A shortlist of six titles will be announced 4 February, and the winner on 14 April.
They've announced the shortlists for the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize, a prize for: "the best unpublished manuscript or book published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir, and graphic novels", in Kiswahili -- not yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, their tweet, or a copy of the press release.
The finalists were selected from 96 entries.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's Les prénoms épicènes.
This is the 25th Nothomb under review at the complete review, so I'm now just three short of the complete works.
Or at least the complete published works, as Nothomb famously writes some four books a year but only publishes one; there are apparently some seventy-odd in the drawer(s) .....
An interesting (German) article by Carla Neuhaus on the German book-distribution system -- and what happens when the distributors don't carry all a publisher's titels -- in Der Tagesspiegel, "Wir sind mitten drin im Verlagssterben".
Among the examples they give: ten titles by Officer Pembry-author Giwi Margwelaschwili are in print from Verbrecher Verlag -- but many booksellers can only order two of them for readers.
Meanwhile, Amrûn Verlag reports that only 100 of its 180 titles are available via distributors -- i.e. almost half its titles are inaccessible for most booksellers (and hence most book-buyers).
The recent bankruptcy of one of the major distributors, KNV, compounded the problem.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of John Franklin Bardin's Purloining Tiny.
Bardin is best-known for a trio of novels published just after the Second World War -- The Deadly Percheron, Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly, and The Last of Philip Banter -- and this one, written three decades later, has the reputation of being something of a very late in the day and somewhat desperate effort to try to repeat the same trick(s) of these works from his glory days, but I found it rather better than its reputation suggested.
Still, the Penguin omnibus edition of the earlier trio is the one to get ... (get yours at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
At Paper Republic Nicky Harman tallies the 2019 Book Translations from Chinese into English -- coming up with only 27, way down from last year.
Shockingly, too, only three of those twenty-seven are by women authors.
A useful overview -- though disappointingly, aside from The Handsome Monk I've only seen a single one of these titles (the Jia Pingwa).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Comic Play from Seventeenth-Century China by Li Yu, A Couple of Soles, just out from Columbia University Press.
I only knew Li Yu from his novel, The Carnal Prayer Mat, but he was a leading playwright of his time; surprisingly, this is apparently the first of his ten surviving stageworks to be translated into English.
I've been meaning/hoping to cover more plays, especially classical ones, but one of the problems with covering them is that they're often printed in collections and I prefer to review them individually; this one at least has the advantage of being a one-volume, one-play edition.
Still, I do hope to pick and choose from the many impressive collections I've accumulated and review more plays .....
They've announced the longlists for the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards.
Lots of categories here, including the PEN Translation Prize ("for a book-length translation of prose") and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
Two of the ten longlisted titles for the PEN Translation Prize are under review at the complete review:
At Dusk, by Hwang Sok-yong; translated by Sora Kim-Russell
I have several more of these, and do hope to get to some of them.
And interesting to see that an AmazonCrossing title is in the running (The Dead Wander in the Desert, by Rollan Seisenbayev).
There is also one of the titles longlisted for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation under review:
Another foreign best-of-the-year list: in Spain, the year-end El País-list is the big one, but before we get that Vanity Fair (Spain) offer what they consider Los 42 mejores libros del año.
A lot in (Spanish) translation -- including many from English -- but at least that means many are also available in English .....
At the Center for the Art of Translation blog Chad Felix has Indie Booksellers Share Their Favorite Translations of the Decade -- twenty-three works of literature in translation.
Lots of great titles here -- and several that are obvious choices, including Anniversaries and Zibaldone, but John E. Woods' translation of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream only gets an incidental mention ("which I'd venture to say is more admired than read") ?
Slightly disappointing too: only one title not translated from a European language (and French and Spanish ... very well represented).
I haven't seen any discussion of the extent to which this year's Nobel Prize in Literature announcements have had an effect on sales of books by laureates Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, but at Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel offers a look at How the Nobel Prize affects book sales, mainly in the German-speaking world.
Interesting, for example, that:
The publisher mentions the case of Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz, who was unexpectedly named the winner in 1988: "Nobody knew him, or even how to spell his name right.
We had sold 300 copies in three years — and then 30,000 in three minutes."
(In German they write his name: 'Nagib Machfus' .....)
As to this year's prizes: Handke has always been a big seller in German, but: "In the seven weeks following the announcement of the Nobel Prize, Suhrkamp sold 150,000 copies of Handke's books, according to press spokesperson Tanja Postpischil".
As to Tokarczuk:
Her 1,200-page opus magnum, The Books of Jacob, was published in German 10 days before she was awarded a Nobel Prize.
Before the announcement, Kampa had sold about 1,200 copies.
After that, the 3,000 copies of the available print run were sold out in no time.
No doubt, they've sold quite a few more copies since.
Instead of a 'best of 2019'-list, the Colombian publication Arcadia had a jury of 91 people select a hundred titles by Spanish women authors from the past century -- Cien años, cien libros de escritoras en español (with Portuguese-writing Clarice Lispector sneaking her way onto the list).
The official site presents the titles in rather annoying slideshow fashion, so see, for example, the whole list more conveniently at infobae.
At the Universität Duisburg-Essen they have a research project, Literaturpreise im deutschsprachigen Raum seit 1990: Funktionen und Wirkungen -- a project that: "intends a comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon of literary prizes in the German speaking cultural area since 1990 examining its functions for and effects on the literary field, cultural policies, and the publishing world".
At Börsenblatt they have a Q & A two of those involved in the project, Sarah Maaß and Dennis Borghardt, in Mehr Literaturpreise, mehr Wettbewerb, mehr Publikumsbeteiligung.
Some interesting titbits, including that there are currently some 950 literary prizes in Germany (though not all are awarded annually -- in 2018 only 579 were).
At World Literature Today they have their 75 Notable Translations of 2019.
As usual, this is a fairly useful overview of much that has appeared in translation in the US over the past year -- but, as they acknowledge, it is: "admittedly incomplete"; notable omissions include the Marquis de Sade's Aline and Valcour, certainly one of this year's more interesting translations.