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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2020

1 June: IBAI Q & A | International Booker Prize | Notebooks: 1970-2003 review
2 June: Publishing in ... Russia | Lammy winners | Translation recommendations | Devdas review
3 June: Literary estates | Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique | Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist
4 June: Prix Voltaire | Bruce Jay Friedman (1930-2020) | Europeana
5 June: Internationaler Literaturpreis shortlist | Forty Signs of Rain review
6 June: Svetlana Alexievich Q & A | CWA Dagger awards longlists | Miss Iceland review
7 June: Litprom-Bestenliste Weltempfänger | Translating from ... Russian
8 June: Jennie Erdal (1951-2020) | Большой книги finalists
9 June: European Book Sector | Andrew Riemer (1936-2020) | Esau and Jacob review
10 June: Prix Méditerranée | Erich Fried Preis | Norma Jeane Baker of Troy review

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10 June 2020 - Wednesday

Prix Méditerranée | Erich Fried Preis
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy review

       Prix Méditerranée

       They've announced the winners of this year's prix Méditerranée and prix Méditerranée du roman étranger; not yet at the official site, last I checked, but see for example the Livres Hebdo report.
       Rue du pardon by Mahi Binebine was awarded the prix Méditerranée -- see also the Stock publicity page --, and Borgo Vecchio by Giosuè Calaciura won the foreign novel prize; see also the Sellerio publicity page.

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

       Erich Fried Preis

       They've announced the winner of this year's Erich Fried Prize, a €15,000 author prize awarded since 1990 to a German-speaking writer; it is one of those prizes decided by a single judge -- a different one every year --, who is always a prominent author in their own right; judges have included Christa Wolf (1992), Volker Braun (1998), Elfriede Jelinek (1999), Christoph Ransmayr (2005), and Christoph Hein (2019) -- whereby Christoph Hein was also the first winner of the award, selected in 1990 by Hans Mayer.
       This year's judge was Maja Haderlap, and she selected Esther Kinsky to get the prize; the prize ceremony is scheduled for 29 November.

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

       Norma Jeane Baker of Troy review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A version of Euripides's Helen by Anne Carson, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, recently out from New Directions (in the US) and Oberon Books (in the UK).

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

9 June 2020 - Tuesday

European Book Sector | Andrew Riemer (1936-2020)
Esau and Jacob review

       European Book Sector

       The European Writers' Council has released a survey, conducted 30 March to 24 April, on The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Writers and Translators in the European Book Sector (warning ! dreaded pdf format !); see also the executive survey, which covers the main points.
       Obviously, the impact has continued through May and now beyond, much of which is not reflected here, and a comprehensive final assessment is a ways off, but it's still a good overview, with some interesting country-to-country variations. The full report is worth a read-through -- down to the explanatory notes, such as the one pointing out why loss of income for writers and translators was less severe in the Czech Republic:
Czech Republic: the losses are currently assessed as less severe, since the low income of authors usually forces them to pursue another profession or job for their main income anyway.

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

       Andrew Riemer (1936-2020)

       Longtime Sydney Morning Herald book reviewer Andrew Riemer has passed away; see, for example, Melanie Kembrey's obituary in the SMH.
       There are links to and quotes from dozens of his reviews at the complete review.

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

       Esau and Jacob review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis' 1904 novel, Esau and Jacob.

       This translation is from a while back (2000), in the Oxford University Press Library of Latin America-series, but Machado de Assis has been getting some attention recently, for his more famous novel, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas -- see, for example, Dave Eggers on Rediscovering One of the Wittiest Books Ever Written and Flora Thomson-DeVeaux Introducing Brazil's Best Classic Writer You've Never Heard Of (sigh). The reason is not one but two new translations of this book -- a book which was previously translated by no less than translator-legend Gregory Rabassa. Overkill ? Maybe .....
       The translations are:        Liveright also published The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis two years ago (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or, which got some decent attention too (unfortunately, I haven't seen this one yet) -- and maybe these new Brás Cubas-translations will now really cement his reputation as one of the great authors of his time.

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

8 June 2020 - Monday

Jennie Erdal (1951-2020) | Большой книги finalists

       Jennie Erdal (1951-2020)

       Ghosting-author Jennie Erdal has passed away; see, for example, Annalena McAfee's obituary in The Guardian.

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

       Большой книги finalists

       They've announced the thirteen finalists for this year's Russian 'Big Book' prize; see also Lisa C. Hayden's rundown at her Lizok's Bookshelf.

