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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

20 January 2022 - Thursday

Edgar® Awards finalists | WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist
Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Edgar® Awards finalists

       The Mystery Writers of America have announced the finalists for this year's Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
       The winners will be announced 28 April.

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       WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis shortlist

       The WORTMELDUNGEN-Literaturpreis is a literary prize for short texts (between eight and twenty-five pages), fiction or non, that engage with socio-political themes, paying out €35,000 -- making it one of the richest literary prizes going, as reckoned per word -- and they've now announced this year's five finalists.
       You can read all five of the texts, too -- links on the page -- though, yes, they are in German .....

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       Michelle Grangaud (1941-2022)

       Oulipo-author Michelle Grangaud has passed away; see, for example, the obituary by Frédéric Forte at Le Monde (paywalled, after a point, but at least a part of it is freely accessible).
       See also the P.O.L page of her works they published.

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19 January 2022 - Wednesday

Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists
'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation' | Korean fiction abroad | Bambi

       Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award finalists

       They've announced the finalists for this year's Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards, one of the leading Iranian literary prizes.
       The winners of these prizes will collect between one billion and one and half billion rials. Yes, that's only US$3,650-5,500, but it does sound impressive, doesn't it ?
       As the Tehran Times reports;
Five books, including “Without Father’s Name”, are competing in the novel category.


Other nominees include “Killing Angel” by Alireza Hassanzadeh, “The Prophet Who Made No Miracle” by Mohammad-Ali Rokni, “A Mute Sonnet” by Mitra Moeini, and “Sad Moon, Red Moon” by Reza Julai.
       See also the Jamkaran publicity page for Seyyed Meisam Musavian's Without Father’s Name.
       The winners will be announced in two weeks.

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       'The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation'

       In Columbia Paul Hond writes at some length on The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation (published in print as: The Impossible Art ?) -- featuring also comments by many Columbia University-affiliated translators.

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       Korean fiction abroad

       The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has apparently collected data: "on the sales of 492 sorts of South Korean literary translations" for the five-year-period 2016 to 2020, and at Yonhap News Agency they report that 'Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,' most-sold S. Korean literary book overseas.
       Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (which I haven't seen) has been:
translated into 10 different languages and sold more than 300,000 copies during the 2016-20 period. The book's Japanese translation, in particular, sold more than 200,000 copies since its release in 2018.
       The second-bestselling title was Han Kang's The Vegetarian "which sold more than 160,000 copies in 13 foreign languages".
       I hope the full run-down, with all the sales-figures, is published at some point.

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       A new translation Felix Salten's Bambi -- the basis for the Disney movie -- is getting a lot of attention, with Joanne O'Sullivan reporting at length at Publishers Weekly that New Bambi Translation Reveals the Dark Origins of the Disney Story and Kathryn Schulz writing about how “Bambi” Is Even Bleaker Than You Thought in The New Yorker.
       Fascinating also to learn that:
The English-language version, as translated in 1928 by the soon to be Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers, was enormously popular, earning rave reviews and selling six hundred and fifty thousand copies in the dozen-plus years before the film came out.
       The new translation, by Jack Zipes, is The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest; see also the Princeton University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at or; it's due out at the end of next month.

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18 January 2022 - Tuesday

Malayalam literature | Nnedi Okorafor Q & A | Arno Schmidt at 108

       Malayalam literature

       In Vogue (India) Sana Goyal reports that It's high time Malayalam literature claimed a spot on our bookshelves.
       Jayasree Kalathil observes:
The Crossword Book Award for Indian-language translation went to Malayalam literature nine out of 20 times between 1999 and 2019. But that was a prize for translation. What the JCB Prize has done is to make translated literature, and through it the amazing and varied regional literatures of India, an integral part of Indian literature in English
       It would be great if more of the translated titles were more readily accessible in the US/UK .....

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       Nnedi Okorafor Q & A

       In Chicago Nneka McGuire has a Q & A with the author, in Nnedi Okorafor's Books Focus on Future Tense.

