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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 2023

11 February: Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist | Literary translation and AI | Literature in ... Qatar
12 February: Tomb of Sand success
13 February: Naveen Kishore on publishing | Black Empire review
14 February: Clarice Lispector Q & A | Reading in ... Iraq | The Pachinko Parlor review
15 February: Longlists: Prix Jean Monnet - Walter Scott Prize | Love at Six Thousand Degrees review
16 February: PEN America Literary Awards finalists | Chinese National Museum of Classic Books
17 February: Swiss Literature Awards | (Not) writing in ... Zimbabwe
18 February: Subimal Misra (1943-2023)
19 February: Abolhassan Najafi Award | Murong Xuecun Q & A | Roald Dahl
20 February: Collected Works review

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20 February 2023 - Monday

Collected Works review

       Collected Works review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lydia Sandgren's Augustpriset-winning Collected Works, recently out in English from Astra House in the US and Pushkin Press in the UK.

       I'm a bit surprised this hasn't gotten at least a bit more review attention (yet).

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

19 February 2023 - Sunday

Abolhassan Najafi Award | Murong Xuecun Q & A | Roald Dahl

       Abolhassan Najafi Award

       They've announced the winner of this year's Abolhassan Najafi Award, a leading Iranian prize for a work in translation, and it is the Persian translation of Elias Khoury's Gate of the Sun by Narges Qandilzadeh; see, for example, the rreport in the Tehran Times.
       An impressive(-sounding) check for the winner, too -- a billion ! But, yes, only a billion rials -- "over $2,100 based on Iran’s free-market exchange rate: $1 = 470,000 rials" .....

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

       Murong Xuecun Q & A

       Via I'm pointed to From prizewinning author to censored chronicler of COVID in Wuhan -- Q&A with Murong Xuecun in exile by Jeremy Goldkorn at The China Project.
       The only one Murong Xuecun's titles under review at the complete review is Leave Me Alone.

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

       Roald Dahl

       An egregious example of what is far too common -- literary estates messing with the actual work of authors -- is getting lots of attention, as the Roald Dahl estate and his publisher are messing up his work by 'sanitizing' it, after a (very misguided) fashion; see, for example, Hayden Vernon on how Roald Dahl books rewritten to remove language deemed offensive in The Guardian.
       Unfortunately, those who own the copyright can do this, as no one has standing to uphold the author's (much less the reader's) rights and interests (while the heirs are clearly only interested in the bottom line).
       Note also that the estate -- The Roald Dahl Story Company -- was purchased by Netflix not much more than a year ago. And they've messed things up so badly already .....
       As problematic as Dahl (and his work) are, this is not the way to go about things.

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

18 February 2023 - Saturday

Subimal Misra (1943-2023)

       Subimal Misra (1943-2023)

       Sad to hear that Bengali author Subimal Misra has passed away; see, for example, the report in the Daily Star.
       Open Letter have brought out two of his books, This Could Have Become Ramayan Chamar's Tale and Wild Animals Prohibited; his The Golden Gandhi Statue From America is also available in translation; see also the Harper Collins India publicity page.

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

17 February 2023 - Friday

Swiss Literature Awards | (Not) writing in ... Zimbabwe

       Swiss Literature Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Swiss Literature Awards, with seven prizes awarded for individual works and the Swiss Grand Prix Literature going to Leta Semadeni, who writes in both German and Rhaeto-Romance.
       Semadeni has previously (in 2016) won one of the individual prizes for her novel, Tamangur; see, for example, the New Books in German information page.

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

       (Not) writing in ... Zimbabwe

       In New Zimbabwe James Muonwa reports that Minister berates ‘useless’ professors failing to write books; says US$ millions for literature development idle.
       That would be Higher Education Minister Amon Murwira, who: "laid into university professors for failing to write relevant books and literature in order to realign curricula to proffer solutions to national challenges".
       Yes, apparently there's easy money to be had -- "Murwira revealed an undisclosed amount of money running into millions of US dollars was lying idle at his office" -- and, so his claim, no one wants it:
“For the past three years l have had money for literature development by academics and l wrote to Vice Chancellors to say anybody who has a book, please we have money… nobody took it, nobody. I have evidence,” said Murwira.
       Yeah, I'm sure that's an accurate summing-up of the situation .....
       Meanwhile, maybe there's a clue as to some of the underlying problems in the fact that: "students were also disinterested in penning literature and the only funds they applied for, were for international travel", no ?

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

16 February 2023 - Thursday

PEN America Literary Awards finalists
Chinese National Museum of Classic Books

       PEN America Literary Awards finalists

       PEN America has announced the finalists for its eleven Literary Awards.
       Categories include prizes for poetry in translation and for fiction in translation, but the only title under review at the complete review at this time is from the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay category, Jhumpa Lahiri's Translating Myself and Others.
       The winners will be announced on 2 March.

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

       Chinese National Museum of Classic Books

       There's a National Museum of Classic Books in China, and at they now report on how Nation's greatest ancient literary artifacts, manuscripts go on display there.
       We learn that:
According to Xiong Yuanming, director of the National Library of China, the exhibitions cover an area of 0.3 hectares and showcase 382 items including oracle bones, Juyan slips, Dunhuang manuscripts and files from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

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

15 February 2023 - Wednesday

Longlists: Prix Jean Monnet - Walter Scott Prize
Love at Six Thousand Degrees review

       Longlist: Prix Jean Monnet

       They've announced the longlist for this year's prix Jean Monnet de littérature européenne -- nine titles by authors including Amélie Nothomb, Jonathan Coe, Philippe Claudel, Colm Tóibín, Bernhard Schlink, Alessandro Piperno, and Rachel Cusk.
       The winner will be announced on 18 November.