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

7 June 2020 - Sunday

Litprom-Bestenliste Weltempfänger | Translating from ... Russian

       Litprom-Bestenliste Weltempfänger

       They've announced the latest Litprom-Bestenliste Weltempfänger -- "the seven finest book releases of the season [...] from the Global South" in German translation --, the summer 2020 list.
       Interesting as always, it includes two titles under review at the complete review: Kim Young-ha's Diary of a Murderer and Eliot Weinberger's 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei.
       The most interesting selection, however, is Wilma Stockenström's The Expedition to the Baobab Tree -- not so much for the selection itself but because the German translation is not from the Afrikaans original but rather from J.M.Coetzee's English translation; see, for example, the Verlag Klaus Wagenbach publicity page.
       Given that Afrikaans is by pretty much any measure closer to German than English, this is an odd publishing decision -- or maybe not, since the J.M.Coetzee-connection is an obvious selling point ..... Still, gotta wonder about this .....
       (Note also that this is not a new translation: it first came out in 1987.)

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

       Translating from ... Russian

       I suppose it's good to hear that, as TASS reports:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Moscow can afford to promote the Russian language and culture across the world even despite falling oil prices.
       Not sure what kind of promotion to expect -- Twitter trolling ? -- but at least he's expressing some interest and awareness of the issue(s), which is more than one can say for many other heads-of-state.
       He even weighs in:
According to Putin, Russian classic fiction is rather complicated for translation.

"You need talent to convey the essence and to convey the elegance of the author," he said adding that "talent is a compulsory thing, otherwise everything grinds to a standstill after one or two unsuccessful experiments."
       Now we know .....

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

6 June 2020 - Saturday

Svetlana Alexievich Q & A
CWA Dagger awards longlists | Miss Iceland review

       Svetlana Alexievich Q & A

       At hlo Lajos Pálfalvi has a Q & A with Voices from Chernobyl-author and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich: Life Itself Is So Shocking, It's Difficult to Put into Words.
       Among her responses:
In literature are there any recognisable trends typical of the end of the millennium and the 2000s ?

It's my feeling that nowadays people really do trust in documentary testimony. This doesn't purely mean the documentary form, it's a mishmash of various forms.
       As longtime readers know: not me. I am deeply suspicious of 'documentary testimony' (and can't stand how prevalent it has become in contemporary journalism). I'm with Pound: "End fact. Try fiction". So too if it's going to be personal (as, sigh, so much nowadays seems to have to be ...) re-work it -- de-personalize it ! -- as fiction. If I never see/hear/read any 'testimony' again, I'd be fine with that.

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

       CWA Dagger awards longlists

       The (British) Crime Writers' Association has announced the longlists for this years CWA Dagger awards, including those for the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger -- the only category I've read or seen any titles in; the only title under review at the complete review is Kike Ferrari's Like Flies from Afar, in Adrian Nathan West's translation.
       (I also have the Leonardo Padura, and hope to see the Antti Tuomainen -- and I am kind of curious about Hannelore Cayre's The Godmother (which has won several European crime fiction prizes) and Edoardo Albinati's The Catholic School.)
       There is no set date for the shortlist announcement, but the winners are supposed to be revealed on 22 October.

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

       Miss Iceland review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's Miss Iceland, just (about) out in the US from Grove Press' Black Cat imprint, and coming in July in the UK from Pushkin Press.

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

5 June 2020 - Friday

Internationaler Literaturpreis shortlist | Forty Signs of Rain review

       Internationaler Literaturpreis shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Internationaler Literaturpreis, awarded to: "an outstanding work of contemporary international literature that has been translated into German for the first time".
       Given this year's unusual circumstances they will not be naming a winner; instead:
At a time when the importance of solidarity has become so obvious, whether interpersonal or global, it was important to the jury to not highlight just one of the titles, but to conceive of the entire shortlist as a constellation of six outstanding books and to divide the prize money among them all.
       Two of the titles were originally written in English, the four others are not yet available in English translation.
       See also Sabine Peschel's Deutsche Welle report, International Literature Award honors 6 books.

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

       Forty Signs of Rain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first in Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital-trilogy, Forty Signs of Rain.

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

4 June 2020 - Thursday

Prix Voltaire | Bruce Jay Friedman (1930-2020) | Europeana

       Prix Voltaire

       They've announced the winner of this year's International Publishers Association's CHF 10,000 Prix Voltaire, "honouring the freedom to publish" -- and it is Vietnamese publisher Nhà xuất bản Tự Do.

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

       Bruce Jay Friedman (1930-2020)

       American author Bruce Jay Friedman has passed away; see, for example, Bruce Weber's obituary in The New York Times, as well as the author page at Grove Atlantic.

