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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 - 31 July 2023

21 July: New Asymptote | Obama's summer reading | Amazon Literary Partnership grants | Cataractual consequences
22 July: Chinese LLM for online literature
23 July: Eisner Awards
24 July: The Grain of the Voice review
25 July: Morimura Seiichi (1933-2023) | Lobster review
26 July: Miles Franklin Literary Award | Naveen Kishore Q & A | Translation from ... Hebrew
27 July: James Tait Black Prizes | Milan Kundera and Czech literature
28 July: Egyptian dialect literature | Allah's Spacious Earth review
29 July: Martin Walser (1927-2023) | Keith Waldrop (1932-2023) | Writing in Esperanto | Leonardo Padura on Cuba
30 July: Translated fiction in ... Iran | Hungarian book-wrapping | Nigerian literature
31 July: David Albahari (1948-2023) | The Country of Toó review

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31 July 2023 - Monday

David Albahari (1948-2023) | The Country of Toó review

       David Albahari (1948-2023)

       Serbian-born author and translator David Albahari has passed away; see, for example, the (Serbian) BBC report.
       Several of his works are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Country of Toó review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rodrigo Rey Rosa's The Country of Toó, just out in English from Biblioasis.

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

30 July 2023 - Sunday

Translated fiction in ... Iran | Hungarian book-wrapping | Nigerian literature

       Translated fiction in ... Iran

       At Foreign Policy Kourosh Ziabari reports on how: 'Iran's vibrant tradition of literature translation is becoming collateral damage in the Raisi regime's retrograde cultural agenda', in Reading ‘Lolita’ ? Not in Tehran.
       A good overview -- and disappointing to hear:
According to local media reports, in the three-month period ending on Sept. 22, 2022, a total of 1,431 translated books were published in Iran—a 37 percent decline compared to the summer of 2021, when 2,258 works of translation were printed over the same three-month period. In the first three months of the current Persian calendar year, 5,713 translated books have been released, while the number stood at 7,936 for the corresponding period last year, suggesting a steep decrease.
       It's always fun to follow the Tehran Times reports on recent translations into Persian, such as recently here (Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia) and here (Ferdinand von Schirach's Terror); it would be disappointing to see fewer of these in the future.

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

       Hungarian book-wrapping

       At the AP Bela Szandelszky reports on the question faced by Hungarian booksellers: To wrap, or not to wrap ? Hungarian bookstores face fines over closed packaging for LGBTQ+ books.
       The problem is that a so-called:
“child protection” law, passed in 2021, bans the “depiction or promotion” of homosexuality in content available to minors, including in television, films, advertisements and literature. It also prohibits the mention of LGBTQ+ issues in school education programs, and forbids the public depiction of “gender deviating from sex at birth.”
       Because it's a poorly drafted law:
“The practical problem is that the sellers are supposed to decide what the law applies to and what it does not,” Nyary said, adding that the Bible, too, depicts homosexuality. “In a small bookstore of four to five thousand titles, or a large one with sixty to seventy thousand titles, a bookseller does not know in much detail what the books contain.”

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

       Nigerian literature

       In The Republic Kéchi Nne Nomu writes at some length on 'The Resilience of Nigerian Writing', in Who’s Afraid of Nigerian Literature ?

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

29 July 2023 - Saturday

Martin Walser (1927-2023) | Keith Waldrop (1932-2023)
Writing in Esperanto | Leonardo Padura on Cuba

       Martin Walser (1927-2023)

       Martin Walser, a leading German novelist, has passsed away; see, for example, the Deutsche Welle report.
       Several of his works have been translated into English -- Arcade brought out A Gushing Fountain (publicity page) and A Man in Love (publicity page) -- but he never really broke through in the US/UK market.

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

       Keith Waldrop (1932-2023)

       American poet, translator, and publisher Keith Waldrop has passed away; see, for example, Peter Gale Nelson's obituary at Jacket 2.
       Together with wife Rosmarie he ran the wonderful little press Burning Deck for over 40 years.
       See also Ben Lerner's Keith Waldrop's Haunted Realism in The New Yorker, from 2013.

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

       Writing in Esperanto

       Sindya Bhanoo over-promises a bit in claiming Now's the time to read Esperanto literature -- in English translation in The Washington Post -- but it's good to see some attention devoted to this too-overlooked literature.
       The one book that is available to English-speaking readers that she mentions certainly is worth a look -- Vasily Eroshenko's The Narrow Cage --, but it would certainly be great to see more works available in English.