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       Arno Schmidt at 108

       Just a reminder that today is Arno Schmidt's birthday; he was born on 18 January 1914.
       For more about him, you can always check out my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at or

       Bonus: it's also the anniversary of local favorite Edward Bulwer-Lytton -- whose My Novel Schmidt translated ..... See also, for example, Leslie Mitchell's biography.

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17 January 2022 - Monday

India literature and publishing study | UK debut novelists
Rider on the Rain review

       India literature and publishing study

       The British Council commissioned a research study from the Art X Company on 'India Literature and Publishing Sector Research', aimed:
at understanding the challenges faced by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry bodies when making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.
       The full study can now be found here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the English version -- and here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) -- the full version, in all the different languages.
       Among the observations: regarding Indian literature in English translation abroad:
There is a lack of awareness of what is available in translation from India, due to lack of proactive research. There is also a lack of knowledge with regard to the variety of languages and their literary outputs in India. Only niche publishers make a concerted effort to look beyond established perceptions.
The most crucial recommendation that was widely suggested across the board by our respondents was the need for a curated database of Indian literature available in English translation, and a showcase of such a database that could be accessed by agents, publishers and others interested in buying rights for the UK market.
       Some good suggestions here -- but I'm not sure how realizable they are.

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       UK debut novelists

       In The Observer they go about Introducing our 10 best debut novelists of 2022, which includes brief Q & As with each of the authors.
       Some fun titbits along the way -- such as the author who says that W G.Sebald was: "very dry and droll, very likable but sort of Eeyore-ish".

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       Rider on the Rain review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sébastien Japrisot's Rider on the Rain, recently re-issued by Gallic Books.

       Japrisot wrote the screenplay to the 1970 René Clément film -- starring Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland ! -- and this 1992 novel is ... well, a novel-version of that.

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16 January 2022 - Sunday

Prix Mémorable | Philosophical Notebooks II review

       Prix Mémorable

       The prix Mémorable is a French prize for a new edition of a forgotten French author or for a work by a deceased foreign author who has never previously been published in French -- and/or a few similar variations; basically an older, overlooked work that is now available in French; previous winners range from John Wain's 1962 novel Strike the Father Dead (2019) to Emmanuel Bove's My Friends (2016).
       They've now announced the winner of the 2021 prize, and it is the French translation of Luisa Carnés' Tea Rooms; see, for example, the ActuaLitté report -- and see also the New Spanish Books information page about the novel.

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       Philosophical Notebooks II review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kurt Gödel's Philosophische Notizbücher - Band 2: Zeiteinteilung (Maximen) I und II / Philosophical Notebooks - Volume 2: Time Management (Maxims) I and II, the second in the landmark De Gruyter series of his notebooks.

       This and the previous volume, while probably among the titles that will get the fewest readers of any of those under review at the complete review, are certainly among the ones I was most pleased to receive last, year, and to be able to now cover -- fascinating material.

       The rest of the work is very different, but I do also particularly like the final page of the notebooks here -- an almost poetic Ausklang to the otherwise so methodical work:

Gödel - Notizbücher II

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15 January 2022 - Saturday

Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       Bernard-Henri Lévy Q & A

       At Tablet David Samuels has an extensive Q & A with Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Nomad.

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14 January 2022 - Friday

Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022) | The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'
Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-2022)

       Iranian author Iraj Pezeshkzad has passed away; see, for example, the Iran Front Page report.
       Pezeshkzad's My Uncle Napoleon is one of the classics -- and certainly the comic classic -- of modern Iranian literature; see also the Modern Library publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Last year Syracuse University Press also came out with a translation of his Hafez in Love -- see their publicity page --; I haven't seen this one yet, but I hope to.

       (Updated - 20 January): See now also Emily Langer's obituary in The Washington Post, Iraj Pezeshkzad, celebrated Iranian satirist and author of ‘My Uncle Napoleon,’ dies.

