Maj Sjöwal -- half of the team of Sjöwall & Wahlöö that wrote the classic ten-volume Martin Beck series that began with Roseanna -- has passed away; see, for example, the AFP report, here at The Guardian, and the Salomonsson Agency Sjöwall & Wahlöö page.
I recently reviewed Wendy Lesser's new book on going In Pursuit of a Mystery, Scandinavian Noir, and she enthuses a great deal about the series.
Plato's dialogues next ?
Safe to say I'll be skipping Leo Strauss, however .....
(His followers, too -- I had been hoping for more, but the BMCR review of this recent one was enough to put me off, concluding as it does: "This was not an easy book to review by any means but if you wish to be indoctrinated into a neo-conservative ideology this will be right up your alley. I suggest that it leaves much to be desired where careful and accurate analysis of the Memorabilia is concerned.")
They've announced the winner of this year's Aegon Irodalmi Díjat, a leading Hungarian literary prize (Krasznahorkai László's Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming won the 2017 award, for example); not yet at the official site, last I checked (they just have the shortlist) but see for example the 24.hu report.
The prize goes to Jól láthatóan lógok it, by Nádasdy Ádám -- a slim (64 page) poetry collection; see also the Magvető Kiadó publicity page.
My review of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy has always been one of the most consistently popular reviews at the site -- and the book is (by far) the most-purchased via the Amazon links at the complete review; so also in these weeks several readers have taken the plunge -- unsurprisingly: if I ever had to pare my book-holdings down to the barest essentials, it's almost impossible to imagine doing without this volume (especially in that New York Review Books paperback edition -- though I'm also pleased to have the handy three-volume near-pocket-sized Everyman's Library edition).
Now at The Paris Review's the Daily weblog Dustin Illingworth writes about it as his Quarantine Reads: The Anatomy of Melancholy -- and is indeed a great book for these times (though, really, it is a great book for all times).
They've announced the winner of this year's Thomas Mann Prize - a €25,000 German author prize with a solid list of previous winners (Claudio Magris got it last year; Mircea Cărtărescu got it in 2018; Jenny Erpenbeck in 2016; Christa Wolf in 2010) -- and it is Nora Bossong.
She is supposed to pick up the prize 12 November.
Conveniently, Bossong's 36,9° just came out in English translation, as Gramsci's Fall; see the Seagull Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Between March 1 and April 4, demand spiked in such categories as outdoor skills (with print units up 74% over last year); medical history, including books on the 1918 flu pandemic (up 71%); games and activities (up 42%); and literary fiction (up 10%).
Yay, literary fiction !
Unsurprisingly, print sales dropped in many places -- though not nearly as much as one might have expected.
When the pandemic eases, McLean said NPD expects to see two major trends: saturation and acceleration.
Publishers will release lots of content that will make it difficult for them to gain attention for their titles.
And ongoing business changes will be sped up, including the restructuring of retail -- and “not in a good way,” McLean noted.
Good to hear that, as reported at Euromaidan Press: "For the very first time, Ukraine is going to sponsor translations of Ukrainian literature to foreign languages under the Translate Ukraine Grant Program by the Ukrainian Book Institute".
There is a trickle of translation from the Ukrainian into English, but any additional support that might lead to more is certainly welcome.
In a place like Kolkata, where humidity is high, books need special care.
Otherwise, insects including booklice, termites, silverfish and others bore through books and ruin them.
Books need fresh air to avoid damp apart from regular dusting and pest or termite control plan.
And there's the concern that:
The area is rodent-infested.
There are packs of rats in College Square.
If they attack the books, we'll be left with nothing
Hopefully both the booksellers and books will survive this well (and intact) .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Novel from North Korea by Paek Nam-nyong, Friend, now out in English, from Columbia University Press.
While there's been an explosion of South Korean fiction available in English translation, there's still very little North Korean literature available -- especially fiction that is actually published there (unlike, say, something like Bandi's The Accusation) -- so it's great to get an actual popular work of fiction from there (even if it is a 1988 novel ...).
(This already came out in a French translation back in 2011 -- indeed, I already mentioned it at this Literary Saloon back then -- though they transliterate the author's name as Baek Nam-Ryong .....)
In his Afterword translator Immanuel Kim offers more background about the author and work, including that:
Paek was later promoted to the April 15 Literary Production Unit, an elite group whose primary task is to write historical novels based on the lives and accomplishments of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
They've announced the winner of this year's EBRD Literature Prize -- awarded to a work from one of the countries in which the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development operates -- and it is Yisrael Elliot Cohen's translation of Grigory Kanovich's (Grigorijus Kanovičius') Devilspel; see also the Noir Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Wendy Lesser going In Pursuit of a Mystery, in Scandinavian Noir -- a book about her extensive reading of Nordic crime fiction and then travelogue of her first visit to Scandinavia.
(Lesser is the longtime editor of The Threepenny Review.)
They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction.
Booker Prize co-winner Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo, and The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel, lead the way.
Quite a wait now until the winner is announced: that will only be on 9 September.
They've announced the five finalists for this year's prix Jean d'Ormesson -- see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
This is a relatively new prize that, as I've mentioned, I find particularly appealing because it's an anything-goes prize: the judges get to pick basically any book they want, old or new -- and so, for example, among the books left in the running are Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and a Predrag Matvejević that was first published in French in 1992.
But Gabriel Garcia Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera -- which was on the longlist -- didn't make it into the final five, so now I have some doubts .....
The Tehran Times reports on some of the numbers -- including that: Over 105,000 titles published in Iran over past year.
Among the statistics: "75,644 book titles have been authored by the Iranian writers, and 29,941 titles are translated books", and the total number of books 'circulated' (is that the same as 'sold' ?) was 148,981,126 copies -- an impressive 23 per cent more than the previous year.
They also note that the average price of a book doubled, year to year, to 350,000 rials -- but this is surely more a reflection of the sanctions-induced weakness of the currency.
Mexican author Amparo Dávila has passed away; see, for example, the El Universalreport.
New Directions brought out the collection The Houseguest not too long ago; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize -- awarded: "for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place".
The winner will be announced on 4 May.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Aleksandra Lun's The Palimpsests.
This came out at the end of last year, from David R. Godine, but I only noticed recently; it seems to have been widely overlooked -- despite its obvious appeal to those interested in exophonic writing (Lun is Polish, but wrote the novel in Spanish) -- and language and translation in general.
In hindsight, this looks like an obvious fit for, especially, the Best Translated Book Award -- a shoe-in to be longlisted (it wasn't); still, I'd be surprised if it doesn't at least make one or another translation-prize longlist this year.
Aside: Lun brings in many cultural references -- mostly famous authors but also including the Austrian police-dog TV series Kommissar Rex ('Inspector Rex').
This never made it big in the US, but I was very impressed when they tried to pitch an Americanized version, described as:
The idea is to dub the show in English, giving Rex his own voice -- less Frasier or Friends than What's Up, Tiger Lily ? meets Mr. Ed.
People in Germany see this show and think, That's a really good procedural crime drama.
We see this show as a half-hour comedy.
I'm kind of sorry this revised version wasn't picked up .....