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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

18 April 2024 - Thursday

Republic of Consciousness Prize | Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist
Les aérostats review

       Republic of Consciousness Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Republic of Consciousness Prize -- rewarding: "the best fiction by small presses [in the UK/Ireland] publishing 12 or fewer titles a year and are wholly independent of any other commercial financial entity" -- and it is Charco Press, for Of Cattle and Men, by Ana Paula Maia, translated by Zoë Perry; see, for example, the report at The Guardian.

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

       Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Griffin Poetry Prize -- "the world's largest international prize for a single book of poetry written in, or translated into English" --, selected from 592 entries (including 49 translations, from 22 languages), with Don McKay getting the Lifetime Recognition Award.

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

       Les aérostats review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb 2020 novel, Les aérostats -- the 28th work by Nothomb under review at the site.
       I'm still a few behind -- but getting there .....

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

17 April 2024 - Wednesday

Sami Rohr Prize | Walking books

       Sami Rohr Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's (US$100,000) Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which alternates from year to year in honoring a work of fiction and of non; this year was a non year, and the prize went to Palestine 1936, by Oren Kessler.

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

       Walking books

       At Outside Peter Moore lists The 50 Best Hiking, Trekking, and Walking Books of All Time -- which I'd normally ignore, but ... props for the inclusion of The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en.

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

16 April 2024 - Tuesday

Max Lawton profile | Deep Vellum profile | More Salome variations

       Max Lawton profile

       At Prospect Josiah Gogarty profiles The translator bringing Vladimir Sorokin to English readers -- Max Lawton, translator of Blue Lard, among (many) other works.

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       Deep Vellum profile

       At The Mercury Paola Martinez reports on how Deep Vellum expands literary and translation options in North Texas -- that being publisher Deep Vellum, quite a few of whose books are under review at the complete review.
       Impressive to hear that: "Deep Vellum is now becoming international as they expand their administrative offices to New York and possibly London".

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

       More Salome variations

       Many Salome-variations are covered in my new novel, Salome in Graz, but the focus is on the ones that appeared up to 1906 -- but there is some mention of a few of the ones that came after, including some cinematic adaptations (Ken Russell !). One that my protagonists didn't get to was screened at the Berlinale practically at the same time the book came out -- Atom Egoyan's Seven Veils, starring Amanda Seyfried; it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.
       I haven't seen this yet, but hope to at some point; meanwhile, see some of the reviews, at:        And of course you can get my at Salome in Graz at Amazon, or here (where the promotional code LULUBOOKS15 at checkout gets you 15% off through 19 April).

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15 April 2024 - Monday

Mater 2-10 Q & A | Gabriel review

       Mater 2-10 Q & A

       Hwang Sok-yong's Mater 2-10 has been shortlisted for this year's International Booker Prize, and at Harshaneeyam has International Booker interview: How Sora Russell and Youngjae Bae translated ‘Mater 2-10’ from Korea

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       Gabriel review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of George Sand's 1839 Gabriel.
       I was a bit surprised that this hasn't gotten more attention recently, given it's subject matter -- issues of gender-identity -- but the literary quality is ... well, not great.

       This is published in the very impressive MLA Texts and Translations-series -- well worth working one's way through.

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

14 April 2024 - Sunday

Faroese Literature | John Braine profile

       Faroese Literature

       In New York they're holding Faroe Islands Culture Days this week, including with the interesting-sounding Literature from the Faroe Islands event on 17 April.
       This gives me opportunity to point to the impressive FarLit-site -- a Faroese Literature promotion site. The Nordics are very good with their literary support -- check out Norwegian Literature Abroad, the Icelandic Literature Center, and the Finnish Literature Exchange, for example -- but it's also a reminder of how many languages/countries can't (or can't be bothered) to offer something similar. (Translation-support isn't cheap but, relatively speaking, it isn't expensive either; I think a lot of languages/countries would do well to at least invest in information-sites, if not outright financial support.)
       (A reminder: the Faroe Islands have little more than 50,000 inhabitants.)

       Meanwhile, with convenient timing, The Dedalus Book of Faroese Literature is coming out shortly -- see their publicity page --: twenty-seven texts ! Dedalus has shown an impressive commitment to Faroese literature -- notably in publishing the works of William Heinesen (The Black Cauldron, etc.).

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       John Braine profile

       At Quilette Brad Strotten profiles John Braine, in Desire and Ambition.
       I'm usually all for the book over the movie, but I have to admit seeing the Laurence Harvey/Simone Signoret Room at the Top before coming to the book, and it -- especially the conclusion -- making a big (and devastating) impression on me.

