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The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 29 February 2020

21 February: Michael Hofmann Q & A | Text & Sprache longlist | Card Catalogue review
22 February: Translating ... Bangla literature | Roxy review
23 February: Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists | Helon Habila Q & A
24 February: 'Why read translations ?' | Oligarchy review
25 February: Translating Földényi | Sam Garrett profile
26 February: EBRD Literature Prize longlist | Folio Prize shortlist | International Booker Prize speculation | The Ocean of Mirth review
27 February: Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist | Sahitya Akademi Translation Awards | Translating Olga Tokarczuk
28 February: International Booker Prize longlist | Publishing in ... Mongolia
29 February: Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) | Bookselling in ... China | Ducks, Newburyport, the audiobook

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29 February 2020 - Saturday

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) | Bookselling in ... China
Ducks, Newburyport, the audiobook

       Freeman Dyson (1923-2020)

       Sad to hear that the always interesting thinker Freeman Dyson has passed away; see, for example, the Institute for Advanced Study report, Freeman J. Dyson (1923-2020), Scientist and Writer, Who Dreamt Among the Stars, Dies at 96, or The New York Times obituary by George Johnson.

       His Imagined Worlds and The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet are under review at the complete review.

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

       Bookselling in ... China

       Via I'm pointed to Kenrick Davis' piece at Sixth Tone looking at how China's Bookstores Band Together To Survive the Epidemic, as the spread of COVID-19 and the widespread lock-downs in the country have complicated the usual retail model: as one person puts it: "The arrival of this virus has destroyed people's consumption habits".
       And, yes, some amazing pictures of some of these stores -- let's hope they survive.

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

       Ducks, Newburyport, the audiobook

       Shamefully, I haven't yet finished/covered Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport -- but it's neat to hear that there's now an audio-version too, as Laura Snapes reports in The Guardian, in 'Surreal immediacy': how a 1,000-page novel became a 45-hour audiobook.
       I was particularly impressed to learn that: " the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) makes all [Booker Prize] shortlisted titles available to members of its library" -- and that it's now been picked up for commercial publication as well; see the W.F.Howes publicity page.
       (I'm still an all- and only-text reader, but the audio format has been gaining popularity, and it's certainly good to see this book too available as such.)

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

28 February 2020 - Friday

International Booker Prize longlist | Publishing in ... Mongolia

       International Booker Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's International Booker Prize.
       The thirteen titles were selected from 124 (unfortunately unrevealed) submissions; they are:
  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh

  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison

  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin

  • The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar; the translator does not wish to be identified

  • Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano, translated by Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins

  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes

  • Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

  • Mac and His Problem (published in the US as Mac's Problem) by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes

  • The Memory Police by Ogowa Yoko, translated by Stephen Snyder

  • The Other Name: Septology I-II by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls

  • Red Dog by Willem Anker, translated by Michiel Heyns

  • Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Shaun Whiteside

  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin
       Interesting to see so many titles with two translators .....
       Aside from the ones already under review, I also have the Haratischvili, Melchor, and Fosse -- all yet to come out in the US, which is why I haven't rushed to get to them yet -- and I should be getting to them; I haven't seen the others.
       The shortlist will be announced 2 April.

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

       Publishing in ... Mongolia

       At Global Voices Filip Noubel finds A renaissance is underway for Mongolia's literature lovers.
       Apparently: "over 600 books are published every year in Mongolia" -- and: "nearly two thirds of these titles are domestic works and one third are translations".
       Bayasgalan Batsuuri, co-founder of Tagtaa Publishing, reports:
For a population of three million, our national bestselling record was 95,000 copies: a book by a Mongolian author who self-published. In 2019, our company published Yu Hua's novel To live and we've already sold 12,000 copies.
       Of course, it would be great to see some Mongolian literature in English translation; the Publishers Weekly Translation Database lists all of ... one translation from the language, a volume of poetry, for the entire available period (2008 to 2020) .....

