They've announced the shortlists for this year's The Hindu Prize, a leading Indian literary prize; among the fiction finalists is Upamanyu Chatterjee's collection of stories, The Assassination of Indira Gandhi; see also the Speaking Tiger publicity page.
The winners will be announced in April.
The five finalists for this year's RBC Taylor Prize, the Canadian prize whose mandate is: "to enhance public appreciation for the genre known as literary non-fiction", have been announced.
The winner will be announced on 2 March; it is the final time the prize will be awarded.
The Romain Rolland Book Prize is awarded by the French Institute of India for the best translation from the French into an Indian language, and they've now announced this year's finalists; see the ... Instagram post.
The finalists are three Astérix-volumes translated into Hindi, the Bengali traslation of Leïla Slimani's Chanson Douce, the Tamil translation of Hubert Haddad's Corps désirable, and a Malayalam translation of a Simone de Beauvoir.
The winner will be announced at the at Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on 23 January.
Most of the winners of the Society of Authors' Translation Prizes will only be announced at the ceremony 12 February, but they have now announced the winner of this year's Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation and it is Leri Price for her translation of Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa; see also the Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Neither, however, includes the second volume of Peter Weiss' The Aesthetics of Resistance, coming from Duke University Presss (fifteen years after the first volume was published in translation; there's still one more to go) -- surely one of the highlights of the year.
Latvian Literature export platform “Latvian Literature” spent 138 829 euros in 2019 translating and publishing 29 works of Latvian literature abroad
The 29 works were translated into 25 different languages.
I only finally got around to reviewing a work translated from the Latvian last year -- an Albert Bels novel -- and I'm very much looking forward to another Bels title, his Insomnia, forthcoming from Parthian Books.
They've announced the judges for the 2020 Booker Prize: Margaret Busby (chair), Lee Child, Sameer Rahim, Lemn Sissay, and Emily Wilson.
I wonder if Child will get them to confirm whether or not his publishers ever submitted any of his novels for the prize (though I think we all know the answer to that one ...).
(Outrageously, like many literary prizes, they don't reveal the titles that are actually considered for the prize.)
The longlist will be announced in July; the shortlist in September; and the winner 27 October.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Célia Houdart's 2011 novel, Quarry, now (just about) out in English from Dalkey Archive Press.
An impressive command here -- definitely an author I'd like to see more from.
(I hadn't seen any of her work previously; will definitely be keeping an eye out now; Villa Crimée (see the P.O.L. publicity page), for example, definitely sounds of interest.)
The Whitbread Costa Book Awards have announced the winners in the prize's five categories -- first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children's book --; these five titles are now in the running for the final Costa Book Award, to be announced 28 January.
One of the category winners -- best novel -- is under review at the complete review: Jonathan Coe's Middle England.
Vernon Subutex-author Virginie Despentes has resigned from the prix Goncourt-deciding Académie Goncourt -- though not for any scandalous reason: her official statement (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) explains that she needs/wants more time to write, and that she's relocating to Barcelona, which makes regular attendance in Paris more of an imposition.
For a while it was e-books that were the fastest growing sector in publishing, but now its audiobooks that are hot, and at the BBC site Clare Thorp reports on Audiobooks: The rise and rise of the books you don't read.
Impressive, what's now on offer -- including how fancy some of the productions have become -- but I'm afraid they fall on deaf ears as far as my reading-habits go; I remain devoted to text, plain and simple.
(Similarly, I still have never managed to listen to an online podcast; I'm no great video fan either.)
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. has an impressive overview of French Books in the U.S. - The 2020 Edition, covering all genres, complete with a full list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of all the titles.
Among the interesting notes, too:
In 2020, 117 fiction books, a majority of which were released in France over the last 3 years, will be published in the United States.
In contrast, in 2019 and 2018, over half of the translated publications dated back 5 and 10 years, respectively.
And it's (somewhat) surprising that only:
32% of the fiction books to be published in 2020 were written by women, a similar proportion to last year.
Beyond 117 fiction books, they report that 140 non-fiction books are scheduled, and 112 graphic novels.
The German magazine Comics has released their Comic-Bestenliste - 2019, with 30 critics voting on the top 20 comics published in Germany in 2019.
The top-ranked comic that originally appeared in English -- a Posy Simmonds -- only clocks in at sixth; overall it's an impressively international selection.
The erotic index was the most popular in 2018, but it plunged to fourth in 2019; surprisingly, the index to Indian literature fell all the way out of the top 10.