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       The Millions' 'Most Anticipated'

       The Millions has now published their Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2022 Book Preview -- "nearly 200 books".
       Lots of good books here -- but quite a few of the titles I am looking forward to aren't found here -- beginning with The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (I just got my copy ...); see also the publicity pages from Riverhead Books and Fitzcarraldo Editions, or get your copy at or
       Just off the top of my head, among my other most-anticipated that didn't make this list are:        (And there are a lot, lot more.)

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       Hungarian books in translation in 2021

       hlo now complete their overview of Hungarian works published in English translation with those from the second half of 2021, in Hungarian Books in Translation: 2021/2.
       The only one of these I have/seen is the Bodor, which I am looking forward to getting to.

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13 January 2022 - Thursday

Banipal Prize | Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist
'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books' | Canada Reads longlist
Longing and Other Stories review

       Banipal Prize

       They've announced the winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and it is Sarah Enany for her translation of The Girl with Braided Hair, by Rasha Adly; see also the Hoopoe publicity page, or get your copy at or

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       Abolhassan Najafi Award longlist

       They've announced the eight titles in the running for the Abolhassan Najafi Award, an Iranian prize for the best translation into Persian; see the Tehran Times report.
       An interesting variety of titles -- from Chester Himes' A Rage in Harlem to Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

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       'Michael Dirda's Desert-Island Books'

       In The Washington Post Michael Dirda considers You're done with it all. You head for the hills. What books do you bring ? coming up with a list of sixty-six of his favorite books -- though he limits himself here: "to 20th-century prose by English-language authors, one book apiece".
       A very varied list, certainly of some interest.
       Only three of the titles are under review at the complete review:
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       Canada Reads longlist

       They've announced this year's Canada Reads longlist.
       Five panelists will choose five of these books to champion; these will be revealed on 26 January.

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       Longing and Other Stories review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Longing and Other Stories, a collection of three early stories just out in English, from Columbia University Press.

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12 January 2022 - Wednesday

Booker Prize judges | NEA fellowships

       Booker Prize judges

       They've announced who will be judging the 2022 Booker Prize for Fiction, with Neil MacGregor chairing the panel that includes Shahidha Bari, Helen Castor, Light-author M.John Harrison, and Broken Glass-author Alain Mabanckou.
       Great to see Mabanckou and Harrison as judges !
       [Updated: in an earlier version of this post I had mistakenly said Mabanckou was a member of the Académie française; he's not -- though he is a Francophone author, and was awarded their Grand Prix de Littérature in 2012.]
       Submissions are now also open for the prize -- now if they would only reveal what those submissions are, once they get them .....

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       NEA fellowships

       The (American) National Endowment for the Arts has announced "the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2022, with 1,498 awards totaling nearly $33.2 million.", including 35 Creative Writing Fellowships and fellowships to 24 translators.
       Lots of interesting projects here to look forward to.

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11 January 2022 - Tuesday

Reading in ... the US | T.S.Eliot Prize
Neal Stephenson Q & A | Islandia review

       Reading in ... the US

       Jeffrey M. Jones reports on the latest Gallup results, finding that Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past.
       The decline is pretty bad, the average number of books read down to 12.6, from 15.6 in 2016. The number of Americans who don't read at all has remained roughly the same -- 17% in the most recent survey -- but those who do are reading less, with the biggest decline in those answering that they read 11 or more books in the past year.
The decline is greater among subgroups that tended to be more avid readers, particularly college graduates but also women and older Americans. College graduates read an average of about six fewer books in 2021 than they did between 2002 and 2016, 14.6 versus 21.1.
       The sad conclusion is that: "Reading appears to be in decline as a favorite way for Americans to spend their free time", as:
The new data on book reading reinforce that the popularity of reading is waning, with Americans reading an average of three fewer books last year than they did five years ago and had typically read for the past three decades.
       Sigh, sigh, sigh.

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       T.S.Eliot Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's T.S.Eliot Prize, and it is C+nto, by Joelle Taylor; see, for example, Alison Flood's report in The Guardian.
       See also the Saqi publicity page for C+nto.

