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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

21 - 31 December 2022

21 December: New World Literature Today | Publishing in ... Ukraine
22 December: P.C. Hooft-prijs | Comedy Women in Print Prize longlist
23 December: Sahitya Akademi Awards | Slow Horses review
24 December: P.O. Enquists pris | Burton Pike (1930-2022)
25 December: Ajami | David Boyd Q & A
26 December: Cho Se-hui (1942-2022) | Barack Obama favorites
27 December: Translation in ... the UK
28 December: 2022 translations from ... Arabic | Literary events in ... Nigeria
29 December: Korean literature abroad | Deutscher Krimipreis | Bora Chung Q & A | XX review
30 December: Michael Moore Q & A
31 December: Rilke archive | 2022 review notes

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31 December 2022 - Saturday

Rilke archive | 2022 review notes

       Rilke archive

       I missed this at the beginning of the month: the German Literature Archive Marbach announced the purchase of Rainer Maria Rilke's literary archive, which has been in private hands for nearly a century.
       The archive includes: 10,000 hand-written manuscript pages, about 8,800 letters, 470 books and newspapers from Rilke's library that he accumulated between 1897 and 1918, 131 previously unknown drawings, and some 360 photographs.

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

       2022 review notes

       I'm impressed by how many people and publications are able to put together 'best of the year'-lists (and especially impressed by those posting photographs of neat piles of their annual favorites; I still have most of the books I read and reviewed this year, but they are stored and shelved all over the place, and it would be far more work than I have the energy for to get together a pile of them).
       Looking back over the books I reviewed here at the complete review in 2022, I'm hard-pressed to put together any 'best'-list: the highest-rated review was a ringer of sorts (and a previously-read title, too), specifically selected as the 5000th title under review (Heiner Müller's Heartpiece) and, for that matter, the next-best novel reviewed in 2022 was also one I'd previously read, Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai ....

       I *only* reviewed 165 titles in 2022, nine less than even last year -- though among the excuses I have is that the reviewed books were, on average, longer than they've ever been (306 pages).
       New titles did not figure all that prominently -- though there were some notable new translations of previously translated titles that I was very pleased to get to (notably: Halldór Laxness' Salka Valka and one of the two new translations that came out of Felix Salten's Bambi).

       Many of the titles I was particularly pleased to get to were older ones, including: the novels        Also a few classics, notably The Little Clay Cart and The Major Declamations

       Among the titles I was particularly pleased to cover, not least because they deserve the attention (and have gotten too little of it) are the impressive (recent, if not brand-new) edition of the Marquis de Sade's Journey to Italy and Patrick O'Neill's Finnegans Wakes (both from the same publisher !), as well as Hermann Burger's Tractatus Logico-Suicidalis (just one of the many marvelous titles out from Wakefield Press this year).
       (I was also pleased to review another of Kurt Gödel's Philosophical Notebooks, as well as the first two volumes of Rudolf Carnap's diaries, but, yeah, I get that these are only of interest to a smaller audience.)

       I did get around to quite a few of the major translations that came out (more or less) in 2022, including many of the heftier ones -- International Booker winning The Books of Jacob (which only came out in the US this year) and Tomb of Sand (which is only coming out in the US in 2023 ...). Several didn't get nearly the attention (yet ?) they should have, from Luis Goytisolo's admittedly challenging Antagony to, more bafflingly, Antonio Scurati's M: Son of the Century (though it topped Steve Donoghue's list of the best literature in translation 2022). (Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer's Grand Hotel Europa is another larger book in translation that at least should have gotten more attention.)
       Other 2022 translations that I am pleased to have covered include Georgi Gospodinov's Time Shelter, Tsering Yangkyi's Flowers of Lhasa, and Perhat Tursun's The Backstreets.
       Finally, I'm pleased to have covered -- but remain baffled why there hasn't been more interest in -- Walter Kappacher's Palace of Flies.

       As far as English-language fiction, I seem to have done especially poorly with this year's releases -- but at least there was one little gem, another by Helen DeWitt, The English Understand Wool.

       These aren't necessarily the 'best' books I reviewed this year (though some of them certainly are), and I don't think I could put a true best-list together, but I am glad I reviewed these and many others at the site; I gained a lot by reading (and reviewing) most of the titles I covered; almost each one offers some rewards, and many offered considerable ones. Not quite 165 worthwhile titles, but a remarkably large number.

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

30 December 2022 - Friday

Michael Moore Q & A

       Michael Moore Q & A

       There's a new translation of Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed out, by Michael F. Moore, and in America James T. Keane has a Q & A on Translating ‘the greatest novel in the Italian language’: Michael Moore on restoring ‘The Betrothed’ to its rightful place in world literature.
       I haven't seen this one yet but very much hope to; meanwhile, see the Modern Library publicity page, or get your copy at, or

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

29 December 2022 - Thursday

Korean literature abroad | Deutscher Krimipreis
Bora Chung Q & A | XX review

       Korean literature abroad

       In The Korea Herald Hwang Dong-hee reports that it was a Good year for Korean literature abroad -- not just in the US/UK, as: "More than 150 works in 27 languages were published overseas with the support of the center, LTI Korea said"

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

       Deutscher Krimipreis

       They've announced the winners of this year's Deutscher Krimipreis, a leading German mystery prize.
       The German category was won by Johannes Groschupf's Die Stunde der Hyänen; see also the Suhrkamp foreign rights page.
       The foreign category was won by Onda Riku's The Aosawa Murders.

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

       Bora Chung Q & A

       At Electric Lit Jaeyon Yoo has a Q & A with Bora Chung, When Reality is More Terrifying Than Cursed Bunnies.

       I haven't seen Cursed Bunny yet, but it has gotten a lot of positive attention.

