El País has now released its list of Los 50 mejores libros de 2020 -- the leading Spanish-language best of the year list.
The top title this year is Sara Mesa's Un amor, which is due to come out in English from Open Letter; for now, see the Anagrama foreign rights page.
(Two previous Mesa titles are under review at the complete review: Scar, which came out from Dalkey Archive Press, and Four by Four (Open Letter); Open Letter is also bringing out Among the Hedges (the translation of Cara de pan) in the spring.)
The list is Spanish-fiction-heavy, with translations from the English -- notably quite a few works of non-fiction -- also well-represented.
It's actually quite shocking how little translated from any other languages made the top 50: by my count all of four books, in just two other languages: Antonio Scurati's Strega-winning Mussolini-novel at 17 (Italian); and books by Annie Ernaux (25), Éric Vuillard (The War of the Poor; 27), and Vanessa Springora (28; all French).
While a lot of great stuff is being written and published in Spanish nowadays -- from all over the world -- this still suggests the local publishing/literary scene is (again ?) disappointingly provincial, barely looking outside beyond the English-language world and a few Romance-language places.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of André Gide's early work, Marshlands, due out shortly in a new translation, by Damion Searls, from New York Review Books.
With a Preface by Dubravka Ugrešić, too !
At Paper Republic Nicky Harman has a 2020 Roll Call of Published Translations from Chinese.
There were apparently only seventeen "general fiction single-author books"; only one of these is under review at the complete review -- Jin Yong's A Snake Lies Waiting -- though I do expect to get to Ge Fei's Peach Blossom Paradise as well.
One of the 'Classic Fiction' titles is also under review: Li Yu's A Couple of Soles.
But most of these I haven't seen .....
At Qantara.de 'Changiz M. Varzi selects some seminal modern works penned in Farsi', in Five Farsi novels and their impact on Iranian pop culture.
Only one of these is under review at the complete review -- Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl -- but I also read Iraj Pezeshkzad's My Uncle Napoleon ages ago, definitely also a modern classic.
(Meanwhile, among the most anticipated translations coming next year is another Pezeshkzad work, Hafez in Love, coming from Syracuse University Press in February; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
The German Literature Archive Marbach has announced the purchase of the archives of one of the grand old German publishers, Philipp Reclam jun., founded in 1828; see also the Kulturstiftung der Länder press release for additional information.
Reclam is best-known for the little yellow pocket-sized editions of classic works in their Universal-Bibliothek -- I have hundreds of these -- but also publish more conventional-sized/formatted works.
After the Second World War, there was also an East German Reclam, a split which lasted until 1992; they also had a remarkable list -- of a bit larger-sized paperbacks, including much fiction in (German) translation; I also have a heap of these (though not enough ...); the archive acquisition also includes papers from the GDR-Reclam.
At the Open Letters Review Steve Donoghue offers up his annual top tens -- including now the always popular The Worst Books of 2020: Fiction !
I've only seen one of these -- the ... uh, "monosyllabic slab of dead-eyed zombie-fiction" that is Kawakami Mieko's Breasts and Eggs, number three on his list.
(I do wish more people and publications would publish worst-of lists.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Two Anti-Novels by Subimal Misra, This Could Have Become Ramayan Chamar's Tale.
This came out from HarperCollins India last year, and Open Letter brought out a US edition this summer; it's great to see they'll also be following up with the collection of Misra's Stories/Anti-Stories, Wild Animals Prohibited next year.
At El mundo they've selected Los 30 mejores libros de literatura en español de 2020.
Previous titles by many of these authors -- Bernardo Atxaga, Andrés Barba, Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Valeria Luiselli, Sara Mesa, Leonardo Padura, and Arturo Pérez-Reverte, among others -- have been translated into English, so we can expect to see quite a few of these in English sooner or later.
At the World Literature Today blog Michelle Johnson has now collected their annual feature of the year's 75 Notable Translations.
An always interesting list -- and good to see that (with perhaps mixed success ...) they've: "tried to highlight some perhaps lesser-known translations".
As far as notable -- and perhaps lesser-known/noticed translations -- I'd also suggest:
They've announced the judges for the 2021 Booker Prize: Maya Jasanoff will chair, and the other judges are: Horatia Harrod, Natascha McElhone, Chigozie Obioma, and Rowan Williams.
The longlist will be announced in July.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Walter Kempowski's Homeland -- that's the title under which it was published in the UK in 2018; it was published earlier this year in a US edition, as Marrow and Bone.
In an interview at Lizzy's Literary Life translator Charlotte Collins explains that the UK title:
wasn't a good choice for a North American audience because of the popularity of the Homeland TV series, so the NYRB decided to go with a direct translation of the original title.
This seems ... almost reasonable, but I still wish publishers would get on the same page with this sort of thing.
When it confuses even publishing professionals -- Bookmarks didn't register that it's the same work, covering it as two separate works, here and here --, that's not ideal.
As widely noted, John le Carré has passed away; see, for example, the official statement from Jonny Geller of The Curtis Brown Group, as well as Sarah Lyall's obituary in The New York Times or Richard Lea and Sian Cain's obituary in The Guardian.
I always enjoyed his work, but I haven't read any since I started the site -- so, for over two decades -- and none is currently under review at the complete review.
Maybe I'll try to catch up with some of the more recent novels.
Son Won-pyeong's novel Almond ranked the highest in the list as literature.
The 2017 novel made its way back to the bestseller chart a few years after its publication as K-pop sensation BTS was seen reading it in reality show "In the SOOP BTS."
Almond has been translated into various languages and published in over 10 countries and was named Amazon Best Book of May 2020.
(Almond is also available in English; see the HarperVia publicity page.)
French magazine Le Point has announced its 30 books of the year -- paywalled at the official site, but see the run-down at Livres Hebdo.
Quite a few translations from the English, including the memoirs by Barack Obama and ... Woody Allen.
They've announced the winner of this year's prix du livre européen -- though not yet at the official site, last I checked -- and it is It Happened on the First of September, by Pavol Rankov.
This Slovakian title is actually already available in English, from Three String Books; see their publicity page; there is an Amazon listing for it, but it doesn't appear to be readily available there (yet ?).