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       Neal Stephenson Q & A

       In The New York Times Magazine David Marchese has a Q & A with the Termination Shock-author, in Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us.

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       Islandia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Austin Tappan Wright's classic novel, Islandia, first published posthumously in 1942.

       This was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, back in the day -- while Kirkus Reviews said it was: "Definitely a stunt book, a literary and imaginative tour de force. Watch it".

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10 January 2022 - Monday

Bestseling in the US in 2021 | Translation into ... Balochi
2021 in review at the complete review

       Bestseling in the US in 2021

       At Publishers Weekly John Maher reports on the 25 bestselling print titles in the US in 2021 -- with the (NPD BookScan) numbers ! --, in Dav Pilkey Dominated the 2021 Bestseller List.
       Aside from one of those Pilkey titles, American Marxism was the only title selling a million copies (sigh); I haven't seen, much less reviewed, any of the top 25.

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       Translation into ... Balochi

       At The News on Sunday Fazal Baloch finds that: 'Balochi literature has recently witnessed a great surge in the realm of translation' in looking at A year in translation.
       Always interesting to see what gets translated into other languages.

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       2021 in review at the complete review

       Here is the annual overview of the year that was at the site, mostly in numbers:

       In 2020, 174 books were reviewed at the complete review, down considerably from the 198 in 2020 and the fewest in a long time. One reason was that the books were longer -- the 174 reviewed books had 51,302 pages, compared to 50,683 pages for the 198 2020 books -- with the average length of reviewed books 294.84 pages in 2021, up almost 40 pages per book over 2020 and by far the highest annual average to date; yes, I am increasingly drawn even more to long novels ..... (The median length of reviewed books -- 240.5 -- was also up 10 pages over the 2020 median.)
       The longest book reviewed was *only* 950 pages -- not a thousand-pager in the lot -- while 21 of the books were over 500 pages (compared to 12 in 2020). (Seven books were under 100 pages in length.)

       The average review length seems to have plateaued at a current comfort level (after steadily increasing to this point over the years), the 1545.14 words/review average in 2021 only slightly more than the 1521 in 2020. (Total review-words written -- given the fewer review -- was down considerably however, to 268,854.)
       The median review-length was 1397 words, and the longest was 3816 words long -- which was not even that much of an outlier, with six reviews clocking in at over 3000 words (and 27 more over 2000).

       You can find the 50 most popular reviews, 2021 here.

       The most popular author pages were:
  1. Amélie Nothomb
  2. Murakami Haruki
  3. Patrick White
  4. Cynthia Ozick
  5. Roberto Bolaño
       The most popular review-indices were for:
  1. Far East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) literature
  2. Mysteries and Thrillers
  3. Books Written Before 1900
  4. Erotic, Pornographic, and Sex-related books
  5. Eastern European literature
  6. French literature
  7. Books from selected Imprints and Publishers
  8. German literature
  9. Latin and South American literature
  10. Science fiction
       These were also the top ten indices last year -- albeit in different order. Last year's number one, the erotic index, has again slipped down to fourth place -- yo-yo-ing between the two positions for the past four years.

       Disappointingly, books originally written in only 29 languages (including English) were reviewed in 2021 -- down from 38 in 2020.
       The top ten languages were:
  • 1. English 45 (25.86% of all books) (2020: 54)
  • 2. French 27 (2020: 29)
  • 3. Spanish 14 (13)
  • 4. German 13 (11)
  • 5. Japanese 12 (13)
  • 6. Italian 9
  • 7. Chinese 7
  • 8. Arabic 5
  • -. Danish 5
  • -. Swedish 5
       It's more difficult to get any sort of meaningful count of countries, not least because countries change over the years (the Soviet Union, ancient Rome, etc.), but authors of reviewed books in 2021 came from roughly 51 countries, compared to 55 in 2020. The leading countries were:
  • 1. US 27 (2020: 21)
  • 2. France 22 (22)
  • 3. Japan 12 (14)
  • 4. UK 11 (23)
  • 5. Italy 9 (10)
       The ratio of male-to-female authors remains consistently poor, but women writers did almost make more than a quarter of all reviewed titles: 45 books were by female authors, 25.86%.