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

13 April 2024 - Saturday

Wolfgang-Koeppen-Preis | The Red Handler review


       They've announced the winner of this year's Wolfgang Koeppen Prize, a biennial author prize awarded to someone whose work is in the spirit of Koeppen's, and it is Danish author Madame Nielsen; Open Letter published Nielsen's The Endless Summer a few years ago -- see their publicity page -- but much more is available n German.
       This prize has a solid list of winners, but it's of particular interest in how the winner is chosen: it's the previous winner who makes the selection -- in this case, 2022 winner Christian Kracht (The Dead, Imperium, etc.) chose Madame Nielsen.

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       The Red Handler review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Johan Harstad's The Red Handler -- the Collected Works of (fictional) author Frode Brandeggen, in an (extensively) annotated edition, just out in English, from Open Letter.

       (Two other Harstad titles have also been translated into English and are under review at the complete review, but I wonder if anyone will pick up his (1104-page) Max, Mischa & the Tet Offensive; see, for example, the Gyldendal Agency information page.)

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

12 April 2024 - Friday

AI and writers/translators | John McGlynn Q & A
Whiting Awards | Guggenheim Fellowships

       AI and writers/translators

       The Society of Authors: "ran a survey of its 12,500 members and other authors, and received 787 responses" regarding 'experiences of generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems', and they summarize the findings here.
       Interesting to hear that: 37% of translators, 20% of fiction writers, and 25% of non-fiction writers "said they had used generative AI in their work".
       Also: 36% of translators say they have already lost work due to generative AI, while 43% say the income from their work has decreased in value because of generative AI.
       And 8% of translators said they have used generative AI in their work because their publisher or commissioning organisation asked them to (!).

       Yes, it seems pretty clear that the future is AI -- coming/taking over even more quickly than expected.

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

       John McGlynn Q & A

       At the Asymptote blog Sarah Gear has Translating Indonesia's On-the-Ground Realities: An Interview with John McGlynn of the Lontar Foundation.
       Lontar have published a fantastic selection of books; several are under review at the complete review.

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

       Whiting Awards

       The Whiting Foundation has announced its ten 2024 creative writing fellows -- four in fiction, three in poetry, two in drama, and one in non-fiction; they each receive US$50,000.

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       Guggenheim Fellowships

       The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced this year's batch of fellowships -- 188, selected from almost 3,000 applicants; see all the fellows listed here, for now, by subject (though, alas, not yet with information about the projects they were awarded the fellowships for ...).
       The only fellow with any works under review at the complete review appears to be James Wood (The Book Against God).
       Fiction fellows include Emma Cline, Laird Hunt, Julia Phillips, and Emma Straub; non-fiction fellows include Jonathan Alter and Adam Shatz. The only translation fellow is Ryan Bloom.

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

11 April 2024 - Thursday

Most challenged books in the US, 2023 | Lauren Oyler Q & A
The Homeless review

       Most challenged books in the US, 2023

       The American Library Association has announced the ten most challenged books in the US in 2023.
       They're all: 'claimed to be sexually explicit', along with a variety of other issues .....

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

       Lauren Oyler Q & A

       At Interview Steven Phillips-Horst has a Q & A with Lauren Oyler Wishes You'd Fact-Check Your Reviews.
       Fact-checking always seems like a good idea, with reviews and most everything else -- but in fact Oyler also says that, while she fact-checks: "Some critics do not care so much about that, and that's perfectly fine". (It's not.)

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       The Homeless review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Stefan Żeromski's 1900 novel, The Homeless, just out in English, from Paul Dry Books.

       Żeromski was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four years running before his death.

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

10 April 2024 - Wednesday

International Booker Prize shortlist | PEN America Literary Awards longlists
Carol Shields Prize shortlist

       International Booker Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title-strong shortlist for this year's International Booker Prize.
       None of these are under review at the complete review, though I have two of them (the two published by Scribe).
       The winner will be announced 21 May.

