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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 - 28 February 2023

21 February: John E. Woods (1942-2023) | Publishing in ... Argentina | Guyana Prize for Literature
22 February: Wyndham Lewis profile | Nizami's Iskandarnamah
23 February: Parliamentary Book Awards | LA Times Book Prize finalists
24 February: I Have Some Questions for You review
25 February: Alastair Brotchie | Carlo Rovelli Q & A
26 February: Get your own Nobel Prize in Literature (medal) ! | Bachtyar Ali profile | The Narrow Cage review
27 February: BookTok in France | The Strangers review
28 February: New issue of World Literature Today

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28 February 2023 - Tuesday

New issue of World Literature Today

       New issue of World Literature Today

       The March/April issue of World Literature Today is now available, with a focus on 'The Russophone Literature of Resistance'.
       Lots of good material -- and, as always, an extensive book review section.

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

27 February 2023 - Monday

BookTok in France | The Strangers review

       BookTok in France

       In the Christian Science Monitor Colette Davidson reports on Sobfests, pop songs: TikTok upends France’s lauded literary landscape.
       Yes, 'BookTok' is apparently big in France as well:
In France, where literary critique gets its own national radio program and publishing houses are staunchly traditional, the popular platform is slowly turning the country’s literary landscape on its head. And through their contagious passion, the mostly young, female #BookTok influencers are generating a newfound enthusiasm for reading.
       Hey, whatever works.

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

       The Strangers review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jon Bilbao's The Strangers, just out from Dalkey Archive Press

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

26 February 2023 - Sunday

Get your own Nobel Prize in Literature (medal) !
Bachtyar Ali profile | The Narrow Cage review

       Get your own Nobel Prize in Literature (medal) !

       Here's your chance to get the Nobel Prize in Literature -- or at least the official medal and the diploma that goes with it. Though the diploma does say 'Maurice Maeterlinck' ..... But you should be able to pass off the medal as yours .....
       Yes, the 1911 Nobel laureate's medal and diploma are up for auction at Sotheby's on 1 March -- Lot 107 in a good-looking Paris auction of Livres et Manuscrits du XVe siècle à nos jours.
       The estimate is €90,000-120,000 -- surely a bargain to be able to say: "I have a Nobel Prize in Literature" and flash the medal at the local bar.

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

       Bachtyar Ali profile

       Kurdish author Bachtyar Ali's The Last Pomegranate Tree is now out, from Archipelago Books, and at The National Malcolm Forbes profiles Bachtyar Ali, his new book and a lifelong quest to put Kurdish literature on the world map.
       Good to hear that:
Ali believes that Kurdish literature has come a long way in the last 30 years. “Until 1991, the number of good Kurdish books could probably fill one bookcase," he says. "Now, the Kurdish library is fairly large because many important works have been written in or translated into Kurdish.”
       (I have The Last Pomegranate Tree, and I expect to get to it.)

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

       The Narrow Cage review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vasily Eroshenko's The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales, just about out from Columbia University Press.

       These stories were written about a century ago -- in Japanese and Esperanto ! (This is the first even just partially translated-from-Esperanto work under review at the site.)
       Eroshenko's life story is also quite amazing -- a fascinating figure.

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

25 February 2023 - Saturday

Alastair Brotchie | Carlo Rovelli Q & A

       Alastair Brotchie

       Word came that Atlas Press-co-founder Alastair Brotchie passed away a couple of weeks ago, but the first obituary I've seen is only now up -- Peter Blegvad's at The Guardian.
       Several Atlas titles are under review at the complete review -- it's a great list --, as is the classic Oulipo Compendium, which he co-edited.

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

       Carlo Rovelli Q & A

       In The Guardian, this week's 'The books of my life'-column features Carlo Rovelli -- and, among his responses, is:
The book I discovered later in life

Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin. There is a delicacy of sentiments that I had not encountered before. Why were we not told at school about the richness of eastern literature ?
       Indeed !

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

24 February 2023 - Friday

I Have Some Questions for You review

       I Have Some Questions for You review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rebecca Makkai's new novel, I Have Some Questions for You.

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

23 February 2023 - Thursday

Parliamentary Book Awards | LA Times Book Prize finalists

       Parliamentary Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's British Parliamentary Book Awards.
       Categories include 'Best Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian' and 'Best Non-Fiction book by a Parliamentarian' -- though, alas, not Best Novel by a Parliamentarian.
       These awards: "were established by the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association to champion the best political writing in the UK and to “recognise the important link between the worlds of politics and publishing”".
       I'm always relieved that there isn't an equivalent US Congressional book award ....

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

       LA Times Book Prize finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.
       Two of the Fiction finalists are translations; one is Mircea Cărtărescu's Solenoid (which I will be getting to).
       The only finalist under review at the complete review is from the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction category -- Sara Gran's The Book of the Most Precious Substance.
       The winners will be announced 21 April.

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

22 February 2023 - Wednesday

Wyndham Lewis profile | Nizami's Iskandarnamah

       Wyndham Lewis profile

       At The Collector Catherine Dent profiles the One-Way Song-author, in Wyndham Lewis: Artist, Novelist, Fascist ?
       Dent finds that: "To say that Wyndham Lewis was the arch-contrarian of modernism is an understatement".

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

       Nizami's Iskandarnamah

       At the British Library's Asian and African studies blog Ursula Sims-Williams writes on Akbar and Alexander the Great -- specifically: "Emperor Akbar's personal copy of Nizami's Khamsah (Quintet) of which the fifth poem, the Iskandarnamah, is a two part account of the life of Alexander the Great". With lots of illustrations.

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

21 February 2023 - Tuesday

John E. Woods (1942-2023) | Publishing in ... Argentina
Guyana Prize for Literature

       John E. Woods (1942-2023)

       Translator-from-the-German John E. Woods has passed away; Susan Bernofsky noted it on Twitter a few days ago, and there's now a (paywalled) report by Willi Winkler at the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
       He was best-known for his extensive translations of Thomas Mann and Arno Schmidt, and he also translated works by, among others, Alfred Döblin, and Christoph Ransmayr -- and Patrick Süskind's Perfume. He also won numerous translation prizes.
       A great loss.

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

       Publishing in ... Argentina

       A widespread problem is apparently especially acute in Argentina, as Lucía Cholakian Herrera reports on Book ends ? Paper price hikes put book industry at risk at the Buenos Aires Herald.
An oligopoly, the lack of price regulation, inflation, and currency controls in Argentina make for a deadly cocktail in the book industry.

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

       Guyana Prize for Literature

       They've announced the winners of the revived Guyana Prize for Literature, awarded for the first time since 2016.
       The fiction award went to Bone Soup and Other Tales by Elly Niland (and it's not a great sign that the official government press release gives her name as 'Elle Nylon' ...).
       As you can see, I'm a bit late to this news -- but I don't feel too bad; as a local reader noted in a letter to the editor, the local newspapers apparently weren't exactly on top of this either.

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

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