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

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 August 2021

21 August: Rosa Liksom Q & A | BücherFrauen-Literaturpreis shortlist | AI-written novel in ... Korean | The Double Mother review
22 August: Filipino translation | 'Reproductive labour in Scandinavian poetry' | Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Q & A
23 August: Amit Chaudhuri Q & A | Amélie Nothomb
24 August: Roberto Calasso tributes | Mountain Literature award shortlist | Shikasta review
25 August: Nobel Prize in Literature symposium | German Book Prize longlist
26 August: James Tait Black Prizes | Castro and the (foreign) writers | Rakes of the Old Court review
27 August: McNally Editions
28 August: Moldovan literary clubs | In Concrete review
29 August: Premio FIL de Literatura | Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist
30 August: Prix littéraires Transfuge
31 August: An American Republic of Consciousness prize | A Heart Divided review

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31 August 2021 - Tuesday

An American Republic of Consciousness prize | A Heart Divided review

       An American Republic of Consciousness prize

       The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses was founded in 2017, to reward: "the best fiction published by [UK and Irish] publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees", and now there's a North American version, the Republic of Consciousness Prize - US and Canada.
       The definition of 'small press' is different for the North American version -- not based on the number of employees, but rather:
A small press is defined as an average of 18 or fewer published titles per year and the majority of these must be new, adult literary fiction.
       Eighteen titles is quite a lot; it'll be interesting to see which presses qualify/enter.
       It's good to see that works in translation are also eligible.

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

       A Heart Divided review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jin Yong's A Heart Divided, the final volume in his Legends of the Condor Heroes-quartet, now also out in a US edition.

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

30 August 2021 - Monday

Prix littéraires Transfuge

       Prix littéraires Transfuge

       With the rentrée littéraire -- the big French book publishing season -- imminent, it's also time for the big French literary prizes to get going; the French magazine Transfuge hops on the bandwagon too, announcing their own prix littéraires -- not so major, but an interesting selection, in thirteen categories.
       The best French novel prize is shared by the new books by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (whose Brotherhood recently came out from Europa Editions; see their publicity page) and Alain Guiraudie, while a Ta-Nehisi Coates novel was named best Anglophone novel. The prize for the 'meilleur polar francophone' went to the rentrée-novel with my favorite title, Manger Bambi, by Caroline de Mulder.

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

29 August 2021 - Sunday

Premio FIL de Literatura | Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist

       Premio FIL de Literatura

       They've announced the winner of this year's FIL Award for Literature in Romance Languages, and it is Diamela Eltit. She's had a good awards-year, having also won the Premio Internacional Carlos Fuentes a la Creación Literaria this spring.
       The FIL Award is the leading Romance-language author prize, and pays out US$150,000; it has an excellent list of previous winners, beginning with Nicanor Parra (in 1991) to Lídia Jorge, who won last year.

       Several of Eltit's works have been translated into English, but it looks like it's been a while since anything new has come out. Still, it's good to see that Custody of the Eyes is being re-issued, by Sternberg Press, next year; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or

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

       Nigeria Prize for Literature shortlist

       They've announced the three-title-strong shortlist for this year's Nigeria Prize for Literature; see, for example, Prisca Sam-Duru's report in Vanguard, Three finalists emerge for 2021 NLNG Literature Prize.
       The prize rotates through four genres, and this year is the prose fiction year, so all three shortlisted titles are novels.
       The winner will be announced in October.

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

28 August 2021 - Saturday

Moldovan literary clubs | In Concrete review

       Moldovan literary clubs

       One hears far too little about Moldovan literature, but in The Calvert Journal Paula Erizanu has an interesting piece on The literary-musical clubs that sparked Moldova's national liberation movement 30 years ago.
       More historical than contemporary, but still .....

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

       In Concrete review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Oulipo-author Anne Garréta's In Concrete, out earlier this year from Deep Vellum.