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

27 February 2020 - Thursday

Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist
Sahitya Akademi Translation Awards | Translating Olga Tokarczuk

       Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Republic of Consciousness Prize -- rewarding: "the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees" (in the UK and Ireland); not yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, their tweet.
       The only one of the shortlisted titles I've seen is Hanne Ørstavik's Love.

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

       Sahitya Akademi Translation Awards

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the 2019 Sahitya Akademi Translation Awards (for translations published 2013 to 2017) for translations into 23 (!) Indian languages (with a 24th, the Kannada prize to be announced later).
       The translation-into-English award went to Susan Daniel's translation (from the Kannada) of Devanoora Mahadeva's Kusumabale; see also the Oxford University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or
       What's really neat to see is how much translation there is between Indian languages -- translations from the Hindi and English might be the most common, but it's great to see, for example, a translation from Odia into Bengali being honored.
       (Nice also to see all the shortlisted titles listed -- scroll down --; the only one of these titles under review at the complete review is Srinath Perur's translation of Vivek Shanbhag's Ghachar Ghochar.)

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

       Translating Olga Tokarczuk

       At Frieze they have International Booker Prize-Winner Jennifer Croft on the Highs and Lows of Translating Olga Tokarczuk -- mainly about the forthcoming The Books of Jacob.

       (I finally got a (library) copy of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, so maybe there will be a review of that up soon .....)

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

26 February 2020 - Wednesday

EBRD Literature Prize longlist | Folio Prize shortlist
International Booker Prize speculation | The Ocean of Mirth review

       EBRD Literature Prize longlist

       They've announced the ten-title longlist for this year's EBRD Literature Prize -- the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's €20,000 prize "to promote translated literary fiction from its regions of operations" -- making for an ... unusual spread of eligible nations.
       I've only seen two of these -- Zuleikha and Sacred Darkness -- but haven't covered any.
       The three finalists will be announced 30 March, and the winning title on 22 April.

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

       Folio Prize shortlist

       They've announced the eight-title shortlist for this year's Rathbones Folio Prize, the £30,000 "English language book prize open to writers from around the world [...] in which all the books considered for the prize are selected and judged by an academy of peers".
       It's an interesting mix: three novels, three works of non-fiction, a poetry collection, and a short story collection.
       I haven't seen any of these .....
       The winner will be announced 23 March.

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

       International Booker Prize speculation

       The International Booker Prize will announce its longlist tomorrow, and there's been a decent amount of speculation online about what titles might make it -- notably at the extensive The Mookse and the Gripes Goodreads 2020 International Booker Prize Speculation-thread. They also collect links to various speculators:        Frustratingly, none of the Booker Prizes reveal the titles that are entered/considered -- i.e. what books are actually in the running (as not all theoretically eligible titles are in fact submitted or called in); a Goodreads list collects what is apparently International Booker Prize: Eligible Books 2020 but finds 191 titles -- but apparently only 124 titles were considered ..... (See also.)
       The International Booker Prize demands that both author and translator be alive at the time of submission/calling-in, so the list naturally skews to the (very) contemporary (unlike, for example, the American Best Translated Book Award, which allows for dead authors (and translators ...)).
       I have seen far too few of these -- many are only UK-published, for now -- to hazard a guess as to what might make the cut -- but the above links should provide you with enough possible titles .....

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

       The Ocean of Mirth review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Reading Hāsyārṇava-Prahasanaṁ of Jagadēśvara Bhaṭṭāchārya, A Political Satire for All Times by Jyotirmaya Sharma, The Ocean of Mirth, just out in a nice little edition from Routledge.

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

25 February 2020 - Tuesday

Translating Földényi | Sam Garrett profile

       Translating Földényi

       I recently got a copy of Földényi László's wonderfully-titled Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears, just out from Yale University Press in their Margellos World Republic of Letters-series (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or, but it turns out there's another Földényi just out, from Seagull Books, The Glance of the Medusa: The Physiognomy of Mysticism (which, sigh, I haven't seen; see their publicity page, or get your copy at or
       At hlo they now have a Q & A with the translator of the latter, Jozefina Komporaly: The Mythological Head of the Medusa.
       Among the good news there: another translation to look forward too, her translation of a Matéi Visniec novel, Mr K Released; see also the publicity page.

