ReadySteadyBlog

Time's Flow Stemmed has a useful blog on Beckett: A Bibliography of Secondary Literature which lists 16 key titles. As you'd expect, a number of commenters have jumped in to add their own favourite... Worth a read!

The shortlist for this year’s JQ-Wingate Literary Prize has been revealed. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in June. The shortlist is as follows:



From the press release:


Commenting on the shortlist, Chairman of the Judging panel Anne Karpf said: “We had — as book prize juries famously do — a full and frank discussion. To get onto the shortlist a book needed at least two passionate advocates. The four that emerged are all powerful works that leave you with a different view of the world. Of the two novels, both of them set in pre- and post-war Europe, one is the baroque, unflinching story of a woman's survival (of sorts) despite the depredations of a damaged family and damaging culture; the other, the moving tale of a modernist house whose inhabitants’ hopes for a better future are challenged by the tragic times in which they live. Our two non-fiction choices both ask searching questions about the Middle East: one, controversially, about Israel's founding national story and its Biblical origins; the other, the first ever biography of a Palestinian writer of any kind, beautifully illuminating the Palestinian experience. Together these four books make up a literary feast.”

The JQ-Wingate Literary Prize is "the only UK prize to recognise writing by Jewish and non-Jewish authors, which stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern while appealing to the general reader."

The Three Percent blog has posted its 2010 Best Translated Book Award: Fiction Longlist. Some great looking titles on it -- I'm particularly keen to read Ghosts by César Aira -- but no room, it would seem, for Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones (translated by my friend Charlotte Mandell)...

Before I rest up for the weekend, a coupla things to draw your attention to:


  • Steve provides us with "a selection that might be called The Best of This Space"
  • The Armies by Colombian writer Evelio Rosero, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean, has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (as you know, I was judge, and I'm still scratching my head as to how come Dag Solstad's Novel 11, Book 18 wasn't even shortlisted!)
  • interviews over on The Book Depository site with historian Andy Beckett ("The British 70s are full of political surprisess if you make yourself look at them with fresh eyes... the Labour vote in the 1979 election actually went up, especially among wealthier voters -- the idea that the behaviour of the unions sent the electorate running screaming away from Labour is a myth...") and Thomas Traherne expert Denise Inge ("Readers with imagination fall for Traherne. He takes you on unexpected interior journeys into desire and lack, infinity, time and eternity. Reading him isn't always easy since the language of his day is so different from ours and his world view sometimes challenges the assumptions of our time, but he will thrill, surprise and exhaust you...")
  • a brief interview with Béla Tarr
  • trailer for new Godard film Socialisme

Steve (who has just posted an excellent little piece on Littell's The Kindly Ones) and the other judges have finally chosen: Naomi Klein has won the Warwick Prize for The Shock Doctrine.


From the press release:


Naomi Klein was announced last night as the winner of the first £50,000 Warwick Prize for Writing.

The unique new prize, run and self-funded by the University of Warwick, stands out as an international cross-disciplinary biennial award open to any genre or form of writing.

Canadian journalist Klein's winning book, The Shock Doctrine, was chosen from a diverse shortlist of six international titles. This year's prize theme of Complexity was interpreted differently by each writer, all experts in their genres, and ranged from music criticism and scientific theory to Spanish fiction.

Naomi Klein said "At a time when the news out of the publishing industry is usually so bleak it's thrilling to be part of a bold new prize supporting writing, especially alongside such an exciting array of other books."

I should have linked to this earlier, Three Percent's Best Translated Book of 2008: Fiction Finalists:


  • Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein (Archipelago) (Overview)
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) (Overview)
  • Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions) (Overview)
  • Voice Over by Céline Curiol, translated from the French by Sam Richard (Seven Stories) (Overview)
  • The Darkroom of Damocles by Willem Frederik Hermans, translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke (Overlook) (Overview)
  • Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Archipelago) (Overview)
  • Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions) (Overview)
  • Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (New York Review Books) (Overview)
  • Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis (Melville House) (Overview)
  • The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (New York Review Books) (Overview)

I've been working away for a few days, so I'm a bit shattered. Here's another link for you whilst I recover and drink tea!