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

27 August 2021 - Friday

McNally Editions

       McNally Editions

       New York bookseller McNally Jackson is going into publishing, with McNally Editions, launching in January, 2022.
       As they describe it:
McNally Editions is a series of paperbacks devoted to hidden gems. We believe that often the most enjoyable books lie off the beaten path, waiting to be rediscovered, and that rediscovery is what reading culture is all about.
       The opening line includes books by Han Suyin, David Foster Wallace, and Roy Heath; the whole venture looks very promising.

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

26 August 2021 - Thursday

James Tait Black Prizes | Castro and the (foreign) writers
Rakes of the Old Court review

       James Tait Black Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's James Tait Black Prizes -- the: "UK's oldest book awards" -- and Shola von Reinhold's Lote won in the fiction category.

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

       Castro and the (foreign) writers

       In Prospect Daniel Rey looks at The story of Cuba's difficult relationship with revolutionary writers under Castro.
       A limited overview, but of some interest.

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

       Rakes of the Old Court review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mateiu Caragiale's 1929 novel, Rakes of the Old Court, now out in English, from Northwestern University Press.

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

25 August 2021 - Wednesday

Nobel Prize in Literature symposium | German Book Prize longlist

       Nobel Prize in Literature symposium

       They're holding an international symposium at the German Literature Archive in Marbach (well, online) on Literature in the Nobel Era: Comparative, Theoretical, and archival approaches to the Nobel Prize in Literature from today through Friday.
       This sounds fascinating and well worth following, beginning with Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy -- i.e. the man in charge of their Nobel-awarding deliberations and the one who will announce this year's winner (on 7 October) --, taking part in the official welcome to a reading by Herta Müller; see the full official programme (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       A lot of really interesting-sounding presentations, including:
  • Phillipa K. Chong and Vaughn Schmutz on: '(Nobel) Winner Takes All ? The Nobel Effect on Literary Reputation and Reviews'
  • James English on: 'The Nobel and the Economics of Literary Prestige in the 21st Century '
  • Sandra Richter on: 'Is there a Nobel Effect ? Translations after the Nobel Prize'
       See the abstracts of all the talks.

       I very, very much hope that there will be a book-publication collecting these papers; I would love to see that. Hopefully they'll also post videos of the talks -- maybe at the Literaturarchiv YouTube channel ?

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

       German Book Prize longlist

       They've announced the twenty-title strong longlist for this year's German Book Prize, the leading German book prize.
       Basically a German-language copy of the Booker Prize, it's interesting to see that it has outdone the UK prize both in longlist length (okay, an arbitrary number -- but still, they opted for a bigger one) and the number of entries -- 230 (despite Booker-like restrictions on the number of titles publishers can submit). The Booker judges always yammer about how many books they have to deal with, but it's never anywhere near this many -- 158 this year, which is very much on the high end for them, too -- and given how much is theoretically eligible (ignoring, for a moment, the ridiculous publisher-entry-number restrictions), it's astonishing to me there aren't more (though admittedly more would be harder to deal with ...). Disappointingly, the German Book Prize also follows suit with another Booker Prize (mal-)practice: they don't reveal what all the books that were considered actually were.
       Quite a few of the longlisted authors have had titles published in English translation, but Christian Kracht is probably as well-known, in the US/UK, as any of these writers goes. We'll certainly see some of these get translated, however -- and the Gert Loschütz is already forthcoming from Seagull; see the Schöffling & Co. foreign rights page.
       Among the titles of greatest interest to me: the Dietmar Dath (a six-hundred page "Kalkülroman" based on the life of German logician Gerhard Gentzen), Antje Rávik Strubel's Blaue Frau, and maybe the Franzobel -- but I'm certainly open to checking out more (though uncertain how far I'll get).
       The shortlist will be announced 21 September.

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

24 August 2021 - Tuesday

Roberto Calasso tributes | Mountain Literature award shortlist | Shikasta review

       Roberto Calasso tributes

       Italian publisher Roberto Calasso died last month (see my mention), and at the Literary Hub they now have a nice collection as: 'Friends and Colleagues Remember the Late Writer and Legendary Publisher', in A Tribute to Roberto Calasso.