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

       PEN America Literary Awards longlists

       PEN America has announced the longlists for their Literary Awards.
       The only titles under review at the complete review are PEN/Jean Stein Book Award-longlisted title Biography of X, by Catherine Lacey, and PEN Translation Prize-longlisted The Premonition, by Banana Yoshimoto.
       The small print at the bottom of the announcement notes: "These longlists have been amended and updated at the request of individual authors", as there has been considerable criticism of PEN America for their stance (or lack of one) regarding what is happening in Gaza and so, for example, Eugenia Leigh has withdrawn her originally longlisted book from consideration for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. See also, for example, the Sublunary Editions Statement on the 2024 PEN America Awards or Esther Allen declining the PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation. (As longtime readers know, while I think it's perfectly fine for authors (or translators) to decline a prize -- à la Sartre or, as here, Allen -- I do not think prizes should take authors' (etc.) wishes into consideration when deciding on whether to long- or shortlist a book, or in awarding the prize (the author (etc.) can always decline it if they win), they should only concern themselves with the book(s). The book -- the text -- is all that counts.)
       The winners will be announced 29 April.

       (Updated - 11 April): See now also the statement from the Translation Prize judges.

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

       Carol Shields Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Carol Shields Prize for Fiction -- celebrating: "creativity and excellence in fiction by women and non-binary writers in Canada and the United States", and notable not only for its US$150,000 top prize but for also for awarding the four other shortlisted losers $12,500 each, making it one of the most remunerative runner-up prizes going.
       I haven't seen any of these.
       The winner will be announced 13 May.

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9 April 2024 - Tuesday

RSL Ondaatje Prize longlist | Jean Genet's Héliogabale

       RSL Ondaatje Prize longlist

       The Royal Society of Literature has announced the longlist for this year's RSL Ondaatje Prize, awarded: "for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" -- fourteen titles; see, for example, Olivia Emily's report in ... Country & Town House.

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

       Jean Genet's Héliogabale

       Yet another newly-found work by a deceased author -- Gallimard has published a four-act play by Jean Genet, Héliogabale; see their publicity page and the report at franceinfo.
       I hope to see this -- I'm always curious about Heliogabalus-stories. Antonin Artaud famously wrote one -- Heliogabalus or, the Crowned Anarchist; see, for example, the Infinity Land Press publicity page -- and Louis Couperus wrote a Heliogabalus-novel as well, De berg van licht. The only Heliogabalus-title under review at the complete review at this time, however, is Martijn Icks' The Crimes of Elagabalus. (I had a look at Harry Sidebottom's The Mad Emperor -- see the Oneworld publicity pae -- but didn't take to it.)

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

8 April 2024 - Monday

OCM Bocas Prize finalists | Salomé in Metz | Cut Guavas review

       OCM Bocas Prize finalists

       They've announced the three category winners -- in fiction, non, and poetry -- for this year's OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, which will now compete for the final prize -- which will be announced 27 April.

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

       Salomé in Metz

       The title of my new novel, Salome in Graz, refers to a 1906 performance of the Richard Strauss opera -- though there's a whole lot more to it -- and if you're reading it, or tempted to, you might want to check out other performances of the opera, such as the one at the Opéra Théâtre de Metz, which premiered on Saturday
       This one is interesting because it's a rare production of Strauss' French version of the opera -- as, yes, with the help of Nobel laureate Romain Rolland, he adapted Wilde's original French text (remember, Wilde wrote the play the opera is (closely) based on in French). It was performed a few times back in the day, but Strauss pretty much gave up on it -- buoyed, no doubt, by the incredible success the German version was having -- and it was more or less out of circulation for ages. Even in France, the German version is much more frequently performed -- so also the Paris Opera production that you can catch next month.
       Salome in Graz is very much about translation (and textual fidelity), so Strauss' French version -- and the English (and German and other) versions of Wilde's play -- play a significant role in the novel.
       Back to the Metz production: see the bande-annonce for the production, or José Pons' (French) review at Ôlyrix (where he finds, regarding the two versions that: "la version originale déploie des ressorts plus puissants que la version française qui tend à temporiser un peu les événements et à en réduire leur éclat").

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       Cut Guavas review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A novel shapeshifting as a screenplay by Robert Antoni, Cut Guavas or ... Postscript to the Civilization of the Simians.

       (This was shortlisted for the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize.)

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

7 April 2024 - Sunday

Bhadariya Library | Cloud Atlas at 20 | The Villain's Dance review

       Bhadariya Library

       In the Deccan Herald V.Raghunathan writes about A literary oasis in the desert -- the Bhadariya Library, which I was unfamiliar with.
       No pictures with that article, but see, for example, Priti David on Jaisalmer's underground library -- and, wow.

