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

The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 January 2022

11 January: Reading in ... the US | T.S.Eliot Prize | Neal Stephenson Q & A | Islandia review
12 January: Booker Prize judges | NEA fellowships
13 January: Banipal Prize | Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist | 'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books' | Canada Reads longlist | Longing and Other Stories review
14 January: Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022) | The Millions' 'Most Anticipated' | Hungarian books in translation in 2021
15 January: Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A
16 January: Prix Mémorable | Philosophical Notebooks II review
17 January: India literature and publishing study | UK debut novelists | Rider on the Rain review
18 January: Malayalam literature | Nnedi Okorafor Q & A | Arno Schmidt at 108
19 January: Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists | 'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation' | Korean fiction abroad | Bambi
20 January: Edgar® Awards finalists | WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist | Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

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20 January 2022 - Thursday

Edgar® Awards finalists | WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist
Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Edgar® Awards finalists

       The Mystery Writers of America have announced the finalists for this year's Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
       The winners will be announced 28 April.

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

       WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist

       The WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis is a literary prize for short texts (between eight and twenty-five pages), fiction or non, that engage with socio-political themes, paying out €35,000 -- making it one of the richest literary prizes going, as reckoned per word -- and they've now announced this year's five finalists.
       You can read all five of the texts, too -- links on the page -- though, yes, they are in German .....

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

       Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Oulipo-author Michelle Grangaud has passed away; see, for example, the obituary by Frédéric Forte at Le Monde (paywalled, after a point, but at least a part of it is freely accessible).
       See also the P.O.L page of her works they published.

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

19 January 2022 - Wednesday

Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists
'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation' | Korean fiction abroad | Bambi

       Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards, one of the leading Iranian literary prizes.
       The winners of these prizes will collect between one billion and one and a half billion rials. Yes, that's only US$3,650-5,500, but it does sound impressive, doesn't it ?
       As the Tehran Times reports;
Five books, including “Without Father’s Name”, are competing in the novel category.


Other nominees include “Killing Angel” by Alireza Hassanzadeh, “The Prophet Who Made No Miracle” by Mohammad-Ali Rokni, “A Mute Sonnet” by Mitra Moeini, and “Sad Moon, Red Moon” by Reza Julai.
       See also the Jamkaran publicity page for Seyyed Meisam Musavian's Without Father’s Name.
       The winners will be announced in two weeks.

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

       'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation'

       In Columbia Paul Hond writes at some length on The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation (published in print as: The Impossible Art ?) -- featuring also comments by many Columbia University-affiliated translators.

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

       Korean fiction abroad

       The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has apparently collected data: "on the sales of 492 sorts of South Korean literary translations" for the five-year-period 2016 to 2020, and at Yonhap News Agency they report that 'Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,' most-sold S. Korean literary book overseas.
       Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (which I haven't seen) has been:
translated into 10 different languages and sold more than 300,000 copies during the 2016-20 period. The book's Japanese translation, in particular, sold more than 200,000 copies since its release in 2018.
       The second-bestselling title was Han Kang's The Vegetarian "which sold more than 160,000 copies in 13 foreign languages".
       I hope the full run-down, with all the sales-figures, is published at some point.

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


       A new translation Felix Salten's Bambi -- the basis for the Disney movie -- is getting a lot of attention, with Joanne O'Sullivan reporting at length at Publishers Weekly that New Bambi Translation Reveals the Dark Origins of the Disney Story and Kathryn Schulz writing about how “Bambi” Is Even Bleaker Than You Thought in The New Yorker.
       Fascinating also to learn that:
The English-language version, as translated in 1928 by the soon to be Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers, was enormously popular, earning rave reviews and selling six hundred and fifty thousand copies in the dozen-plus years before the film came out.
       The new translation, by Jack Zipes, is The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest; see also the Princeton University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or; it's due out at the end of next month.

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

18 January 2022 - Tuesday

Malayalam literature | Nnedi Okorafor Q & A | Arno Schmidt at 108

       Malayalam literature

       In Vogue (India) Sana Goyal reports that It's high time Malayalam literature claimed a spot on our bookshelves.
       Jayasree Kalathil observes:
The Crossword Book Award for Indian-language translation went to Malayalam literature nine out of 20 times between 1999 and 2019. But that was a prize for translation. What the JCB Prize has done is to make translated literature, and through it the amazing and varied regional literatures of India, an integral part of Indian literature in English
       It would be great if more of the translated titles were more readily accessible in the US/UK .....

