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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 August 2023

21 August: Karin Tidbeck Q & A | Rentrée littéraire 2023
22 August: Scottish literature
23 August: Deutscher Buchpreis longlist | PEN Translates grants
24 August: C.H.Beck takes over Unionsverlag | Sophist-lives reviews
25 August: Ackerley Prize shortlist | Keith Ridgway Q & A
26 August: Hsu-Tang Library | Cynthia Ozick archive | The Wizard of the Kremlin review
27 August: Coming this fall | Bret Easton Ellis Q & A
28 August: US fall indie books | Biographical and Autobiographical Writings review
29 August: New World Literature Today | North Korean science fiction | The Forest Brims Over review
30 August: Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A | Międzynarodowa Nagroda Literacka im. Zbigniewa Herberta
31 August: Nails and Eyes reviews

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31 August 2023 - Thursday

Nails and Eyes reviews

       Nails and Eyes reviews

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Fujino Kaori's Nails and Eyes, out in English from Pushkin Press.

       This is a volume in their second batch of the Japanese Novella series. (Five of the titles from the first series of six are under review at the complete review.) I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of these.

       The title-story won the 2013 Akutagawa Prize -- making this the seventeenth Akutagawa Prize-winning title under review at the complete review -- the most of any book prize. (The Goncourt and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize/International Booker Prize are each represented by only fourteen titles.)

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

30 August 2023 - Wednesday

Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A
Międzynarodowa Nagroda Literacka im. Zbigniewa Herberta

       Jhumpa Lahiri Q & A

       At Columbia News Eve Glasberg has a Q & A with the (English- and Italian-writing) author and translator, as Jhumpa Lahiri Returns to Barnard as a Professor.
       Among the classes she'll be teaching this semester is one on Exophonic Women -- sorry, already all full.
       Good to hear that she thinks: "Ideally, I would require all creative writing concentrators to take a course in literary translation".
       And interesting that among her current projects, she is: "co-translating Ovid's Metamorphoses".

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

       Międzynarodowa Nagroda Literacka im. Zbigniewa Herberta

       They've announced the winner of this year's Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award, and it is Lithuanian author Tomas Venclova; see also the Radio Poland report.

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

29 August 2023 - Tuesday

New World Literature Today | North Korean science fiction
The Forest Brims Over review

       New World Literature Today

       The September-October issue of World Literature Today is now out, with a focus on 'Indigenous Literatures of the Americas'.
       Lots of good reading -- including the extensive book review section.

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

       North Korean science fiction

       Via I'm pointed to Andrada Fiscutean writing on The strange, secretive world of North Korean science fiction at ars technica.
       Disappointingly, we don't get more than such snippets and summaries; I'd love to see complete works of North Korean science fiction.

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

       The Forest Brims Over review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ayase Maru's The Forest Brims Over, recently out from Counterpoint Press.

       In her npr review, Lily Meyer writes;
Ayase seems so set on skewering the woman-hating culture in which Nowatari flourishes that she does not allow him, or any other character, to surprise the reader. As a result, the novel quickly gets polemical and dull. From a correcting-inequity perspective, even this is, perhaps, a good thing: Gender equality is tough to achieve if only the best novels by women get translated.
       I don't quite agree with her opinion of the book, but I'm fully on board with the conclusion -- that we should see more *bad* novels by women as well !
       (I actually think it hasn't been quite the case that "only the best novels by women" are getting translated, but there's certainly a lot of room for a much greater range of translations than what US/UK publishers currently offer (as the next book I'll be reviewing is ... yet another Akutagawa Prize-winner; we've seen ... a few of those).)

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

28 August 2023 - Monday

US fall indie books | Biographical and Autobiographical Writings review

       US fall indie books

       At Publishers Weekly Matt Seidel previews the Big Indie Books of Fall 2023 in the US.
       Far from all of them, but certainly some of interest to look out for.

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

       Biographical and Autobiographical Writings review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Leon Battista Alberti's Biographical and Autobiographical Writings, just about out from Harvard University Press, in their I Tatti Renaissance Library.

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

27 August 2023 - Sunday

Coming this fall | Bret Easton Ellis Q & A

       Coming this fall

       In The Guardian Justine Jordan, Fiona Sturges, and David Shariatmadari offer a run-down of some of What to read this autumn: 2023's biggest new books.
       UK-centric -- and, of course, only the tip of the iceberg.

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

       Bret Easton Ellis Q & A

       The Guardian's 'The books of my life'-feature has The Shards-author Bret Easton Ellis: ‘I connected with Quentin Tarantino’.
       Among his responses:
The book I could never read again

Probably something by Robert Ludlum, whose mammoth super-violent bestselling thrillers from the 1970s were a staple with my father (The Gemini Contenders, The Holcroft Covenant) and later with me – dense, tightly plotted, often gory, cinematic. I was fascinated then but picked one up a couple of years ago and could barely get through a chapter. Plot isn’t enough.

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

26 August 2023 - Saturday

Hsu-Tang Library | Cynthia Ozick archive
The Wizard of the Kremlin review

       Hsu-Tang Library

       As longtime readers know, I'm a big fan of bilingual editions, especially of classical work, and so it's great to see another series, as Oxford University Press has announced that A major new series presents three millennia of classical Chinese literature -- the Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature, publishing: "bilingual editions of literature from the Zhou Dynasty to the end of Imperial China in 1911.".
       The first batch of five looks promising -- especially the Pu Songling; I hope to get a look at these and be able to cover them soon.

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

       Cynthia Ozick archive

       I missed the recent announcement, but it's good to hear that At Beinecke, papers of Cynthia Ozick now open for ‘delighted discovery’, as: "The archives of renowned writer Cynthia Ozick are now open to researchers at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library".
       286.65 linear feet, in 329 boxes !