I received 437 review copies in 2019, a considerable (and very welcome) increase from the 384 received the previous year and the most since 2016.
The leading providers of review copies were mostly the usual suspects, with a particularly strong showing from university presses; Harvard University Press was propelled to the top spot in large measure by their various excellent bilingual classical series, beating out last year's leader New York Review Books, even though I received considerably more NYR titles in 2019 than 2018 (30, versus 23).
Big-five imprints contributed a fairly small number of titles -- though it was good to finally receive at least a decent selection of Pengun Classics (even if a considerable percentage were Simenons ...); World Editions was also a basically new source.
The top ten providers of review copies in 2019 were:
1. Harvard University Press (40)
2. New York Review Books (30)
3. Other Press (25)
4. Penguin Classics (19)
5. Oxford University Press (16)
6. Columbia University Press (14)
-. New Directions (14)
-. World Editions (14)
-. Yale University Press (14)
10. Dalkey Archive Press (13)
As of 31 December 2019 I had reviewed 102 of the titles acquired this way (i.e. not including library or bought books, etc.) --: 23.34% of all review copies received over the course of the year, and accounting for 48.80% of all titles reviewed.
(Amazingly, this is almost the exact number of 2018 review-copies reviewed by year's end in 2018, when it was 101.)
(Obviously, a considerable number of titles are only reviewed the year (or years ...) after they've been received/acquired -- I've already reviewed three more 2019 review-copies in 2020, for example, while 25 review-copies received in 2018 were reviewed in 2019.)
Books originally written in 45 languages (up slightly from 44 in 2018) were reviewed.
It's particularly nice to see that a significant number of languages weren't simply one-offs: more than one book in each of 21 languages was reviewed -- though there was also a particularly good showing for titles in English this year.
The top ten languages were:
1. English 46 (22.01% of all books) (2018: 35)
2. French 39 (2018: 37)
3. German 20.5 (17)
4. Japanese 18 (22)
5. Spanish 12 (13)
6. Dutch 7
7. Korean 5
-. Russian 5
9. Norwegian 4
10. Italian 3.5
Counting countries is a bit less useful, since they change (and occasionally disappear) over the decades and centuries, but books by authors from more or less 59 countries (or rather: 59 more or less countries) were reviewed (2018: 54), the top ten being:
1. France 30 (2018: 28)
2. UK 22 (13)
3. Japan 18 (22)
4. US 13
5. Germany 12
6. India 9
7. Austria 8
8. Belgium 7
9. Italy 5
-. Netherlands 5
Fiction was, as always, dominant: 163 of the reviews were of novels, along with reviews of three novellas and eight story-collections.
Eighteen works were of general non-fiction, along with six poetry collections and (disappointingly only) two dramas.
Recent publications again dominated, with 18 works originally published (in the language they were written in, not the English translation) in 2019, the scecond highest total for any year, behind 2017 (19).
Yet again, the 1980s were a (relatively) unpopular decade, while there was a big jump in titles from the 1960s (from 10 to 20):
Seven titles from the nineteenth century were reviewed, as well as seven from earlier than that -- slight increases in both categories.
The ratio of male-to-female authors was not good, but it was several points above the terrible historical average, with 22.01% of titles by women (46).
No title was graded 'A+' in 2019, but two were graded 'A':
As in 2018, the lowest grade was a 'C', and again it was only awarded to one title, Johanna Sinisalo's Renaten tarina.
Books reviewed ranged in length from 70 to 1582 pages (2018: 33/1152).
Only ten titles were over 500 pages long (2018: 16), and only nine were less than 100 pages long (2018: 15); while five were under 50 pages long in 2018, none were in 2019.
The total number of pages reviewed was down slightly, to 54,185 (compared to 56,101 in 2018), but the average reviewed book came in slightly longer, at 259.26 pages. the median -- 228 -- was also up from 2018 (220).
The length of the average review again increased significantly, to 1352 words (2018: 1167.76 words), and the reviews posted in 2019 totaled 282,561 words, almost 30,000 more than in 2018 (253,405).
The longest review was 6501 words long, two more were over 4000 words, and seventeen more over 2000; only one was under 500 words.
The median review was 1213 words long, up from 1063 in 2018.
Disappointingly, site traffic as a whole continued to decline: the number of visitors was down 10.00% compared to 2018, while page-views were down 6.73%.