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       Cloud Atlas at 20

       Stephen King's Carrie is fifty -- see, for example, Neil McRobert in Esquire on Why Carrie Is Still Scary as Shit -- and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is twenty, with Gabrielle Zevin explaining in The Guardian Cloud Atlas at 20: What makes a novel tattoo-worthy ?
       I like the opening observation:
A literary agent once told me that when a fledgling writer compares their novel to David Mitchell’s, he invariably knows it will be awful. Once you have written a book like Cloud Atlas, you have not written Cloud Atlas because Cloud Atlas is not like anything.

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

       The Villain's Dance review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Fiston Mwanza Mujila's The Villain's Dance, just out in English, from Deep Vellum.

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

6 April 2024 - Saturday

Académie Goncourt spring prize shortlists | Sheikh Zayed Book Awards
PW 'Summer Reads'

       Académie Goncourt spring prize shortlists

       The Académie Goncourt has announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the shortlists for their three spring prizes -- for first novel, short stories, and biography; see also the Livres Hebdo report.
       Interesting to see that none of the finalists are published by Gallimard .....
       The winners will be announced 14 May.

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

       Sheikh Zayed Book Awards

       They've announced the winners of this year's Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, with Sons of the People-author Reem Bassiouney's الحلوانى - ثلاثية الفاطميين winning the literature category.
       (I also have her Al-Qata'i (Georgetown University Press), another of her historical trilogies, and look forward to getting to it.)

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

       PW 'Summer Reads'

       Publishers Weekly has published its lists of Summer Reads, in a variety of categories.
       Some titles of interest -- Ogawa Yoko's Mina's Matchbox ! (Pantheon; I just got the ARC, review to follow shortly) -- but fewer than I had hoped for.

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

5 April 2024 - Friday

EU Prize for Literature | Stella Prize shortlist | Book design
25 years of the Complete Review | The Counterlife review

       EU Prize for Literature

       They've announced the winner of this year's European Union Prize for Literature, selected from the thirteen national nominees considered this year (the prize rotates through the forty participating countries, thirteen or fourteen at a time), and it is Jordisk, by Theis Ørntoft; see also the Gyldendal Group Agency foreign rights page.
       This has also been nominated for this year's Nordic Council Literature Prize, and though it's a fat one -- 599 pages -- I think it's a pretty safe bet we'll see this in English sooner rather than later (though presumably quite a bit depends on the American characters and locale -- the European prize juries obviously approve, but it's unclear how US/UK publishers will see that).

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

       Stella Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Stella Prize, a leading Australian prize for women and non-binary authors.
       Six books are left in the running; the winner will be announced 2 May.

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

       Book design

       Via I'm pointed to Elizabeth Segran's Fast Company article on how HarperCollins is: 'reducing the number of pages in its books by tweaking their fonts and layout', in HarperCollins made a tiny tweak to its book design -- and has saved thousands of trees as a result -- pretty interesting.