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

       Sam Garrett profile

       At Deborah Nicholls-Lee profiles the translator, in Dutch is like shouting in a storm, says literary translator Sam Garrett.
       Garrett believes:
The international appetite for Dutch literature is increasing. ‘The pool of literary translation has grown in response to demand,’ says Garrett, whose sector has roughly tripled in size since he began translating in the 1990s. ‘I have the feeling that, in the last few years, Dutch literary fiction – in some circles – is getting some of the attention that you were seeing Scandinavian detective literature getting maybe ten years back,’ he says
       With quite a bit of Dutch fiction under review at the complete review, several of the works mentioned here are covered, including:        And he's also translated Arnon Grunberg -- notably Tirza.

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

24 February 2020 - Monday

'Why read translations ?' | Oligarchy review

       'Why read translations ?'

       At they publish: 'The full text of the keynote address at the 7th edition of the Jaipur BookMark Festival delivered by Berthold Franke', Why read translations ? Or, why there is no borderless literature and why that is not bad at all.

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

       Oligarchy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Scarlett Thomas' latest novel, Oligarchy.

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

23 February 2020 - Sunday

Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists | Helon Habila Q & A

       Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists

       They've announced the thirteen finalists for this year's Nordic Council Literature Prize, the leading Scandinavian book prize.
       Each Scandinavian country and region/language can nominate two titles (poetry, prose, or drama), and several of the nominated authors have had previous books translated into English: Monika Fagerholm, Matias Faldbakken, and Steve Sem-Sandberg (whose nominated W is a Woyzeck variation ! It's forthcoming in English from Overlook; see also the Nordin Agency information page).
       The winning title will be announced 27 October.

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

       Helon Habila Q & A

       In the Daily Monitor Bamuturaki Musinguzi has a Q & A with the author about his new novel, Travelers, Helon Habila highlights plight of migrants in new novel.
       I haven't seen this one yet, but see also the W.W.Norton publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

22 February 2020 - Saturday

Translating ... Bangla literature | Roxy review

       Translating ... Bangla literature

       In the Dhaka Tribune Ekram Kabir writes about Spreading our literature across the world -- Bangla literature.
       As he notes:
We have never actively promoted the works of our authors at home and abroad. How many people outside Bangladesh have read the works of Munier Chowdhury, Shahidullah Kaiser, Sufia Kamal, Syed Haq, Akhtaruzzaman Elias, and many others ? Not many.
       And, with almost all translation into English:
Have we thought of translating our works into Hindi, Urdu, Sinhalese, French, or German, for example ? Not at all. We don't know those languages. But it would've been possible if we had Bangla Cultural Centres in those countries.
       (He's made this pitch before -- but there's certainly something to be said for it. Though I'd be happy just to see more translations into English for a start.)

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

       Roxy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Esther Gerritsen's Roxy, just about out in a new edition from World Editions.

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

21 February 2020 - Friday

Michael Hofmann Q & A | Text & Sprache longlist | Card Catalogue review

       Michael Hofmann Q & A

       At the Asymptote weblog Lindsey Semel has a Q & A with the translator, Life in Print: Michael Hofmann on Translating Peter Stamm -- about his translation of Stamm's The Sweet Indifference of the World, recently out in English.

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

       Text & Sprache longlist

       The Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e.V. ("Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries e. V.") is: "the longest-standing institution for entrepreneurial support of the arts in Germany", and they've long been handing out a literary prize -- currently called Text & Sprache ('text and language'); recent winners include The King of China-author Tilman Rammstedt (2008), Night Work-author Thomas Glavinic (2009), Sand-author Wolfgang Herrndorf (2012), Clemens J. Setz (2013), and Nino Haratischwili (2015).
       They've now announced the twelve authors nominated for this year's prize; they include Saša Stanišić and Benedict Wells.

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

       Card Catalogue review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alistair Ian Blyth's Card Catalogue, just about out from Dalkey Archive Press.

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

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