Via a reader's words:


This year’s Nobel laureate Le Clézio gives an impassioned Nobel Prize lecture, in a sense taking off from where Doris Lessing had left it last year. He quotes a passage from Stig Dagerman that influenced him as a writer and touches on many themes including a call for re- claiming the word “globalization” as well as for reclaiming a place for literature in face of the audio and visual media. Among others, he dedicates his lecture to the Mauritian Hindi writer Abhimanyu Unnuth, Qurratulain Hyder (for Aag Ka Darya) and the Mexican writer, Juan Rulfo.

Juan Goytisolo has been awarded the Premio Nacional de las Letras Españolas. See also Juan Goytisolo Wins Spain's National Prize for Literature at the Latin American Herald Tribune (via the literary saloon.)

The shortlisted titles that are in the running for this year's Costa Book Awards have just been announced. The winner of each category will be announced on January 6th next year, and the overall winner will be announced on January 27th -- all the details should you need to know them (it's not a thrilling list) over on Editor's Corner.

The Goncourt prize and Prix Renaudot winners have been announced (via the Guardian):


In the year when the literary world turned to France, with the award of the Nobel prize for literature to JMG le Clézio, Paris has returned the compliment, awarding two of the biggest prizes of the French literary calendar to writers born in Afghanistan and Guinea.

Atiq Rahimi has won the 2008 Goncourt prize with his fourth novel, Syngué sabour (Patience Stone), his first to be written directly in French rather than the Persian he spoke during his childhood in Afghanistan, while the Prix Renaudot has been taken by Tierno Monénembo for Le roi de Kahel (The King of Kahel). More.

Booker prize judge Louise Doughty reckons that male academics on the judging panels of contemporary book prizes choose "the literary and the obscure to impress their colleagues." She must be right, of course. I mean, if we take a look at the last, say, ten books to win the Booker Prize we'll find such obscure, rebarbative and arcane titles as The Life of Pi, Vernon God Little and The Inheritance of Loss, books that can only be read and understood by the snobbish literary elite with their big heads packed full of big, bookish brains.


These previous Booker winners aren't the dreadful, sentimental tosh I took them to be but are, it would seem, inaccessible and highbrow.


God knows which of the six shortlisted titles will win tonight, but we can rest easy that it won't be something that will make us actually have to think. Thank the Lord for that. No, thank Doughty.

Via the Bookseller:


French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2008.

He has already won Prix Théophraste Renaudot (1963), Prix Larbaud (1972), Grand Prix Jean Giono (1997), Prix Prince de Monaco (1998) and Stig Dagermanpriset (2008). His novel Désert received the Grand Prix Paul Morand from l’Académie française in 1980.

His first novel was Le procès-verbal (The Interrogation) in 1963. He has since written a raft of ecologically-themed novels including Terra amata; Le livre des fuites (The Book of Flights); La guerre (War); and Les géants (The Giants). Among Le Clézio’s most recent works are Ourania (2005); Raga: approche du continent invisible (2006); and Ballaciner (2007). A new work, Ritournelle de la faim, has just been published. Le Clézio has also written several books for young people.

Firstly, do, please, forgive the recent radio silence. I've been out and about (Windsor and Big London) doing exciting Book Depository-related things. The Book Depository recently expanded so lots of cool stuff is going on behind the scenes which you'll see the fruits of soon ...


Regular readers will know that I've always been a bit of fan of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (last year, for example, I called it "by far the most interesting of the UK-based literary prizes [which] always turns up a few gems"). Well, I'm thrilled (and delighted and honoured) to say that I've been asked to be one of the judges for the 2009 prize. Yay! How exciting! 80-odd more books to read, mind! Dunno much more than this for now, but shall report back when I learn more (the judging panel is meeting up for our first natter in a few weeks time).