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

       Nnedi Okorafor Q & A

       In Chicago Nneka McGuire has a Q & A with the author, in Nnedi Okorafor's Books Focus on Future Tense.

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

       Arno Schmidt at 108

       Just a reminder that today is Arno Schmidt's birthday; he was born on 18 January 1914.
       For more about him, you can always check out my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at or

       Bonus: it's also the anniversary of local favorite Edward Bulwer-Lytton -- whose My Novel Schmidt translated ..... See also, for example, Leslie Mitchell's biography.

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

17 January 2022 - Monday

India literature and publishing study | UK debut novelists
Rider on the Rain review

       India literature and publishing study

       The British Council commissioned a research study from the Art X Company on 'India Literature and Publishing Sector Research', aimed:
at understanding the challenges faced by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry bodies when making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.
       The full study can now be found here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the English version -- and here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the full version, in all the different languages.
       Among the observations: regarding Indian literature in English translation abroad:
There is a lack of awareness of what is available in translation from India, due to lack of proactive research. There is also a lack of knowledge with regard to the variety of languages and their literary outputs in India. Only niche publishers make a concerted effort to look beyond established perceptions.
The most crucial recommendation that was widely suggested across the board by our respondents was the need for a curated database of Indian literature available in English translation, and a showcase of such a database that could be accessed by agents, publishers and others interested in buying rights for the UK market.
       Some good suggestions here -- but I'm not sure how realizable they are.

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

       UK debut novelists

       In The Observer they go about Introducing our 10 best debut novelists of 2022, which includes brief Q & As with each of the authors.
       Some fun titbits along the way -- such as the author who says that W G.Sebald was: "very dry and droll, very likable but sort of Eeyore-ish".

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

       Rider on the Rain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sébastien Japrisot's Rider on the Rain, recently re-issued by Gallic Books.

       Japrisot wrote the screenplay to the 1970 René Clément film -- starring Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland ! -- and this 1992 novel is ... well, a novel-version of that.

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

16 January 2022 - Sunday

Prix Mémorable | Philosophical Notebooks II review

       Prix Mémorable

       The prix Mémorable is a French prize for a new edition of a forgotten French author or for a work by a deceased foreign author who has never previously been published in French -- and/or a few similar variations; basically an older, overlooked work that is now available in French; previous winners range from John Wain's 1962 novel Strike the Father Dead (2019) to Emmanuel Bove's My Friends (2016).
       They've now announced the winner of the 2021 prize, and it is the French translation of Luisa Carnés' Tea Rooms; see, for example, the ActuaLitté report -- and see also the New Spanish Books information page about the novel.

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

       Philosophical Notebooks II review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kurt Gödel's Philosophische Notizbücher - Band 2: Zeiteinteilung (Maximen) I und II / Philosophical Notebooks - Volume 2: Time Management (Maxims) I and II, the second in the landmark De Gruyter series of his notebooks.

       This and the previous volume, while probably among the titles that will get the fewest readers of any of those under review at the complete review, are certainly among the ones I was most pleased to receive last, year, and to be able to now cover -- fascinating material.

       The rest of the work is very different, but I do also particularly like the final page of the notebooks here -- an almost poetic Ausklang to the otherwise so methodical work:

Gödel - Notizbücher II

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

15 January 2022 - Saturday

Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       At Tablet David Samuels has an extensive Q & A with Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Nomad.

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

14 January 2022 - Friday

Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022) | The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'
Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022)

       Iranian author Iraj Pezeshkzad has passed away; see, for example, the Iran Front Page report.
       Pezeshkzad's My Uncle Napoleon is one of the classics -- and certainly the comic classic -- of modern Iranian literature; see also the Modern Library publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Last year Syracuse University Press also came out with a translation of his Hafez in Love -- see their publicity page --; I haven't seen this one yet, but I hope to.

       (Updated - 20 January): See now also Emily Langer's obituary in The Washington Post, Iraj Pezeshkzad, celebrated Iranian satirist and author of ‘My Uncle Napoleon,’ dies.

