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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 February 2022

11 February: 2021 Translation Prizes | Swiss national literary prizes | Prix Sade longlist
12 February: The Story of the Stone in Japan | Deutscher Buchtrailer Award | Where You Come From review
13 February: Subtitling | Dabashi on Pezeshkzad
14 February: Publishing in ... Iran | God review
15 February: Paul Theroux on V.S. Naipaul | Les bibliothèques invisibles
16 February: Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist | Chowdhury Prize in Literature | Q & As: Samrat Upadhyay - Dubravka Ugrešić | KMT: in the house of life review
17 February: Wingate Literary Prize | (More) translation credit | The branded look | Dutch sample translations
18 February: Preise der Leipziger Buchmesse | Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist |
19 February: Latin American literature in ... China | Ivan Yatskanyn profile
20 February: Translation from ... Nepali | Megan Walsh Q & A | Chilean Poet review

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20 February 2022 - Sunday

Translation from ... Nepali | Megan Walsh Q & A | Chilean Poet review

       Translation from ... Nepali

       In the Nepali Times Ashish Dhakal reports on how: "English translations of Nepali books open international avenues, but there are miles to go still", in Taking Nepali literature to the world.
       I'd certainly love to see more translated from the Nepali; as is, there are only two such titles under review at the complete review: Mountains Painted with Turmeric by Lil Bahadur Chettri and Palpasa Café. by Narayan Wagle.

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

       Megan Walsh Q & A

       The lengthy transcript of Kaiser Kuo's Sinica Q & A podcast with The Subplot-author Megan Walsh is now available at SupChina -- Examining the most popular Chinese fiction titles.

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

       Chilean Poet review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Alejandro Zambra's novel, Chilean Poet, now out in English.

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

19 February 2022 - Saturday

Latin American literature in ... China | Ivan Yatskanyn profile

       Latin American literature in ... China

       At Shine Wan Lixin has a Q & A with translator Lou Yu about: "the influence that Latin American literature [...] has exerted on China", in Argentine literature woos the heart yet sometimes taxes the mind.
       An impressive amount of Latin American literature appears to be available in Chinese -- while: "the number of contemporary Chinese works available in Spanish is quite limited".

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

       Ivan Yatskanyn profile

       An interesting profile of Ukrainian-writing Slovak author Ivan Yatskanyn by Peter Dlhopolec in The Slovak Spectator, Unnoticed Slovak writer published in Ukraine.
       Fascinating to hear:
On top of translating and writing, Yatskanyn chairs the Society of Ukrainian Writers that brings together 23 Slovak authors publishing their works in Ukrainian. “Our age average is high. We lack younger writers,” the chair admits, saying the Society will publish seven books in Ukrainian this year.
       Good to see some reporting at the European fringes, from countries and languages far too rarely seen in English translation. (But apparently it's a local problem, too.)

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

18 February 2022 - Friday

Preise der Leipziger Buchmesse
Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist |

       Preise der Leipziger Buchmesse

       Just over a week ago they announced that the 2022 Leipzig Book Fair would not take place -- but they are still awarding the Prizes of the Leipzig Book Fair, and they've now announced the finalists -- five in each of the three categories, fiction, non, and translation; see also the official brochure (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       In the fiction category, Dietmar Dath's Gentzen was also nominated for the German Book Prize last fall; it's the only one of the titles I have seen, and fascinating though the subject-matter is I didn't entirely warm to Dath's approach; see also the Matthes & Seitz Berlin foreign rights page.
       The translation category is noteworthy because none of the five finalists is a translation from the English; they include translations of works by Hamid Ismailov and Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.
       Also among the translation finalists: the German translation of Ito Hiromi's The Thorn Puller, which is coming out in English translation this fall; see the Stone Bridge Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at, or
       I suspect, however, that the translation favorite is another book, one of the most impressive into German in recent years: Stefan Moster's translation of Volter Kilpi's massive Alastalon salissa (as Im Saal von Alastalo); see also the mare publicity page. I've been sorely tempted to pick this up but have held back so far .....

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

       Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist

       The prix Jean d'Ormesson is among my favorite: it allows the jurors to pick whatever titles they want -- old or new, in whatever genre -- and they've now announced the ten-title-strong longlist for this year's prize; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       Among the books in the running: Mariama Bâ's So Long a Letter and Cheikh Hamidou Kane's Ambiguous Adventure, as well as books by Joan Didion, Nicole Krauss, Véronique Olmi. And David Niven's memoirs .....
       The winner will be announced 8 June.

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

       For those who prefer making their online book purchases via, rather than juggernaut, the complete review now has a storefront. (Yes, we earn a commission on sales via links there.)
       The various lists are fun, and might be of some interest -- I'll probably be adding more.

       (Meanwhile, if you want to support the site (financially), there are a variety of alternatives.)

