Literary Saloon

the literary
weblog at the
complete review

the weblog

about the saloon

support the site





to e-mail us:

literary weblogs:

  Books, Inq.
  Critical Mass
  Guardian Books
  The Millions
  NewPages Weblog
  Three Percent

  Rép. des livres

  Arts & Letters Daily
  The Millions
  The Rumpus
  Two Words

  See also: links page

the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review
opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 May 2021

1 May: Laligaba | Life After Gravity review
2 May: Jhumpa Lahiri profile | Blue Danube imprint | Locus Awards finalists
3 May: Kate Jennings (1948-2021) | Chasing the Dream review
4 May: EBRD Literature Prize shortlist | Film adaptations from Vietnamese literature | Maltese writing and literary translation
5 May: Spring Goncourt prizes | GG's finalists | Nocturne of Remembrance review
6 May: Neustadt International Prize for Literature jurors announced | James Tait Black Prizes shortlists | Encore Award shortlist
7 May: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel longlist | Dutch translation grants | Nives review
8 May: 1970 Nobel archive to be opened | Prix Goncourt-winner sales success
9 May: Manzoor Ahtesham (1948-2021) | Alfred-Döblin-Preis
10 May: Author biographies | The Critical Case of a Man Called K review

go to weblog

return to main archive

10 May 2021 - Monday

Author biographies | The Critical Case of a Man Called K review

       Author biographies

       While I cover a fair number of biographies at the complete review, I'm not a big fan of the form: I am, however, quite fascinated by the general fascination with biographies, especially writers' lives. (While I haven't written about it, because ... well, everyone else seems to have, the recent Blake Bailey-Philip Roth biography has turned out to be a particularly interesting example, the issues surrounding the biographer -- a real piece of work -- swamping the actual biography; the book about this whole fiasco will surely certainly be much more interesting than Bailey's own book (which I had, and continue to have, no plans to read; as with so many authors: Roth's work is of interest to me; Roth's life isn't.)
       At Honi Soit Genevieve Couvret now looks at (some) author-biographies, wondering: "Can we ever really know our favourite authors ?" in The Eulogy of The Novelist: What comes after the death of the author, addressing some of the issues surrounding this odd genre.

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

       The Critical Case of a Man Called K review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Saudi Arabian author Aziz Mohammed's The Critical Case of a Man Called K, just out in English from Hoopoe.

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

9 May 2021 - Sunday

Manzoor Ahtesham (1948-2021) | Alfred-Döblin-Preis

       Manzoor Ahtesham (1948-2021)

       Hindi-writing author Manzoor Ahtesham has passed away -- and it's nice to see that The New York Times has an obituary (by Katharine Q. Seelye); see also A tribute to Manzoor Ahtesham: A man buried in his books by Askari Zaidi in The Hindu.
       It was good to see his The Tale of the Missing Man appear in English.

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


       They've announced the winner of this year's Alfred Döblin Prize, a biennial literary prize for an unpublished work that was established by Günter Grass, and it is Deniz Utlu; see, for example, the Deutschlandfunk report.
       Given the list of previous winners, certainly a prize to pay attention to.

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

8 May 2021 - Saturday

1970 Nobel archive to be opened | Prix Goncourt-winner sales success

       1970 Nobel archive to be opened

       All Nobel Prize in Literature nominees and deliberations are kept sealed for fifty years, and only then do they open the archives and publicly reveal what went down. Usually they open the archive right at the start of the year -- 1 January, basically -- but due to Covid-concerns they delayed that this year -- until now: the Swedish Academy has announced that access to the 1970 archive will be possible starting Monday, 10 May. (Make an appointment if you want to be among the first to get a peek !)
       In 1970 the prize went to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; it'll be interesting to see who he beat out.
       Reports should start appearing Tuesday or Wednesday.

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

       Prix Goncourt-winner sales success

       Hervé Le Tellier's L'anomalie, last year's winner of the biggest French literary prize, the prix Goncourt keeps selling: Gallimard have announced they've now printed a million copies of the book -- an almost unheard of amount for a title in France: as the Livres Hebdo report notes, that's a: "barre symbolique (et rare)".
       A tirage of a million copies doesn't mean a million copies sold -- yet -- but it looks to be well on its way. It probably won't become the bestselling Goncourt-winner of all times -- with 1,600,000 copies sold Marguerite Duras' The Lover still has that locked up -- but it's easily the number two

       English-language editions are due soon -- from Other Press in the US in November and from Michael Joseph in the UK in January, 2022 -- and I'm curious what their expectations for this now are. Quite a few Le Tellier titles have been translated -- they're all under review at the complete review; see, for example, A Thousand Pearls (for a Thousand Pennies) -- and I'd be surprised if any came anywhere near 10,000 copies sold; surely expectations for this one must now be considerably higher (though not all Goncourt winners have fared well in the US/UK).