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

       Mountain Literature award shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, selected from forty-one entries.
       Yes, it's a prize for mountain-related literature; all six shortlisted titles are works of non-fiction.
       The winner will be announced 20 November.

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

       Shikasta review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Doris Lessing's Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta: Personal, Psychological, Historical Documents Relating to Visit by Johor (George Sherban) Emissary (Grade 9), 87th of the Period of the Last Days -- generally referred to simply as Shikasta.
       This 1979 novel is the first in her Canopus in Argos: Archives-quintet; getting to this has been one of my (too) many summer ambitions. I'm glad to have finally got started on it; more reviews to follow .....

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

23 August 2021 - Monday

Amit Chaudhuri Q & A | Amélie Nothomb

       Amit Chaudhuri Q & A

       In the New Indian Express Neha Kirpal has a Q & A with Amit Chaudhuri, about his recent book Finding the Raga, The lasting notes.
       Finding the Raga is published by New York Review Books in the US (see their publicity page) and Faber in the UK (see their publicity page); or get your copy at or

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

       Amélie Nothomb

       Amélie Nothomb famously has published a book a year since 1992 and her latest, Premier Sang, is just out; as always, it will be one of the bestselling titles of the French 'rentrée littéraire'.
       There's also been the usual publicity-push around the book; see now, for example, 10 choses que vous ne savez pas forcément sur Amélie Nothomb. Nothing really new here -- but, hey, it's a list, and those are always popular .....
       I haven't see Premier Sang yet but hope to get to it eventually; meanwhile, The Modern Novel already has a review.

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

22 August 2021 - Sunday

Filipino translation | 'Reproductive labour in Scandinavian poetry'
Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Q & A

       Filipino translation

       In the Manila Bulletin Pao Vergara looks at Filipino translation, in Found in translation.

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

       'Reproductive labour in Scandinavian poetry'

       At Eurozine they have an English translation of Elisabeth Friis's piece, originally published in Passage, on 'Reproductive labour in Scandinavian poetry', in the nicely titled ‘I see a similarity between myself and potatoes’.

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

       Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Q & A

       In The Kathmandu Post Srizu Bajracharya has a Q & A with Nepali poet Sulochana Manandhar Dhital, in ‘The only way to be a writer is to write and write’.

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

21 August 2021 - Saturday

Rosa Liksom Q & A | BücherFrauen-Literaturpreis shortlist
AI-written novel in ... Korean | The Double Mother review

       Rosa Liksom Q & A

       hlo continue their 'The State of Things'-interview series, now with Rosa Liksom: Humanity May Still Choose Another Path.
       Among her responses:
Literature has removed itself from nature, and humanity itself has lost its emotions and sensuality. Stepping into their place are bare intellect and economics. The language of economics has been infused into art, and has become art's language, as well as that of literature.

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

       BücherFrauen-Literaturpreis shortlist

       In the UK, there's the Women's Prize for Fiction, in Australia they have the Stella Prize, "celebrating Australian women's writing" (fiction and non), and now in Germany they have the BücherFrauen-Literaturpreis, a €10,000 prize being awarded for the first time this year and honoring works by women authors which 'contribute to the equality of the sexes and the strengthening of women and girls' -- and they've now announced the shortlist for this year's prize.
       Two of the five titles are translations -- both from the English.

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

       AI-written novel in ... Korean

       As reported, for example, in The Korea Times, 1st full-length Korean novel written by AI to be published next week, as:
South Korea's first full-length novel written by artificial intelligence (AI) will hit the shelves next week, its publisher said Friday.
       The novel is titled 지금부터의 세계 ("roughly translated as 'The World from Now On' in English").
       I'm not sure that this is an occasion -- or product -- to celebrate .....

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

       The Double Mother review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Michel Bussi's The Double Mother, now out in a US edition; the UK edition was published earlier this summer, as The Other Mother.

       I will never understand how and why it still happens that publishers can't agree on a title.

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

previous entries (11 - 20 August 2021)

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