At least there was a significant increase in traffic from a variety of countries, notably in eastern Asia -- traffic from China was up 56.75% (pushing it to 13th place, up from 24th in 2018) and from Japan it was up 24.98% (pushing it to 16th place, up from 22nd in 2018).
There were visitors from 221 countries and territories in 2019 (2018: 220).
The countries from which the most traffic came were:
United States (34.49%; 2018: 33.17%;)
United Kingdom (7.55%)
The top ten nations remained unchanged, with only the Netherlands and South Africa switching positions.
Visitors to the site still overwhelmingly reach it via search-queries -- and Google search queries at that (Bing, DuckDuckGo, and anything else are barely a trickle compared to the Google flood) -- while outside site-referrals continue to depressingly barely rate a mention.
Only two titles shifted double-digit amounts of copies purchased by users via the Amazon.com links on the review-pages -- The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor by Cameron McCabe and Waves by Eduard von Keyserling.
As usual, I am disappointed by the many books I didn't get to, and that I didn't cover an even greater variety of titles (language, genre, period), but overall I think it was a pretty decent selection.
And there's always next (this) year .....
Livres Hebdo/GFK have determined the top twenty bestselling titles in France over the past decade; the article reporting on this is (largely) paywalled, but you can actually find and click through all twenty titles in the 'Livres cités (20)'-column on the left side of the piece .....
The top seller was Stéphane Hessel's Time for Outrage !, followed by quite a few Asterix-comics (four of the next five titles).
Impressively, Elena Ferrante (just) beat out E.L.James (though with four titles in the top 20, her series as a whole did better) -- and Camus' The Stranger came in a strong eleventh.
Two other titles are under review at the complete review: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (17th) and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (18th).
No actual sales numbers, however .....
I always enjoy the personal and personal-website/blog year-in-review/reading overviews, especially when they share books-read lists and numbers and statistics; The Millions always has their 'A Year in Reading'-collection -- from almost a hundred authors this year, which is enough to keep you busy for a while -- but here are a small selection of other posts from readers and sites I also follow:
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marion Poschmann's The Pine Islands.
This German Book Prize-shortlisted title came out in the UK last year from Serpent's Tail (and was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize); it's only coming to North America in April, from Coach House Books, but is certainly something to look out for.
The Winter issue of World Literature Today is now out, with a special section on 'The NSK Neustadt Prize: Margarita Engle'; lots of great content for the weekend -- especially, of course, the regular large collection of book reviews.
In this week's Times Literary Supplement they offer: 'Some nominations for out-of-print books that deserve to be rediscovered and republished', in Tales of reconstruction, an always interesting exercise.
Among those offering suggestions are William Boyd, Gabriel Josipovici, Caroline Moorehead, Ali Smith, and Marina Warner -- and yes, there are some very worthy choices here.
As usual, most of the most popular reviews at the complete review for the year were much the same as the previous year -- though 16 of this year's top 50 weren't on the 2018 list, considerably more turnover than last year (when there were only ten different titles).
The top ten -- all of which had been in the top fifteen in 2018 -- were:
Only two 2019 titles cracked the top 50: Neal Stephenson's Fall (20th) and Ian McEwan's Machines Like Me (44th)
I was also pleased to see two reviews from the previous two years break into the top 50: the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom (30th) and Thomas Mofolo's Chaka (43rd).
They've announced the winners of this year's German mystery-book prize.
Berlin Prepper, by Johannes Groschupf, won the German-language category; see also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page.
Hannelore Cayre's La daronne won the international category; it's been published in English, as The Godmother; see the publicity pages from Old Street Publishing and ECW Press, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; it's already picked up a couple of other prizes.
The full 2019 year-in-numbers post will follow in a few days, but it was a year like most hereabouts: just over 200 reviews, covering a wide range of books (mostly fiction) from a very wide range of languages.
I don't expect 2020 to be much different -- though I do hope to cover certain areas better: more older books, especially classical literature; more drama; some more non-fiction.
I have found my short-story-collection antipathy to continue to grow stronger, but will continue to have to deal with some (the backlog of significant collections keeps growing, too ...).
I continue to find reading in e-formats annoying and have been avoiding that as much as possible too -- also problematic, because quite a few promising titles are only accessible to me as such; I'll try and cover more, but I do hate the format.
As always, I appreciate your continuing patronage, and I'm glad you continue to find the site of use and interest.
Looking forward to 2020 -- with much good reading for us all, I hope !