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

       The Wizard of the Kremlin review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Giuliano da Empoli's already much-discussed Vladimir Putin-novel, The Wizard of the Kremlin -- a finalist for the 2022 prix Goncourt.

       It's only coming out in the US in October (from Other Press) -- and only in January in the UK (from Pushkin Press); I'm surprised they haven't moved up the publication dates .....
       And, yes, Yevgeny Prigozhin makes an appearance in the novel as well .....

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

25 August 2023 - Friday

Ackerley Prize shortlist | Keith Ridgway Q & A

       Ackerley Prize shortlist

       They've announced the three-title-shortlist for this year's Ackerley Prize, "awarded each year to a volume of autobiography by a British author"
       This one is interesting because: "The judges do not accept submissions by publishers but call in books themselves" -- thirty-three this year. I'm not sure this is preferable to leaving it to publishers to submit books -- and it's probably better than prize-processes like those of the Booker Prize, which limit how many books any given publisher can submit ... -- and it certainly keeps the number of entries manageable. But a bit more transparency would certainly help -- such as revealing which titles they had called in .....
       The winner will be announced 28 September.

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

       Keith Ridgway Q & A

       At Lunate they have a Q & A with the author, in Keith Ridgway's Shelf Life
       Good to hear he's had good experiences in the US, but I wish he'd dish re. the UK ...:
It’s a tough business, and I’ve been quite unlucky I think in that I’ve never had consistency in the UK. With Barbara Epler at New Directions it’s been the opposite. She looks after me. She’s a wonderful publisher and a wonderful person, and I’m extremely lucky to be at New Directions. They’re great. I mean, I could tell you a lot about the publishing industry in the UK. I have a lot of years under my belt now. But it would probably get us both sued.

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

24 August 2023 - Thursday

C.H.Beck takes over Unionsverlag | Sophist-lives reviews

       C.H.Beck takes over Unionsverlag

       Some major publishing-consolidation news out of the German-speaking world, as Swiss publisher Unionsverlag -- founded in 1975, and with a very impressive list of international authors (apparently some: "600 authors from 70 countries, translated from approx. 40 original languages") -- has announced that Unionsverlag joins C.H.Beck publishing group. That would be venerable publisher C.H.Beck.
       Here's hoping it goes well.

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

       Sophist-lives reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of the new translations of the two biographical collections in the new edition of volume 134 in the Loeb Classical Library:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

23 August 2023 - Wednesday

Deutscher Buchpreis longlist | PEN Translates grants

       Deutscher Buchpreis longlist

       They've announced the longlist for this year's German Book Prize, the leading German novel prize.
       Twenty titles are left in the running, selected from 196 titles they considered (but, alas, don't reveal; 172 were submitted by publishers and an additional 24 were apparently called in by the judges).
       Some familiar names here, of authors whose work has previously been published in English. There don't seem to be any immediately obvious favorites (and I'm afraid I am only tempted by a handful; I'll see if I'll be able to get to them).
       The shortlist will be announced 19 September.

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

       PEN Translates grants

       English PEN has announced the latest batch of their PEN Translates grants, to thirteen titles originally written in nine languages.
       Two titles coming from Tilted Axis are among the awarded titles -- translations from Eastern Armenian and Kazakh. Several translations from Armenian are already under review at the complete review, but I'm looking forward to seeing something from the Kazakh (even if it is a short story collection, rather than a novel ...).
       I actually have two of these books already -- Scholastique Mukasonga's Kibogo came out from Archipelago in the US last year (see their publicity page), while my copy of Ismail Kadare's A Dictator Calls arrived ... yesterday (US publisher: Counterpoint). And having reviewed Yuri Felsen's Deceit, I'm looking forward to seeing his Happiness.

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

22 August 2023 - Tuesday

Scottish literature

       Scottish literature

       In The National Alan Riach considers Scottish literature: What is it and who needs it ?
       Apparently: "the case of Scottish literature is singular.".
       I certainly do appreciate how firm he is in explaining:
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is NOT an example of Scottish literature and it is best referred to not by its familiar nickname but rather as “The English Play” since it’s so thoroughly a product of an English politico-national sensibility, or, we might specify, a Warwickshire/London imagination moving fluently in London’s high circles and swimming in the city’s low life too.
       And, of course, part of the problem is that:
When our politicians go to London, they usually lose their fire and sell out. Likewise, our artists and writers.

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

21 August 2023 - Monday

Karin Tidbeck Q & A | Rentrée littéraire 2023

       Karin Tidbeck Q & A

       At the Times of Malta Teodor Reljić has a Q & A with the Swedish-(but-also-English-)writing author Karin Tidbeck, in ‘Categorise my work if you must. I won’t’.
       Among her observations:
Writing in a second language is a constant reminder that words mean things, that they have roots, that they affect perception. Amatka was me saying my piece on language, pretty much.

As for translation, I became a translator out of necessity. I don’t have the formal education. But it has taught me a lot about how perception shifts according to language. I’m not completely into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis but it does tickle the imagination.
       Several of her works are available in English -- not just the ones she wrote in English .....

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

       Rentrée littéraire 2023

       The French rentrée littéraire -- the big fall flood of book-releases -- has been unleashed !
       Except -- it's not that big this year. As Manon Derdevet writes in her AFP report (here at Radio France): Rentrée littéraire : il n'y a jamais eu aussi peu de romans publiés depuis 1997, as, with just 466 novels in the mix it's the meagerest offering since 1997. By way of comparison: between 2005 and 2012, the average was 676.
       Ah, the good old days .....

       For some early overview/summary coverage see, for example:        Perhaps more useful is just checking out what the publishers are offering: here the rentrée littéraire-pages of some of the leading publishers:        See also Albin Michel's list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).

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

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