       Le Tellier is also a member of the Oulipo, and I wonder how this compares on the all-time Oulipo list. Presumably Raymond Queneau's Zazie in the Metro has been the single most successful title over the years. Some titles by Italo Calvino and Georges Perec probably have also sold well -- but it's hard to imagine any selling near a million copies; Zazie is the only one I can see having gotten anywhere close, after so many years.
       I also suspect L'anomalie's one-million-copy print run is more than that of all titles by Oulipo authors, alive and dead, in France over the same period.

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

7 May 2021 - Friday

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel longlist
Dutch translation grants | Nives review

       Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel longlist

       They've announced the eighteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
       Readers are invited to vote for the shortlist; the winner will be announced 22 July.

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

       Dutch translation grants

       The Dutch Foundation for Literature has announced its latest batch of translation grants for foreign publishers, subsidizing the translation of Dutch works into foreign languages.
       Always interesting to see what is being translated, and where it is being published; always disappointing to see how little is making it to the US/UK markets. True, some Dutch literature gets published without the benefit of translation grants, and several of these works have already been translated into English, but still ... of all these titles there is one translation set to be published in the UK (Auke Kok's Johan Cruijff-biography; see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page) and one in the US (a Radna Fabias poetry collection).

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

       Nives review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sacha Naspini's Nives, just out in English from Europa Editions.

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

6 May 2021 - Thursday

Neustadt International Prize for Literature jurors announced
James Tait Black Prizes shortlists | Encore Award shortlist

       Neustadt International Prize for Literature jurors announced

       They've announced the ten jurors for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature: Jennifer Croft, Tarfia Faizullah, Hamid Ismailov, Fowzia Karimi, Eleni Kefala, R.O.Kwon, Carlos Labbé, Carlos Pintado, Matthew Shenoda, and Olga Zilberbourg.
       Who the judges for a literary prize are obviously matters a great deal, but certainly more so here than with most other prizes. Usually prize-judges are presented with a slate of books or authors from which they then select the *best* -- but here it is the ten jurors who decide who is even in the running, as each juror gets to name one finalist, which is then the pool of authors from whom the winner is selected.
       The finalists -- the authors then in the running for the prize -- will be announced 15 June.
       This biennial prize for: "a living writer anywhere in any genre" has a very good list of winners; I look forward to seeing who this year's jurors think is worthy.

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

       James Tait Black Prizes shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's James Tait Black Prizes -- "Britain's longest-running book awards" --, four each in the fiction and biography categories; I haven't seen any of these.

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

       Encore Award shortlist

       The Royal Society of Literature has announced the shortlist for this year's Encore Award, which celebrates: "the achievement of outstanding second novels".
       The only one of the shortlisted titles under review at the complete review is Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
       The winner will be announced on 20 May.

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

5 May 2021 - Wednesday

Spring Goncourt prizes | GG's finalists | Nocturne of Remembrance review

       Spring Goncourt prizes

       The Académie Goncourt has announced their 'Goncourt du printemps'-prizes -- their spring prizes (as opposed to the big best novel prize, which is awarded in the fall); see the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) or, for example, the report in Le Figaro.
       The first-novel prize went to Que sur toi se lamente le Tigre, by Emilienne Malfatto, while Pauline Dreyfus' Paul Morand-biography won the prix Goncourt de la biographie Edmonde Charles-Roux.
       The Goncourt de la Poésie Robert Sabatier went to Jacques Roubaud for his entire œuvre; several of his poetry collections are under review at the complete review (as are several of his prose works); see, for example, The Form of a City Changes Faster, alas, than the Human Heart.

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

       GG's finalists

       The Canada Council for the Arts has, after some delay, announced the finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Awards -- seventy books in seven categories, five finalists in each in both English and French, including the two translation categories (French to English and English to French); the 2021 finalists (and then winners) will be announced in the fall.
       The only title under review at the complete review is Poetry-finalist Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, by Anne Carson.
       The winners of the 2020 prizes will be announced 1 June.

       Admirably, the Governor General's Literary Awards reveals all the books that are under consideration for the prize; you can search all of the submitted titles, by year and category, here.

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

       Nocturne of Remembrance review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nakayama Shichiri's Nocturne of Remembrance, which Vertical brought out in English a couple of years ago.

