I recently reached 4700 books under review at the complete review, so it's time for another overview of the past 100 reviewed titles (4601 through 4700).
- The last 100 reviews were posted over 181 days -- just a bit quicker than the previous 100 (183 days) -- and totaled 161,356 words (last 100: 143,466 words), as reviews were, on average, the longest they've ever been over a 100-review span.
The longest review was *only* 3674 words long (in the previous hundred one was 5490 words ...), but nineteen were over 2000 words long (compared to twelve in the previous hundred).
Reviewed books had a total of 24,778 pages, down quite a bit from the previous 26,810; the pages-per-day rate of 136.90 was also 10 down from the previous hundred's 146.50.
The longest reviewed book was only 651 pages long, but only two were shorter than 100 pages.
- Reviewed books were originally written in 27 different languages (including English); English again led the way by a considerable margin, with 27 titles, followed by French (15) and then Spanish (7).
One new language was added -- Syriac -- bringing the total number of languages covered to 82.
(See also the updated full breakdown of all the languages books under review were originally written in.)
- As always, I reviewed many more male-written books, with 81 of the reviewed books written by men and only 19 by women.
Still, that raised the historic sexist average of written-by-women titles under review ever so slightly, to 16.53 per cent.
- No books were rated 'A', but eleven did rate 'A-'; the lowest-rated title was a 'C+'.
- As always, fiction -- and especially novels -- dominated, with 78 titles that were novels reviewed.
In The Korea Times Park Ji-won reports on the latest instance where an Award-winning novel comes under fire for plagiarism.
As in Japan, literary prizes play a major role in the making of new authors in South Korea, giving them an outsize importance.
With the stakes so high, there have repeatedly been plagiarism scandals -- so now also with this case, where the author apparently won no less than five literary prizes in the past two years -- three of which have already announced retractions of those prizes.
The whole set-up is obviously problematic:
"The literary community is very small and conservative.
And no one really knows how assessing literary awards are conducted.
Also, systematically, it is very hard to complain about the awards because literary aspirants, in particular, are in a weak position as they are regarded as authors only after winning an award," an insider at a publication company said.
Livres Hebdo offer some of the numbers as to the bestselling titles in France in 2020, in Dicker, Musso, Le Tellier et Lignac dominent les meilleures ventes de livres en 2020.
Fiction dominated the top 50, with 37 titles, and most of the titles were originaly written in French -- 42 out of the top 50.
Guillaume Musso placed three titles in the top 50 (two in the top five), for sales of over 1,000,000, but the single bestselling title was Joël Dicker's L'énigme de la chambre 622, selling 493,919 copies; no doubt we'll eventually see this in English, but it might still be a while.
Barack Obama's memoir made the top ten -- but only in tenth place, selling 262,212 copies.
At ActuaLitté they look at the sales of last year's big-prize winners -- led by Hervé Le Tellier's prix Goncourt-winning L'Anomalie, which shifted 439,405 copies.
They usefully also provide the numbers for the 2019 prize winners -- as well as updated totals, how many copies these books have now sold through 2020.
For example, the 2019 Goncourt-winner, Tous les hommes n’habitent pas le monde de la même façon, by Jean-Paul Dubois, sold 366,310 copies in 2019 -- considerably fewer than the Le Tellier this year -- but its total sales are now up to 482,141 copies.
At ActuaLitté they also have Les 10 meilleures ventes de romans en 2020 -- the top ten bestselling novels; the numbers are slightly different from those at Livres Hebdo -- the Le Tellier is ahead of the Musso here, for example -- but the list is usefully limited to novels.
They are coming out, in one volume as well as three separate ones, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US, after being published to considerable critical acclaim in the UK over the past two years.
(There, the one-volume collection is titled: Childhood, Youth, Dependency .....)
It looks like these will be Ditlevsen's break-out works in English -- but she's not entirely unknown.
For one, these translations of Childhood and Youth were previously published together as Early Spring, way back in 1985 (yes, to rather little notice ...).
And, while Dependency is now available in English for the first time, the Times Literary Supplement saw it and her as important enough to review the Danish original when it came out in 1971.
(In the international lockstep that so much of publishing has become, the Germans (like also the Dutch) have picked up on her too, and are also publishing the trilogy -- though I remember the red edition suhrkamp volume of Sucht from way back in the early 1980s; they've retitled it as Abhängigkeit ('Dependency', too) for the new edition, however.)