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

       Longlist: Walter Scott Prize

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
       Twelve titles are in the running; I haven't seen any of them.

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

       Love at Six Thousand Degrees review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kashimada Maki's Love at Six Thousand Degrees, just about out from Europa Editions.

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

14 February 2023 - Tuesday

Clarice Lispector Q & A | Reading in ... Iraq
The Pachinko Parlor review

       Clarice Lispector Q & A

       In The New Yorker Benjamin Moser presents: "The longest and most wide-ranging interview that the great Brazilian author gave, here translated and published for the first time", in A Lost Interview with Clarice Lispector.
       Among her responses:
COLASANTI: Speaking of translation, that’s another one of those parallel activities of yours. You translate, quite a lot.

LISPECTOR: I discovered a way to make it less annoying. What I do is I never read the book before I translate it. I go along sentence by sentence, because that way you’re carried along by curiosity to know what happens next, and time passes. Whereas if you’ve already read it it’s a chore. It scares me when I see it that way, three hundred pages to go.

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

       Reading in ... Iraq

       At Birgit Svensson looks at 'Iraq's art and literature scene', finding a Culture boom in Baghdad.
       Sounds promising.

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

       The Pachinko Parlor review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Elisa Shua Dusapin's The Pachinko Parlor -- longlisted for National Book Critics Circle's Barrios Book in Translation Prize, and out from Open Letter in the US and Daunt Books in the UK.

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

13 February 2023 - Monday

Naveen Kishore on publishing | Black Empire review

       Naveen Kishore on publishing

       Seagull Books publisher Naveen Kishore was awarded the Cesare De Michelis Prize last year, and at they now print his acceptance speech.
       Among his observations:
We publish what we want to publish. What we want to publish is what we find meaningful. Often this appears to be out of sync with trends around us. Our choices are to do mostly with freedom, on one hand, and the human condition on the other.
       It's certainly a great list.

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

       Black Empire review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of George S. Schuyler's Black Empire, serialized in the late 1930s and now recently out in a Penguin Classics edition.

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

12 February 2023 - Sunday

Tomb of Sand success

       Tomb of Sand success

       With Geetanjali Shree's International Booker Prize-winning Tomb of Sand now also out in the US it's getting even more attention -- so also now Alexandra Alter finding An Elegy to a Pluralistic, Polyglot India Wins Readers and Critics in the West [paywalled] in The New York Times.
       Alter notes:
Tomb of Sand remains a rare exception. Translations into English make up a small fraction of the books published in the United States; translations from South Asian languages are a minuscule portion of the total. Of more than 3,000 translations of fiction and poetry released in the United States in the last five years, just 20 were from Indian languages, compared to more than 100 from China and around 200 from Japan, according to a database of English-language translations on Publishers Weekly’s website.
       Of course:
It’s not that the translation of Indian literature into English isn’t happening. It’s just largely happening within India. Rockwell has been translating from Hindi and Urdu for 30 years, and has published 10 translations, including works by acclaimed writers like Krishna Sobti and Upendranath Ashk, but she never had a translation released outside of India before Tomb of Sand.

“There’s a massive world of literature that’s not being seen at all outside the subcontinent,” she said.
       Indeed there is.

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

11 February 2023 - Saturday

Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist | Literary translation and AI
Literature in ... Qatar

       Prix Jean d'Ormesson longlist

       The prix Jean d'Ormesson is one of my favorite literary prizes: judges get to choose what books will be in the running for the prize, and they can choose whatever book they want, old or new.
       They've now announced the longlist for this year's prize -- see the Livres Hebdo report -- with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man one of the ten titles in the running. Other titles first published in French many years ago include Vivant Denon's Point de lendemain -- first published in 1777 ! --, Jacques de Lacretelle's Silbermann (1922), and Béatrix Beck's L'épouvante l'émerveillement (1977).
       With books by Bibhouti Bhoushan Banerji, Béatrix Beck, and Bertrand Blier, the 'B's also really seem to have it .....
       The winner will be announced 6 June.

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

       Literary translation and AI

       I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more stories like this soon: in The Korea Herald Hwang Dong-hee reports that LTI Korea to set new rules for translation award after AI translation sparks controversy.
       The winner of the 'Rookie of the Year Award':
is said to have used Papago’s image translation function to read the entire webtoon in advance for a “preliminary translation,” then editing the translation further by checking technical terms and awkward expressions.
       As to the winner's fluency in the language she translated into:
Regarding her Korean ability, she said she is overall “not at the beginner level of not being able to understand Korean at all,” and that she had already learned Korean for about a year, 10 years go. However, she added she is “not good enough” in her speaking and listening skills.
       Google Translate and the like is surely already widely being used by literary translators -- if only for a first or rough draft/starting point .....

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

       Literature in ... Qatar

       At Euronews they report on Inspire, explore and educate: A look at the world of Qatari literature.

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

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