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

4 May 2021 - Tuesday

EBRD Literature Prize shortlist | Film adaptations from Vietnamese literature
Maltese writing and literary translation

       EBRD Literature Prize shortlist

       They've announced the three-title shortlist for this year's EBRD Literature Prize -- a €20,000 prize divided between the winning author and translator, for the: "best work of literary fiction translated into English, originally written in any language of the EBRD's nearly 40 countries of operations and published by a UK publisher":
  • The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, tr. Sean Gasper Bye
  • Mr K Released by Matéi Visniec, tr. Jozefina Komporaly
  • The Pear Field by Nina Ektimishvili, tr. Elizabeth Heighway
       I haven't seen any of these, but am particularly curious about the Visniec; see also the Seagull Books publicity page.

       (Updated - 5 May): See now also the official press release; the winner will be announced on 1 June.

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

       Film adaptations from Vietnamese literature

       At VN Express Mai Nhat reports that Movies adapted from Vietnamese literature suffer losses.
       The Song of Kiều doesn't seem like the most promising source-material in the first place, but recent film adaptations have apparently fared very poorly: the most recent adaptation, Kieu, lasted eighteen days in cinemas and had a box office take of less than a tenth of the production costs; Kieu @, released in February, "suffered the same fate. It was described by some as 'catastrophic'".

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

       Maltese writing and literary translation

       In the Times of Malta Clare Vassallo gets a variety of people in the field to discuss Making translated books more visible -- Maltese literature, that is.
       Among the (many) issues they have:
Foreign agents and publishers usually fail to understand why a country that insists on exporting its literature lacks such elemental things as journals and reviews. The sad thing about this is that books were reviewed regularly in all local newspapers in the past, so basically, we fell back rather than progressed.
       It would certainly be great to see more translations from the Maltese (as also from so many other 'small(er)' languages).

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

3 May 2021 - Monday

Kate Jennings (1948-2021) | Chasing the Dream review

       Kate Jennings (1948-2021)

       Australian author Kate Jennings has passed away; see, for example, the Sydney Morning Herald report, ‘I miss her’: Poet and writer Kate Jennings dies aged 72.

       The only Jennings title under review at the complete review is Moral Hazard.

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

       Chasing the Dream review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Liane de Pougy's 1898 novel Chasing the Dream, now in English for the first time, from Dedalus.

       This is one of two Pougy titles Dedalus have just brought out. She led a very colorful life, too -- a fascinating figure.

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

2 May 2021 - Sunday

Jhumpa Lahiri profile | Blue Danube imprint | Locus Awards finalists

       Jhumpa Lahiri profile

       Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts -- written in Italian, and translated by the author -- is just out -- see the publicity pages from Alfred A. Knopf and Bloomsbury, or get your copy at or -- and in The Guardian Lisa Allardice profiles her, in Jhumpa Lahiri: 'I've always existed in a kind of linguistic exile'.
       Also of interest: Lahiri explaining Where I Find Myself: On Self-translation, at Words without Borders; well worth a read.

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

       Blue Danube imprint

       The Blue Guide travel series has made forays into the literary -- a series of Literary Companions, for example -- but now have launched a more ambitious literary imprint, Blue Danube, which will: "focus on literature, history and travel in Central Europe".
       The first two titles are by Bánffy Miklós, and the mystery The Remarkable Mrs Anderson ertainly sounds like fun.
       See also Mark Chandler reporting at The Bookseller that Blue Guides launches literary imprint, and the hlo report, Blue Guides Release Two Books by Miklós Bánffy.

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

       Locus Awards finalists

       The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the finalists of this year's Locus Awards -- ten each in a whole lot of categories.
       The winners will be announced 26 June.

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

1 May 2021 - Saturday

Laligaba | Life After Gravity review


       They've announced the winners of this year's Latvian Literature Awards -- Laligaba --, the leading Latvian literary awards.
       Jānis Joņevs' Tīģeris won the fiction award; see also the Dienas Grāmata publicity page.
       Jānis Elsbergs' translations of poetry by Čārlzs Bukovskis won for best translation. Čārlzs Bukovskis ? Yes, that's Charles Bukowski.

       (Updated - 6 May): See now also the report at Latvian Literature, The Annual Latvian Literature Award 2021 Winners Announced.

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

       Life After Gravity review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Patricia Fara on Isaac Newton's London Career, in Life After Gravity, just out from Oxford University Press.

       That's the second Fara title on Newton under review -- I got to her Newton back in 2002 --; there are also quite a few other Newton-related titles under review.

       See also Tyler Cowen's recent conversation with Patricia Fara on Newton, Scientific Progress, and the Benefits of Unhistoric Acts.

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

previous entries (21 - 30 April 2021)

archive index

- search the site -

- return to top of the page -

© 2021 the complete review

the Complete Review
Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links