They announced the finalist for the 2020 Icelandic Book Prize last month, and now at The Reykjavík Grapevine Valur Grettisson has a preview of the prizes, which will be announced in a couple of weeks, Reading Too Much Into The Icelandic Book Prize Nominees 2021.
(It does seem that these are the 2020 prizes, however.)
The finalists, in three categories (fiction, non, and children's literature), were selected from 280 submissions.
One of the fiction finalists, Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson's Snerting -- see the Forlagið publicity page -- actually came out in English translation a couple of years ago already, as One Station Away; see the Ecco publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Another finalist is by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir -- who won the 2016 Icelandic Book Prize for Hotel Silence.
It's interesting to hear that while her The Greenhouse was nominated for the Nordic Council Book Prize in 2009, it wasn't nominated for this prize that year:
Her sales in Iceland were actually quite low compared to her acclaim abroad, which perhaps explains her absence from the list, but the snub was still a scandal.
The Académie Française has announced the winner of this year's €30,000 Grand Prix de la Francophonie, and it is Lebanese author Alexandre Najjar; see also the Livres Hebdo report.
Several of his works have been translated into English; see the author page at Saqi Books.
An interesting look at the most successful books (and publishers) in the US market last year, as Liz Hartman goes about Breaking Down the Bestselling Books of 2020 at Publishers Weekly.
Despite the dominance of the so-called 'Big Five' in American publishing, independents had a good showing, at least in this area.
Greek-French author -- yes, he wrote works both in French and Greek -- Vassilis Alexakis has passed away; see, for example, Tasos Kokkinidis' report in Greek Reporter, Greek Writer and Journalist Vassilis Alexakis Dies at 77; obviously, there's also a lot coverage in the French media.
Alexakis is woefully under-translated into English, but a bit of his work is available -- his novel Foreign Words for example; see the Autumn Hill publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the winner of this year's Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it is Kay Heikkinen's translation of Velvet by Huzama Habayeb.
See also the Hoopoe publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The prize will be awarded 11 February, along with the other Society of Authors Translation Prizes.
What great, great news: "In January 2021, Dædalus became an Open Access journal".
They're still working on digitizing the back catalog, but eventually all this great material will be freely accessible.
Some of it already is -- like the new Winter 2021 issue, 'On the Novel', edited by Michael Wood.
Lots of things that look worth a closer read, including: Simon D. Goldhill arguing for Finding the Time for Ancient Novels, Robyn Creswell on Poets in Prose: Genre & History in the Arabic Novel, and Two Theories by Franco Moretti.
A good-looking issue (on a topic of obvious interest ...), but that whole archive will be something to return to again and again .....
At Publishers Weekly John Maher has the numbers -- the top twenty-five bestselling titles in the US in 2020, along with the number of copies sold (as reported by NPD BookScan).
Barack Obama's A Promised Land was the only title to shift over 2,000,000 copies, and six more titles shifted over a million each.
None of the top twenty-five are under review at the complete review.
I read the first few installments of his twelve-volume memoirs -- it was a pretty fascinating life -- many, many years ago but never saw it through; predictably, the one Mehta title under review at the complete review is his novel, Delinquent Chacha.
One of the fun traditions at the start of every year is that the Swedish Academy opens the archives regarding the deliberations about the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature from fifty years earlier; this is where we learn who had been nominated for the prize (and by whom), and who the choice came down to (as well as some of the reasons the eventual winner came out top).
This year we are due to learn about the 1970 prize, which went to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn -- but, as you will have noticed, we haven't heard anything yet .....
Usually, the archive is opened in the first days of January.
This year, however, -- presumably in no small part because of the COVID-problem (closing the Nobel Library, among much else) -- they've announced they're postponing the big reveal, until (at least) the first of February; that is, for now, the provisional date for the opening; tune back in then .....
Originally published -- in the Philippines, where it won the National Book Award -- in 2009, this is the first time it has been published outside the Philippines, in a revised edition, just out from Soho Press.
Also: I really, really have to get around to reviewing José Rizal's Noli Me Tangere.
(His El Filibusterismo has long been under review at the site, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of the Penguin Classics edition (Harold Augenbraum's new -- well, 2006 -- translation) -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)