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

       XX review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rian Hughes' XX, recently out also in paperback in the US.

       I'm a bit surprised this didn't attract more attention when it came out (in 2020) -- or since, for that matter.

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

28 December 2022 - Wednesday

2022 translations from ... Arabic | Literary events in ... Nigeria

       2022 translations from ... Arabic

       ArabLit offers a useful overview of Published in 2022: Arabic Literature in Translation -- to English, as well as German, Portuguese, and Malayalam.
       I've seen far too few of these -- though I do have a couple, which I hope to get to -- and seem to have only reviewed one, Nancy Roberts's translation of The Night Will Have Its Say, by Ibrahim al-Koni.

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

       Literary events in ... Nigeria

       In Al Jazeera Pelumi Salako reports on how: 'New literary festivals are springing up in Nigeria, inspiring an evolving community of more book-loving Africans', in ‘Communion with creatives’: Literary events flourish in Nigeria.

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

27 December 2022 - Tuesday

Translation in ... the UK

       Translation in ... the UK

       In the Irish Times Fiona O'Connor finds that: 'Translation has become a disruptive innovation in the monoglot, insular world of British publishing', in Gains in translation for fiction readers and publishers.

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

26 December 2022 - Monday

Cho Se-hui (1942-2022) | Barack Obama favorites

       Cho Se-hui (1942-2022)

       South Korean author Cho Se-hui (Jo Sehui) has passed away; see, for example, the Yonhap New Agency report.

       Cho is best known for his novel The Dwarf, one of the most successful South Korean novels ever published:
In 2005, the book became the first Korean novel to publish its 200th edition. So far, it has had 320 editions published and sold over 1.48 million copies in South Korea.
       I have a copy but have not covered it yet; see also the University of Hawai'i Press publicity page, or get your copy at, or

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

       Barack Obama favorites

       Former American president Barack Obama has released his annual list of his favorite books of 2022.
       Certainly some titles of interest here -- though I haven't seen any of them .....

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

25 December 2022 - Sunday

Ajami | David Boyd Q & A


       In The Brink Molly Callahan reports on how Unearthing a Long Ignored African Writing System, One Researcher Finds African History, by Africans, about the modified Arabic script Ajami.
       See also more information at Boston University's African Ajami Library, as "BU offers the only Ajami program in the United States".

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

       David Boyd Q & A

       At the Asymptote blog Laurel Taylor has a Q & A with the translator, in Everything Is in the Atmosphere: David Boyd on Translating Hiroko Oyamada.
       I haven't seen Oyamada's story collection, but see reviews of both The Factory and The Hole.

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

24 December 2022 - Saturday

P.O. Enquists pris | Burton Pike (1930-2022)

       P.O. Enquists pris

       They've announced the winner of this year's P.O. Enquists pris -- named after Per Olov Enquist, and awarded to a young European author -- and it is Icelandic author Fríða Ísberg; see, for example, the report at Bok365.
       Faber is set to bring out her The Mark in August; see The Bookseller report, and the RCW information page.

       This prize has a solid track record of honoring up-and-coming (mainly Scandinavian) authors. previous winners include Empty Hearts-author Juli Zeh (2005), Daniel Kehlmann (2008), Karate Chop-author Dorthe Nors (2014), and A System so Magnificent it is Blinding-author Amanda Svensson (2019).

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

       Burton Pike (1930-2022)

       Sad to hear that translator Burton Pike has passed away.
       He is the co-translator (with Sophie Wilkins) of Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, among many other works, and he won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Gerhard Meier's Island of the Dead. He was also awarded the 2016 Friedrich Ulfers Prize, awarded: "to a leading publisher, writer, critic, translator, or scholar who has championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States".

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

23 December 2022 - Friday

Sahitya Akademi Awards | Slow Horses review

       Sahitya Akademi Awards

       The Indian Sahitya Akademi has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winners of its prestigious awards - for the best work in each of twenty-three (!) languages,
       Only six were novels -- including the English-language winner, Anuradha Roy's All the Lives We Never Lived. (Yes, this came out in ... 2018.)
       Helpfully, the press release also lists the other finalists in each language

       They've also announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winners of the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prizes, for the best translations into seventeen different languages.
       Only three of the winners were translations from English. Meanwhile, N. Kalyan Raman's translation of Poonachi by Perumal Murugan, from Tamil, won the English-language category.

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

       Slow Horses review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first in Mick Herron's Slough House-series, Slow Horses.

       This recently was made into a TV-miniseries as well, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas; I haven't seen any of it.

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

22 December 2022 - Thursday

P.C. Hooft-prijs | Comedy Women in Print Prize longlist

       P.C. Hooft-prijs

       They've announced the winner of this year's P.C. Hooft Prize, the leading Dutch-language author prize -- and it is Tijs Goldschmidt.
       Some of Goldschmidt's work has been translated into English -- notably, Darwin's Dreampond; see the MIT Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Comedy Women in Print Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Comedy Women in Print Prize, sixteen titles selected from "an abundance" of submissions. (Come on, just publish the list of all the books that were in the running .....)

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

21 December 2022 - Wednesday

New World Literature Today | Publishing in ... Ukraine

       New World Literature Today

       The January-February 2023 issue of World Literature Today is now available, with a focus on 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature laureate -- and The Knight and His Shadow-author -- Boubacar Boris Diop.
       As always, of particular interest: the book review section.

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

       Publishing in ... Ukraine

       In Publishers Weekly Ed Nawotka reports that Ukrainian Publishers Fight On.
According to a survey conducted by Chytomo, the online trade magazine of the Ukrainian publishing industry, 85.9% of Ukraine’s publishers were operational in late September, up from 39% in April; the remaining 14.1% were at least partially at work.

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

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