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

       25 years of the Complete Review

       Twenty five years. Twenty five.
       The first reviews were posted at the complete review on 5 April 1999. A quarter of a century ago – making the site older than a fair share of its readers, and a relic of the twentieth century ..... It, and I, are still chugging along steadily (well, occasionally wobbling ...), 5222 reviews -- and many, many Literary Saloon posts -- later. (This Literary Saloon was a somewhat later addition to the site, with posting starting here only in August, 2002.)
       As always, I'm not sure how to *celebrate* such an occasion, as arbitrary as it is; perhaps the most notable thing about the site is simply its constancy, and it will be pretty much the same tomorrow as it was one year ago, and five, and fifteen, so this anniversary-marker doesn't really mark anything.
       There is, of course, the temptation to say it's been a good run and simply close shop, going the way of Bookslut (archived), the Quarterly Conversation (archived), or RALPH (The Review of Arts, Literature,Philosophy and the Humanities; archived), but my (deeply ingrained) sense of inertia goes both ways, and once in motion it seems just as easy to stay in motion ..... (So also, obviously, I will never try to reïnvent the site or myself as a BookTok-thing or whatever the next big thing is.)
       While I generally don't concern myself with the size of the site's audience -- the number of *hits* -- it's a bit hard to be in a celebratory mood given the recent tailspin of numbers. Google-searches provide most of the traffic to the site, and the latest re-jigging of their algorithm, from a couple of months ago, has hit the site hard, burying most review-page results in regions only the (fool-)hardiest of searchers venture. (I go there, looking for reviews to link to, and it's not only the complete review's pages that are buried deep down; Google has become terrible for (among many other things ...) simple 'title + author' searches.) This is (probably) a cyclical thing (it's happened before) -- the review-pages should bubble up again on search results, in a year or two -- but currently it's cut readership considerably, with 55% (!) fewer visitors in March of this year than March 2023 -- frustrating because I think many internet users are missing out: my reviews may not be particularly helpful, but the review-pages surely provide more information and better linkage than the majority of pages -- the ones Google serves up higher up ... -- on any particular title. So, yes, it can make this exercise -- what I do here -- feel a bit pointless -- but, also, over the long term, it all seems to even out -- and at twenty-five years the site has certainly reached long term horizons, at least reckoned in internet time.
       (Usually backlist-dominated, the Google-abyss has made for a significant shift in what the most-read pages at the site are, the core audience of regular readers -- fortunately a reasonably large base -- who now make up a much greater proportion of overall users checking in what the new reviews are as well as regularly checking out the latest Literary Saloon posts, making the site now very top-heavy (i.e. new pages getting the majority of views, unlike before when old reviews of titles people googled were the most popular; see, for example, the shift in the list of recent bestsellers.)
       In other respects, too, it's hard not to feel blah about how things are going. I very much appreciate the review copies I receive, but the trend continues to be to less and less incoming, with requests for specific titles as frustratingly hit or miss as always; old age has certainly not conferred any greater status on the site (helped no doubt by the constant churn of publicists -- some of whom are, no doubt, younger than the site ...) and it's certainly not a/the hot new thing ..... (As of today, I've received 65 review copies this year -- the fewest in that time span since back in 2004.)
       The smaller readership of course also has a financial impact, with sales through the Amazon links as well as advertising revenue all continuing their long decline -- another source of frustration. The sheer size of the site does help some in this regard, but the cash flow really is down to a mere trickle. I greatly appreciate the reader-support that I do get, but it also doesn't amount to very much right now.
       Finally, there's that whole sense (or lack thereof) of an online literary community. There was a mid-2000s heyday of activity and networks of connection with literary blogs, but that's largely long gone -- Daniel Green reflected on it recently at his 'litblog', The Reading Experience, in What Hath the Blog Wrought ? -- and while there is still a great deal of activity, so much of it is fragmented, all over the place. (One of the advantages of searching not only for literary news to link to but to reviews is that it still leads me to many individual reader-sites -- but so many of these float out there more or less in isolation.) The decline of Twitter has hurt as well, as it's no longer nearly as interesting a place of literary exchange either (though I still linger there).
       The complete review (and this Literary Saloon) has always been basically about aggregation -- collecting information, and linking to it, rather than engaging in discussion and conversation, but most of what I do feels evermore like talking into the void (though I do know there are quite a few of you dedicated readers who follow all of it !).
       All in all, rather than being in a celebratory mood, I pretty much just feel old.

       And what next ? Well, as I said -- and have often said -- probably just more of the same. I suspect I won't last another twenty-five years, but we'll see how it goes. And, yes, sorry -- don't look for the complete review-BookTok channel anytime soon .....
       A variety of unavoidable distractions and obligations will continue to temper activity here some for a while longer -- the pace of things has slowed down some over the past year or so, and that will continue through at least the summer, I'm afraid -- but I hope to get a bit better back on track before the year is out, and hopefully things -- including my mood -- will pick up again.

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       And remember that I have a new book out, a novel, Salome in Graz.

Salome in Graz: A Novel

       If you like what I do at the complete review and this Literary Saloon you might like this as well; it's very complete review-ish, for a novel .....

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

       The Counterlife review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Philip Roth's creative 1986 novel, The Counterlife.

       This was reviewed by, among others, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, and William H. Gass -- with Gass noting in his review (presumably paywalled) in The New York Times Book Review that: "In many ways it's everything that people don't want in a novel".

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4 April 2024 - Thursday

Jessica Cohen profile | 'Most Anticipated', spring/2024

       Jessica Cohen profile

       In The Jewish News of Northern California Andrew Esensten explains How Jessica Cohen became the go-to English translator of Israeli literature.
       Among her (impressively many) recent translations is Maya Arad's The Hebrew Teacher.

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       'Most Anticipated', spring/2024

       The Millions has its Most Anticipated: The Great Spring 2024 Preview up.
       Lots of books to look forward to .....

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3 April 2024 - Wednesday

John Barth (1930-2024) | Maryse Condé (193?-2024) | Windham-Campbell Prizes

       John Barth (1930-2024)

       American author John Barth has passed away; see, for example, the obituary by Michael T. Kaufman and Dwight Garner, and Dave Kim's appraisal, both in The New York Times (both presumably paywalled).
       Dalkey Archive Press has re-issued several of his works recently, such as The Sot-Weed Factor (publicity page), and several are also in print from Anchor.
       (I read all of these ages ago, before I started the site, but they're certainly worth revisiting.)