       Two titles received an 'A' grade -- The Membranes, by Chi Ta-wei, and Richard Zenith's biography of Pessoa.
       Eighteen titles got a grade of 'A-', 76 'B+', 69 'B'; the lowest grade was a single 'C'.

       Site traffic continued a longtime decline at the beginning of the year, flattened out over the summer, and increased at a good clip towards the end of the year.
       Regionally, the biggest decline in traffic was in South America, while the lowest decline was in Africa. Among the countries providing the most traffic to the site, growth was strong in the Philippines -- but even stronger in China, where it was up over 60% over 2020, pushing it into sixth place overall (up from ninth in 2020). Meanwhile, traffic from the United States was down -- and, at 32.95% of all traffic, dipped below one-third of all traffic for the first time.
       There were visitors from 215 countries and territories in 2020 (2020: 222).

       The countries from which the most traffic came were:
  1. United States (32.95%; 2020: 35.40%)
  2. India (9.56%)
  3. United Kingdom (8.92%)
  4. Philippines
  5. Canada
  6. China
  7. Australia
  8. Nigeria
  9. Germany
  10. Netherlands

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9 January 2022 - Sunday

Publishing in ... India | Review copies in 2021

       Publishing in ... India

       In The Hans India Zafri Mudasser Nofil looks at How publishers beat Covid blues in 2021 ! in India.

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       Review copies in 2021

       Unsurprisingly, the COVID epidemic really impacted the receiving of review copies at the complete review in 2020; the 231 (physical) review copies I did receive were the fewest since 2004. Publishers have now gotten more on track again, and so things did pick up considerably in 2021, with 331 review copy arrivals (and 389 book acquisitions in total).
       (I did have access to quite a few e-versions of books, but these are not included in the totals except for titles that were reviewed based solely on the e-version; I find the format almost impossible to work with (beyond as reference -- for name-/spelling-checking, for example) and will do pretty much anything to avoid them; in 2021 two reviews were off e-versions -- and that was two too many.)

       I reviewed a considerably higher percentage of review copies than usual: as of 31 December 2021 I had reviewed 105 of the 331 I had received (31.72%). (I have since reviewed three more.) By comparison: in 2020 I had reviewed, by year-end, 57 of the 231 review copies I had received (24.68%); in 2019 it was 102 out of 437 (23.34%).
       (Naturally, I continue to get to books received in any given year after that year is over -- so, for example, I have now reviewed 75 of the 231 2020 titles (32.47%) and 138 of the 437 2019 titles (31.58%).)

       A number of publishers send me more or less all their titles, and quite a few more send the titles they think I'd be interested in (mainly fiction in translation); several others send checklists or the like for me to choose the titles of interest, which are then usually (though not always) provided. Beyond that, I also request many titles -- responses to which still tend to be very hit or miss. But every book I receive is much appreciated, even if I don't manage to get to it, or don't immediately.
       (Books reviewed in 2021 included one where I had received the review copy 5721 days before the review was posted, another was reviewed 3312 days after it was received; yes, sometimes it takes longer than others .....)

       Ten publishers provided ten or more review copies in 2021 (compared to five in 2020) -- with four more providing nine each. The top fifteen providers of review copies in 2021 were:        As the list suggests, major publishers don't figure prominently as suppliers of review copies -- though admittedly this in part also reflects my review-preferences -- obviously much closer to what, for example, Dedalus publishes than one of the big five. That said, I could certainly do with seeing some more of their titles, especially those in translation. Also under-represented are a number of smaller but significant independents with a focus on literature in translation who are perhaps understandably reluctant to provide print copies of titles (at least to me; they generally do make e-copies available -- but, as noted, I basically can't work with/off those, much as I'd like to).
       One publisher whom I expect or at least hope to get (many) more review copies from in 2022 is the revived Dalkey Archive Press -- the top provider to the site in their heyday, and apparently getting back on course; only five titles all last year, but I keep my fingers crossed at seeing bucket-loads in 2022.