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

17 February 2022 - Thursday

Wingate Literary Prize | (More) translation credit
The branded look | Dutch sample translations

       Wingate Literary Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Wingate Literary Prize, "awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader" and it is To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss; see, for example, Heloise Wood's report in The Bookseller.
       See also the Harper Perennial publicity page, or get your copy at, or

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

       (More) translation credit

       Poets & Writers is the latest to take up the subject of translators' names appearing on the covers of books, as Rachel Zarrow writes in the latest issue on Giving Translators Their Due.
       Not everyone is entirely aboard, with Johanna Lindborg, a literary agent at Bonnier Rights making the familiar argument:
On the other hand, in some instances and for some genres, advertising that the book is a translation may not be in the best interest of sales or marketing, so in those cases the translators’ names are perhaps best placed within the book. This is more often for the more commercial end of the spectrum.
       Has anyone ever put this to the test ? Do readers of thrillers browsing in bookstores really drop a book (or run out of the store screaming ?) if they realize the book has been ... translated ? Does any publisher actual have any evidence beyond the anecdotal/it-sounds-plausible ?
       I would love to see a publisher of some sure-fire bestseller -- say, the latest Jo Nesbø -- print half the 100,000-copy print run with the translator's name prominently on the cover and the other half without, and see if that in any way impacts sales.

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       The branded look

       Via I'm pointed to Alana Pockros' interesting piece considering Why Do Some Authors' Books Get a Branded Look ? at Eye on Design -- with the always-fun-to-see cover-examples.
       I like branded covers -- though of course my absolute preference is (French-style) stark and simple uniformity, which remains too rare in the US/UK area (but which at least Fitzcarraldo Editions has embraced). (The beloved Suhrkamp-series -- Bibliothek Suhrkamp, edition suhrkamp, and suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft -- also show how it's done.)

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

       Dutch sample translations

       A neat recent support scheme for literary translators in the Netherlands has yielded, as the Dutch Foundation for Literature reports, 218 sample translations available in 34 languages, as:
A total of 156 translators received commissions for the translation of a long extract (6,000 words) from a book or books they proposed and promotional materials for those titles.
       It's already shown results, too: "For 30 of the titles, rights have been sold in 17 languages".
       They also point out that:
A strikingly large number of the sample translations were by translators from Dutch into English. Whereas German has traditionally been the most important export market for Dutch-language literature, and remains so, translators into English are now sprinting ahead, drawing attention to no fewer than 44 titles by 41 authors, as compared to 30 (by 29 authors) on the German side.
       I would note, however, that the greater number of sample translations will, sigh, likely not translate into a greater number of published translations in the US/UK. Still, I hope that some publishers are listening and looking -- there's a whole bunch here which sounds promising. Maybe check out David Colmer's sample translation of F. Bordewijk's Bint (see also the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page) ?

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

16 February 2022 - Wednesday

Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist | Chowdhury Prize in Literature
Q & As: Samrat Upadhyay - Dubravka Ugrešić
KMT: in the house of life review

       Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist

       The Republic of Consciousness Prize is a prize for: "the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees" (in the UK; there's also an American version, with slightly different requirements) and they've now announced the ten titles longlisted for the 2022 prize.
       Since these are mostly small press UK titles, I haven't seen many of these; the only title under review at the complete review is Scholastique Mukasonga's Our Lady of the Nile, which came out in te US quite a while back.
       The shortlist will be announced 26 March.

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

       Chowdhury Prize in Literature

       The Chowdhury Prize in Literature is a new annual international author prize -- a: "mid-career prize for writers", paying out US$20,000 to the winner, and they've now announced the inaugural winner -- Greek author Christos Ikonomou.
        Archipelago Books has published two of his books in English.
       The selection process for the prize is somewhat like that for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature: "Each member of the jury recommended three writers for consideration for the prize. This list was then narrowed down to nine before the judges reached their unanimous decision".

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

       Q & A: Samrat Upadhyay

       At the World Literature Today blog Koushik Goswami has a Q & A about Nepal and Pan-Nepalese Identity: A Conversation with Samrat Upadhyay.
       One has to admire his ambition:
I am currently working on five novels, a trilogy and two short novels.

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

       Q & A: Dubravka Ugrešić

       At Full Stop Adam Dalva has a Q & A with Dubravka Ugrešić

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

       KMT: in the house of life review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of an epistemic novel, Ayi Kwei Armah's 2002 novel, KMT: in the house of life.

       This has long been a title I've wanted to cover, but it is almost impossible to find (as also the prices for used copies suggest); previously, I've only been able to access university library copies of it.
       I continue to be surprised by how little Armah figures in discussions of African literature, at least in the US (and outside academia); certainly his decision to remove himself from the US/UK publishing complex (speak: monoculture) has played a large role in that (as has the concomitant difficulty of obtaining his books, especially the more recent works). Still, this novel, for example, is such a good fit for many of the concerns that have become increasingly prominent in recent years -- not least in his focus on the (Latin and Greek) classics and his push for much greater recognition of classical African literature.
       Does anyone make the case for the lasting significance of pre-colonial African history as effectively in fiction as Armah does ?
       Of course, one can argue he overextends himself in these works: the jacket-copy of this one suggests:
KMT: In the House of Life, is a novel structured on an epistemic premise: that it is possible to envision Africa's multimillennial history as one coherent continental narrative, embracing all our space and time.
       That's a tall order -- and, of course, arguably questionable (I, for one, am suspicious of the idea of a 'coherent continental narrative', be it European, Asian, American (North and/or South), or African) -- but I do admire much of the effort.
       Now to find copies of The Resolutionaries and The Eloquence of the Scribes .....