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       Maryse Condé (193?-2024)

       Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé has passed away; see, for example, reports in The Guardian and from the AFP.

       Much of her work has been translated into English -- including several titles recently published by World Editions and Seagull Books -- but the only title under review at the complete review is her What is Africa to Me ?

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

       Windham-Campbell Prizes

       They've announced the eight recipients of this year's Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes -- each receiving: "an unrestricted grant of $175,000 to support their writing".
       There are two recipients in each of the four categories -- fiction, non, drama, and poetry.

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2 April 2024 - Tuesday

Sami Michael (1926-2024) | Fernanda Eberstadt Q & A
Cats in Japanese literature

       Sami Michael (1926-2024)

       Israeli author Sami Michael has passed away; see, for example, Melanie Lidman's AP report.

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

       Fernanda Eberstadt Q & A

       At Interview Stephanie LaCava has a Q & A with Writer Fernanda Eberstadt on Growing Up at Warhol’s Factory.
       Amazing to hear:
EBERSTADT: The first pieces I ever published in my life were at Interview Magazine.

LACAVA: Really ? I didn’t know that.

EBERSTADT: Yeah. I worked there when I was 16 years old. I did a bunch of pieces in that magazine, an interview with Bruce Chatwin

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       Cats in Japanese literature

       At Her Campus Erin Kelley looks at Feline Figures: Exploring the Enduring Presence of Cats in Japanese Literature -- including, of course, Natsume Sōseki's I am a Cat.

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1 April 2024 - Monday

Martin Bax (1933-2024) | Salome performances | Traces of Enayat review

       Martin Bax (1933-2024)

       Doctor and author Martin Bax has passed away; see, for example, the Mac Keith Press tweet.

       As a writer he is best-know for his novel, The Hospital Ship.

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

       Salome performances

       Yesterday I mentioned how popular (or not) Richard Strauss' opera, Salome is -- or was, ranking outside the top 50 most performed operas since the 2020/2021 season. But, of course, it continues to regularly be staged -- and, if you've read my Salome in Graz or are planning too, you might want to catch a performance.
       So where and when are the next productions ?
       You can catch it:        The Opéra Théâtre de Metz production is of interest because they are playing it in French -- though unfortunately they do not make clear which French version they're playing; if you've read my novel, you know that -- as is the case with Wilde's play -- there's more than one to choose from .....

       The Metropolitan Opera production is also one to look forward to -- the "first new production at the company in 20 years" --, with Elza van den Heever in the title role (or rôle, as one of the protagonists in my novel would have it ...).
       This will also be shown in the Live in HD-series on 17 May, so you may be able to catch it at a venue near you .....

       Performances of the Wilde play are much harder to find ..... (But you can always read that -- which is what the protagonists in my novel would recommend in any case .....)

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       Traces of Enayat review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Iman Mersal's Traces of Enayat, out last year in the UK from And Other Stories and now available in the US from Transit Books.

       Conveniently timed -- well, the US edition is just about to be released ... --, Aida Alami has a big story about the author and the book in The New York Times, A Book Found in a Cairo Market Launched a 30-Year Quest: Who Was the Writer ? (presumably paywalled).

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31 March 2024 - Sunday

New Latin American Literature Today | Salome popularity

       New Latin American Literature Today

       The March issue of Latin American Literature Today is now available, with Alejandro Zambra as the featured author and an Elisa Lerner-dossier, among much else -- including an extensive book review section.

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

       Salome popularity

       So the title of my novel, Salome in Graz, refers to the 1906 production of the Richard Strauss opera.
       The opera was a big hit back in the day -- but what about today ? The invaluable Operabase has the latest statistics -- and in the past decade it ranks 37th among all operas, with a total of 720 productions.
       The trend, however, does not appear positive: the last year it ranked in the top 50 seems to have been in the 2020/21 season.
       Interesting to see the variation by country -- as it doesn't rank in the top 50 for the 2015-2025 period in France, Italy, UK, Russia, Spain, or Poland. Basically, it still does best in the German-speaking countries:
  • Austria - rank: 21 (62 productions)
  • Germany - rank: 26 (221 productions)
  • US - rank: 30 (89 productions)
  • Switzerland - rank 38 (17 productions))

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