       What books I (can) get from publishers certainly does strongly influence what gets reviewed at the site. There are a number of major 2021 titles I would have covered, had I been able to obtain a copy; on the other hand, most of those are well-covered elsewhere, so it's probably for the best that instead I devoted the time to the titles from smaller presses that don't get nearly as much attention .....

       See also the comprehensive Index of Books Received and Acquired - 2021.

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8 January 2022 - Saturday

Musharraf Ali Farooqi profile | Europa Editions Q & A

       Musharraf Ali Farooqi profile

       IANSlive has a profile of the author, in Reading Manto not enough to know what's worthy in 20th century Urdu literature: Musharraf Ali Farooqi.
       He says:
My friends, the translation juggernaut Arunava Sinha and Daisy Rockwell, are making very important contributions to world literature through their wonderful translations of twentieth-century Indian literature. Similarly, I feel that a greater and more meaningful engagement for Urdu literature will come when we translate the many accomplished works from twentieth-century Urdu literature, which are not as much a part of the literary conversation today as they should be. Translations are the best and the only way to attract an international audience for our literature.
       It would certainly be great to see more translations .....

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       Europa Editions Q & A

       At the Literary Hub Corinne Segal continues their series, this time with Interview with an Indie Press: Europa Editions
       I've been reviewing Europa Editions titles at the complete review since they started -- lots of good stuff.

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7 January 2022 - Friday

F. Sionil José (1924-2022) | Revived African Writers Series ?

       F. Sionil José (1924-2022)

       Leading Philippine author F. Sionil José has passed away; see, for example, Zacarian Sarao reporting National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose dies at 97 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
       He is best known for his five-volume Rosales saga.

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       Revived African Writers Series ?

       Stephen Embleton made the announcement last month and, as Chukwuebuka Ibeh now also reports at Brittle Paper, Iconic African Writers Series Re-Launches After 19-Year Hiatus.
       This isn't the first (attempted) revival of the classic series -- Penguin launched theirs a couple of years ago -- but this does sound promising; I certainly hope it takes off.

       The original African Writers Series is, of course, truly classic; quite a few of the titles from it are under review at the complete review -- and James Currey's Africa Writes Back is a great series-history. (For a quick overview of the series, see also the Chadwyck-Healey Literature Collections information page.)

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6 January 2022 - Thursday

Silvers-Dudley Prizes | Ancient writing

       Silvers-Dudley Prizes

       The Robert B. Silvers Foundation has announced the first set of winners of the Silvers-Dudley Prizes for literary criticism, arts writing, and journalism.
       Gret to see this support for practitioners in these fields.

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

       Ancient writing

       The Bibliothèque nationale de France wil have an exhibit on 'L’aventure Champollion. Dans le secret des hiéroglyphes' from 12 April to 24 July, and in conjunction with that they have a lecture series on Archéologie des écritures anciennes, about ancient writing systems, starting 12 January; they look pretty interesting.

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

5 January 2022 - Wednesday

Nobel Prize in Literature 1971
Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners | Publishing in ... Turkey

       Nobel Prize in Literature 1971

       Pablo Neruda was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature; now, fifty years after the fact, the Swedish Academy has opened the archive of the deliberations for that year's prize.
       At Svenska Dagbladet Kaj Schueler has the (paywalled) first look -- and at TT Nyhetsbyrån they summarize the results. The big takeaway here: the shortlist consisted of Neruda, W.H.Auden, André Malraux, Eugenio Montale, and Patrick White
       The Swedish Academy has also released the list (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) of all the nominees -- and this is where the real big news is: Arno Schmidt was nominated !
       Other first-time nominees included: James Baldwin, William Golding, Philip Larkin, Elie Wiesel, and Romain Gary -- as well as more intriguing choices José María Arguedas, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, and the first (and only ?) Mongolian nominee, Tsendiin Damdinsüren.