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

       The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'

       The Millions has now published their Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2022 Book Preview -- "nearly 200 books".
       Lots of good books here -- but quite a few of the titles I am looking forward to aren't found here -- beginning with The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (I just got my copy ...); see also the publicity pages from Riverhead Books and Fitzcarraldo Editions, or get your copy at or
       Just off the top of my head, among my other most-anticipated that didn't make this list are:        (And there are a lot, lot more.)

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

       Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       hlo now complete their overview of Hungarian works published in English translation with those from the second half of 2021, in Hungarian Books in Translation: 2021/2.
       The only one of these I have/seen is the Bodor, which I am looking forward to getting to.

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

13 January 2022 - Thursday

Banipal Prize | Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist
'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books' | Canada Reads longlist
Longing and Other Stories review

       Banipal Prize

       They've announced the winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it is Sarah Enany for her translation of The Girl with Braided Hair, by Rasha Adly; see also the Hoopoe publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist

       They've announced the eight titles in the running for the Abolhassan Najafi Award, an Iranian prize for the best translation into Persian; see the Tehran Times report.
       An interesting variety of titles -- from Chester Himes' A Rage in Harlem to Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

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

       'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books'

       In The Washington Post Michael Dirda considers You're done with it all. You head for the hills. What books do you bring ? coming up with a list of sixty-six of his favorite books -- though he limits himself here: "to 20th-century prose by English-language authors, one book apiece".
       A very varied list, certainly of some interest.
       Only three of the titles are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Canada Reads longlist

       They've announced this year's Canada Reads longlist.
       Five panelists will choose five of these books to champion; these will be revealed on 26 January.

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

       Longing and Other Stories review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Longing and Other Stories, a collection of three early stories just out in English, from Columbia University Press.

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

12 January 2022 - Wednesday

Booker Prize judges | NEA fellowships

       Booker Prize judges

       They've announced who will be judging the 2022 Booker Prize for Fiction, with Neil MacGregor chairing the panel that includes Shahidha Bari, Helen Castor, Light-author M.John Harrison, and Broken Glass-author Alain Mabanckou.
       Great to see Mabanckou and Harrison as judges !
       [Updated: in an earlier version of this post I had mistakenly said Mabanckou was a member of the Académie française; he's not -- though he is a Francophone author, and was awarded their Grand Prix de Littérature in 2012.]
       Submissions are now also open for the prize -- now if they would only reveal what those submissions are, once they get them .....

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

       NEA fellowships

       The (American) National Endowment for the Arts has announced "the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2022, with 1,498 awards totaling nearly $33.2 million.", including 35 Creative Writing Fellowships and fellowships to 24 translators.
       Lots of interesting projects here to look forward to.

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

11 January 2022 - Tuesday

Reading in ... the US | T.S.Eliot Prize
Neal Stephenson Q & A | Islandia review

       Reading in ... the US

       Jeffrey M. Jones reports on the latest Gallup results, finding that Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past.
       The decline is pretty bad, the average number of books read down to 12.6, from 15.6 in 2016. The number of Americans who don't read at all has remained roughly the same -- 17% in the most recent survey -- but those who do are reading less, with the biggest decline in those answering that they read 11 or more books in the past year.
The decline is greater among subgroups that tended to be more avid readers, particularly college graduates but also women and older Americans. College graduates read an average of about six fewer books in 2021 than they did between 2002 and 2016, 14.6 versus 21.1.
       The sad conclusion is that: "Reading appears to be in decline as a favorite way for Americans to spend their free time", as:
The new data on book reading reinforce that the popularity of reading is waning, with Americans reading an average of three fewer books last year than they did five years ago and had typically read for the past three decades.
       Sigh, sigh, sigh.

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

       T.S.Eliot Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's T.S.Eliot Prize, and it is C+nto, by Joelle Taylor; see, for example, Alison Flood's report in The Guardian.
       See also the Saqi publicity page for C+nto.

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

       Neal Stephenson Q & A

       In The New York Times Magazine David Marchese has a Q & A with the Termination Shock-author, in Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us.

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

       Islandia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Austin Tappan Wright's classic novel, Islandia, first published posthumously in 1942.

       This was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, back in the day -- while Kirkus Reviews said it was: "Definitely a stunt book, a literary and imaginative tour de force. Watch it".

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

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