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

       Leonardo Padura on Cuba

       At OnCuba, they speak with leading Cuban author Leonardo Padura (Heretics, etc.) Leonardo Padura, in Padura: In Cuba “we’ve hit rock bottom”.
       Padura says:
We’ve hit rock bottom and the worst thing is that, if at other times there was still some hope that things were going to improve, I believe that what is most lacking today is not food, fuel, electricity or coffee, what is most lacking is hope

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

28 July 2023 - Friday

Egyptian dialect literature | Allah's Spacious Earth review

       Egyptian dialect literature

       At Egyptian Streets Farah Aly reports on Beyond Fuṣḥā: The Pioneers of Egypt’s Dialect Literature.
       He notes that:
The realm of dialect literature offers two distinct advantages: firstly, while colloquial poetry brings the art form closer to the masses, dialect literature immerses itself in the unique experiences of specific places or regions. Secondly, dialect literature can transcend the barriers imposed by centralized authority.

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

       Allah's Spacious Earth review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Omar Sayfo's Allah's Spacious Earth, recently out from Syracuse University Press.

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

27 July 2023 - Thursday

James Tait Black Prizes | Milan Kundera and Czech literature

       James Tait Black Prizes

       They've announced the winners of this year's James Tait Black Prizes, "the UK's longest-running literary awards", with Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver taking yet another major prize, winning in the fiction category.
       The biography prize went to Come Back in September, by Darryl Pinckney.

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

       Milan Kundera and Czech literature

       At Jacobin Ondřej Slačálek writes about The Czech Socialist Literature That Influenced Milan Kundera -- an interesting overview.

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

26 July 2023 -Wednesday

Miles Franklin Literary Award | Naveen Kishore Q & A
Translation from ... Hebrew

       Miles Franklin Literary Award

       They've announced the winner of this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, a leading Australian novel prize, and it is Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens, by Shankari Chandran; see also the Ultimo Press publicity page.

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

       Naveen Kishore Q & A

       At new books in german Yana Ellis has a Q & A with Seagull Books-publisher Naveen Kishore, in Giving ‘vocabulary’ to unheard voices.

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

       Translation from ... Hebrew

       At Haaretz Ronen Tal reports on how: '14 translators of Hebrew literature gathered this month in Israel to translate new projects together, discuss the future of their craft and talk about losing money for the love of words', in What Hebrew Literature Translators Think of Israel and Its Writers.

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

25 July 2023 - Tuesday

Morimura Seiichi (1933-2023) | Lobster review

       Morimura Seiichi (1933-2023)

       Japanese author Morimura Seiichi has passed away; see, for example, the AP report by Mari Yamaguchi.

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

       Lobster review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Guillaume Lecasble's Lobster.

       Dedalus brought this out in 2005 and are now re-issuing it -- great to see.

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

24 July 2023 - Monday

The Grain of the Voice review

       The Grain of the Voice review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roland Barthes' Interviews 1962-1980, The Grain of the Voice.

       Amusing to hear him observe (complain ?), in 1962 already, that: "The world is becoming too rich in stimuli".
       What would he think of the world sixty years on ?

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

23 July 2023 - Sunday

Eisner Awards

       Eisner Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
       I haven't seen any of these.

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

22 July 2023 - Saturday

Chinese LLM for online literature

       Chinese LLM for online literature

       Global Times reports that China launches country's first LLM for online literature, as leading online-literature company China Literature have launched 阅文妙笔 -- 'great pen for online literature' --, a: "Large Language Model (LLM) designed particularly to assist writers in the online literature industry".
       See also the China Literature press release or, for example, the report at Sina (both in Chinese) for more information.
       It'll be interesting to hear more about this. Recall that online literature is very, very big in China.

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

21 July 2023 - Friday

New Asymptote | Obama's summer reading
Amazon Literary Partnership grants | Cataractual consequences

       New Asymptote

       The July issue of Asymptote is now up, with the usual array of material as well as an 'Indonesian Literature Feature' and them having several 'Institutional Advocates Take Questions'.
       Lots of good reading for the weekend !

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

       Obama's summer reading

       The summer reading list that former American president Barack Obama releases every year always gets a lot of attention -- and he's now posted this year's list.
       I haven't seen any of these, but do hope to get to the Catton at some point.

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

       Amazon Literary Partnership grants

       The behemoth of the bookselling world does come in for a lot of criticism, but they at least spread a sliver of their wealth around -- as with their Amazon Literary Partnership, which has just announced their 2023 grants.
       A lot of worthy recipients here, for what it's worth .....

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

       Cataractual consequences

       I had cataract surgery yesterday, but since they only do one eye at a time -- next one in three weeks -- my vision is extremely unbalanced for the moment (I am off-the-scale myopic, and that still goes for the not-yet-corrected eye, which now stands in very strong contrast to the one that's now up to grade), making reading near impossible (arggggh ... there is no worse torture ...); ditto for writing (yeah, okay, we can all do without what I hammer out on a keyboard for a while ...), so it seems this will cramp my style, or at least my steady posting of reviews and news, for a while; my apologies for that.
       But at least I have a good excuse for all my typos for the time being......

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

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