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


       At Radio Prague International Tom McEnchroe writes about Patrik Ouředník's novel, in Impetuous, infantile and scientific - Patrik Ouředník's Europeana.
       It is apparently: "the best selling Czech post-1989 novel abroad" -- and it has been adapted for the stage.

       (Apparently a new Ouředník is out -- The End of the World Might Not Have Taken Place; get your copy at or --; I haven't seen it yet, but am very much looking forward to it.)

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

3 June 2020 - Wednesday

Literary estates | Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique
Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist

       Literary estates

       International Literary Properties has acquired twelve literary estates, including those of Evelyn Waugh, Georges Simenon, Eric Ambler, Margery Allingham, and Michael Innes from Peters Fraser + Dunlop in a reported "eight-figure deal" (!) -- yes, there's a lot of money in literary estates; see the reports in Publishers Weekly and The Bookseller. (No news yet at the sites of the two organizations that are involved; in fact, at PF+D the estates they unloaded are still listed as their estate-clients as I write this ....)
       As long-time readers know, I'm fascinated by literary estates and their (mis)handling (see also) -- so also now by the emphasis, as noted in the correction to the Publishers Weekly piece: "An earlier version of this story referred to ILP as a literary agency; it is an estate management firm". Often, sadly, more 'estate management' than literary representation is involved -- and too often neither authors nor, especially, readers are well-served (though the rent-seeking heirs (and their representatives) seem to do okay); I weep whenever I look at Wylie Agency estate-clients on their very impressive list and how much of their work remains inaccessible to would-be readers (though many of these other agencies are no better -- consider the PF+D list and how many of these authors seem somewhat ... neglected).
       Some of the dozen estates that have changed hands are fairly easy sells -- Simenon and Waugh, in particular, though recall how much of Simenon's work has never been translated (even as Penguin has just finished re-translating all 75 Maigrets) -- but maybe they'll see to that now .....

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

       Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique

       They've announced the winner of this year's prix Orange du Livre en Afrique, a prize for a French-language novel written by an African -- and, significantly and admirably, published by an Africa-based publisher -- and it is C'est beau la guerre by Youssouf Amine Elalamy; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Publishers of the six shortlisted titles are based in Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia -- great to see such a spread.

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

       Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist

       They've announced the three-title shortlist for this year's Desmond Elliott Prize, a £10,000 first novel prize (for UK and Irish authors); see also chair of judges Preti Taneja's piece in The Guardian, noting that: An all black Desmond Elliott shortlist shows the future is here -- and it is in good hands.
       The winner will be announced 2 July.

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

2 June 2020 - Tuesday

Publishing in ... Russia | Lammy winners
Translation recommendations | Devdas review

       Publishing in ... Russia

       In The Calvert Journal Daria Kushnir reports on Why Russian indie book publishers are fighting the conservative mainstream -- "grassroots publishers breaking marginalised and experimental literature out of personal blogs and into the mainstream"
       An interesting overview.

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

       Lammy winners

       They've announced the winners of this year's Lambda Literary Awards.
       Lots of categories -- four different for fiction alone (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) -- with the winners selected from an impressive: "more than 1,000 book submissions from over 300 publishers"

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

       Translation recommendations

       In the Mumbai Mirror Anuka Roy collects some Found in Translation book recommendations from writers Anukrti Upadhyay, Namita Gokhale, and Arunava Sinha -- mostly but not solely Indian titles.

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

       Devdas review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's oft-filmed 1917 Bengali classic, Devdas.

       In The Hindu's review Meenakshi Mukherjee notes:
He must be the only Indian writer who achieved grass root popularity in many languages of India through spontaneous and direct translation from Bangla without the mediation of English and without any official patronage. His appeal was purely indigenous. Westerners or Indian readers who knew only English never formed his constituency. It is only in the last decade that Saratchandra's novels have begun to be translated into English.
       Fascinating -- and I look forward to seeing more of his work. Penguin India seems to have a nice selection .....

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

1 June 2020 - Monday

IBAI Q & A | International Booker Prize | Notebooks: 1970-2003 review

       IBAI Q & A

       At Kanishka Gupta has a Q & A: "with two of the founders of the Independent Bookshops Association of India, Leonard Fernandes and Raman Shresta", in Six indie bookstores have founded an association of bookshops. What do they hope to achieve ?

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

       International Booker Prize

       At Cherwell Sam Millward is (sort of) In Conversation with Ted Hodgkinson, the chair of the International Booker Prize.
       They've announced the shortlist for this but delayed the announcement of the winner until later in the summer.

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

       Notebooks: 1970-2003 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Murray Bail's Notebooks: 1970-2003.

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

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