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

       Whitbread Costa Book Awards category winners

       They've announced the five category winners for the 2021 Costa Book Awards -- which will now face off for the top prize, to be announced 1 February.

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

       Publishing in ... Turkey

       Turkish president Erdoğan's ... unusual monetary policy has wreaked havoc with Turkey's economy and at Middle East Eye Mefaret Aktas reports how: 'Skyrocketing prices of paper and growing fees risk sinking small and medium-sized publishing companies to the detriment of Turkey's cultural scene', in Turkish lira: Book publishers pushed to brink by currency crisis.
       Some interesting titbits about Turkish publishing -- not least, that: "Turkish publishers buy most of their paper from Portugal". Also of interest:
Half of the books published every year are translations, and mostly from English. Publishers make most of their money from translated books.
       But, unfortunately, rights/licensing is now prohibitively expensive .....

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

4 January 2022 - Tuesday

Gianni Celati (1937-2022) | Most Popular Reviews - 2021
The Subplot review

       Gianni Celati (1937-2022)

       Italian author and translator Gianni Celati has passed away; see, for eample, the ANSA report.
       His list of translations is impressive, including works by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Melville, Hölderlin, and Stendhal -- and culminating with his translation of James Joyce's Ulysses.
       The only one of his works under review at the complete review is his Adventures in Africa.

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

       Most Popular Reviews - 2021

       The most-viewed reviews at the complete review in 2021 were:
  1. El Filibusterismo, José Rizal
  2. The Dilemma of a Ghost, Ama Ata Aidoo
  3. The Legends of Khasak, O.V.Vijayan
  4. Killing Time in a Warm Place, Jose Dalisay
  5. Noli Me Tangere*, José Rizal
  6. Three Days and a Life, Pierre Lemaitre
  7. Now You're One of Us, Nonami Asa
  8. The Lost Daughter, Elena Ferrante
  9. Voice of a Dream, Glaydah Namukasa
  10. Klara and the Sun*, Kazuo Ishiguro
  11. The 120 Days of Sodom, the Marquis de Sade
  12. Decolonising the Mind, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  13. A Play of Giants, Wole Soyinka
  14. Never*, Ken Follett
  15. Silverview*, John le Carré
       Reviews with an asterisk (*) are ones that were first posted in 2021. Remarkably, no 2020 reviews were among the top fifty review in 2020 -- but eight 2021 reviews made the top fifty in 2021, including four in the top fifteen.
       In 2020 there were 14 reviews that hadn't been in the top 50 in 2019; in 2021 there were 23 that hadn't been in the previous top 50.
       It wasn't a surprise that the review of Noli Me Tangere was the most popular new review -- given the popularity of the review of El Filibusterismo over the years. More surprising was that several reviews only added late in the year did so well.
       Meanwhile, among 2021 reviews that did poorly, Doris Lessing's Shikasta is the one that I was most surprised by -- it didn't even make the top 250.
       See also all the top 50 reviews of 2021.

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

       The Subplot review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Megan Walsh on What China Is Reading and Why It Matters, in The Subplot, forthcoming from Columbia Global Reports.

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

3 January 2022 - Monday

Rentrée d'hiver | My Annihilation review

       Rentrée d'hiver

       The big French "rentrée", when they flood the market with new titles, is at the end of August, but there's a winter-rentrée as well -- with 545 novels set to hit the market; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo preview, 545 romans pour la 545 romans pour la rentrée d'hiver 2022.
       There are 385 works of French fiction appearing -- the most highly-anticipated being the latest Michel Houellebecq, the 736-page Anéantir; see, for example, the Flammarion publicity page.

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

       My Annihilation review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nakamura Fuminori's My Annihilation.

       This is the eighth Nakamura title under review at the complete review.

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

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