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

15 February 2022 - Tuesday

Paul Theroux on V.S. Naipaul | Les bibliothèques invisibles

       Paul Theroux on V.S. Naipaul

       Paul Theroux (in)famously wrote on V.S. Naipaul in the excellent Sir Vidia's Shadow more than twenty years ago, and now finds:
More than fifty years of writing about Naipaul and reflecting on his influence ! Yet it is only in the last few years, the dust having settled, that I have seen how complex our relationship was, how important -- how crucial -- it was to my becoming a writer.
       So he reflects (at some length) on the master again, in the forthcoming issue of the London Review of Books, in Out of Sir Vidia's Shadow.

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

       Les bibliothèques invisibles

       At France Culture you can now listen to all ten episodes of William Marx's series on Les bibliothèques invisibles (yes, in French ...).
       Looks pretty interesting; Marx's The Hatred of Literature came out in English a couple of years ago -- see the Harvard University Press publicity page, or get your copy at, or -- which I've struggled to review but perhaps will eventually get to.

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

14 February 2022 - Monday

Publishing in ... Iran | God review

       Publishing in ... Iran

       France 24 has the AFP report on a Novel crisis: Iran's books shrink as US sanctions bite -- leading to the price of paper soaring.
       Among the consequences:
So publishers are not only slashing the number of titles published, but also cutting the number of pages of those they do print by shrinking the font size.
       Bad luck for authors, too, as:
As for the authors, they are paid by the number of the pages in the book, whether they are famous or not.

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

       God review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Francesca Stavrakopoulou's God: An Anatomy, now also out in a US edition.

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

13 February 2022 - Sunday

Subtitling | Dabashi on Pezeshkzad


       At c|net Jennifer Bisset looks Inside the dying art of subtitling -- as:
Without skilled subtitlers, movies such as historic Oscar winner Parasite are lost in translation. Yet the art of subtitling is on the decline, all but doomed in an entertainment industry tempted by cheaper emerging artificial intelligence technologies. Subtitlers have become a dying breed.
Outside Hollywood, one country, France, is known as the pinnacle, the capital of subtitling.

There, subtitlers receive royalties. They have minimum rates. "It's like five times our minimum rates," Uludag says.

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

       Dabashi on Pezeshkzad

       As I mentioned a month ago, Iranian author Iraj Pezeshkzad has passed away -- and now Hamid Dabashi (author of, for example, a study on The Shahnameh) writes in Al Jazeera on how The ‘Uncle Napoleon’ of Persian fiction has just passed away.
       (Meanwhile, I should be getting to Pezeshkzad's Hafez in Love soon.)

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

12 February 2022 - Saturday

The Story of the Stone in Japan | Deutscher Buchtrailer Award
Where You Come From review

       The Story of the Stone in Japan

       At Akutagawa Prize-winning author Li Kotomi writes about Epics of Aristocratic Love: “Dream of the Red Chamber” and “The Tale of Genji”.
       Surprisingly, she reports that The Story of the Stone (i.e. Dream of the Red Chamber) is not nearly as well-known in Japan as it should be -- indeed, that:
It seems that Japan prefers Western literature these days, even among those who read foreign literature, while Asia tends to be neglected.
       Anyway, it's good to see her making the case for this classic.
       (Meanwhile, I really should get around to reviewing The Tale of Genji .....)

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

       Deutscher Buchtrailer Award

       They've announced the winners of this year's German Booktrailer Awards; you can see the winning trailers here, at Börsenblatt.

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

       Where You Come From review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Saša Stanišić's 2019 German Book Priuze-winning novel, Where You Come From, recently out in English from Tin House (in the US) and Jonathan Cape (in the UK).

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

11 February 2022 - Friday

2021 Translation Prizes | Swiss national literary prizes
Prix Sade longlist

       2021 Translation Prizes

       The Society of Authors has announced the winners of the 2021 Translation Prizes -- eight of them.
       An astonishing number of the runners-up are under review at the complete review (Crisis ! Chitambo ! Cox ! A Long Way Off ! São Bernardo ! Adrift in the Middle Kingdom !), but the only winning title under review is Schlegel-Tieck Prize winner Porcelain, Durs Grünbein's poetry -- though I haven't actually seen Karen Leeder's prize-winning translation but rather reviewed the German original (and really have to update that review-page ...).

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

       Swiss national literary prizes

       They've announced the national Swiss literary awards, including the big author prize, the Grand Prix suisse de littérature, which went to Reto Hänny, and the career translation prize, the prix spécial de traduction, which went to Maurizia Balmelli, who translates from French and English into Italian; they also announced the book prizes, the prix suisses de littérature, given to seven books; see the official press release, the Swiss Literary Prize 2022 page, and the report, Reto Hänny wins top Swiss literature prize.

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

       Prix Sade longlist

       They've announced the always intriguing longlist for this year's prix Sade -- with several graphic works in the mix this year; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.

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

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