Best news I had on returning from my holiday was that Rosalind Belben's wonderful Our Horses in Egypt has won the 2008 James Tait Black Memorial Prize.


More on this over at This Space where Steve calls for the reissuing of Rosalind's "remarkable earlier novels Dreaming of Dead People (1979) and Is Beauty Good (1989)." Here, here!

The University of Warwick has launched a £50,000 writing prize, but the best part is that our good friend Stephen Mitchelmore, ReadySteadyBook-contributor, blogger at the peerless This Space, has been asked to be one of the judges:


How does writing evolve? Where is its moving edge? Is all writing at its very best a type of creative writing? To explore these questions and to identify excellence and innovation in new writing The University of Warwick is today launching the £50,000 Warwick Prize for Writing.

This substantial prize stands out as an international and cross-disciplinary award. It will be given biennially for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form. The theme will change with every prize: the 2009 theme is Complexity.

China Miéville, award-winning writer of what he describes as weird fiction, will chair the panel of five judges. Other judges include mathematician Professor Ian Stewart and literary blogger Stephen Mitchelmore. A longlist of 15 to 20 titles will be announced in October 2008 followed by a shortlist of six titles in January 2009. The winner will be announced in February 2009 in Warwick.

I've just posted a nice chunky interview with Paul Verhaeghen (2008 IFFP winner with Omega Minor) over on The Book Depository.

Three awards for literary translations into English have gone to independent publishers in recent days (via the Guardian):


Margaret Jull Costa's translation of The Maias by the Portuguese novelist Eca de Queiroz was awarded this year's Oxford Weidenfeld prize at a ceremony on Friday evening...

Costa is a previous winner of the Weidenfeld Oxford award, her version of Jose Saramago's All the Names having taken the 2000 prize. But 2008 is proving particularly fruitful, since just weeks ago this English rendering of The Maias also secured the $3,000 PEN/Book-of-the Month club translation prize.

[Also] translator David Dollenmayer has been chosen to receive the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his version of Moses Rosenkranz's Childhood: An Autobiographical Fragment, an idiosyncratic portrait of Jewish life in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The fourth annual Believer Book Award has been awarded to Tom McCarthy's all-conquering Remainder.

Paul Verhaeghen, who recently won the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize with Omega Minor (which I'll be reviewing for The Liberal soonish), has a Tuesday Top Ten list up on my Editor's Corner blog over at The Book Depository.


Also up on Editor's Corner today: 50 Open Source Resources for Online Writers and some info about the National Year of Reading.

Last Thursday, I attended the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize awards at the Serpentine gallery in London (currently showing an exhibition of Maria Lassnig's dreadful paintings). As you'll all know by now, Paul Verhaeghen's massive Omega Minor (Dalkey Archive Press) -- vexing for me -- won the day.


Why my problem? Well, The Liberal magazine ("devoted to a renaissance in liberal politics and the liberal arts. First founded in 1821 by the Romantic poets Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt, the magazine is committed to regenerating liberalism and reinvigorating the public sphere") asked me to review whatever was the winner -- so now I have actually to read the monster!


I was privileged to have a meal with Paul and gang after the prize giving, and I'll be interviewing him here on ReadySteadyBook soon.


The prize money was £10,000, but, as Paul said in his acceptance speech, and as quoted on his blog, Babylon Blues, he is giving it all away:


... to avoid supporting the regime with more tax dollars than I already owe them, I have asked the Arts Council England to donate the money associated with the Prize, all 10,000 pounds of it, to the American Civil Liberties Union. Withholding the tax portion of those 10,000 pounds from the US Treasury will shorten the war by a mere eye-blink — its cost is currently 3,810 dollars per second — but the ACLU can use that money to great effect in their legal battles against torture, detainee abuse, and the silence surrounding it (more...)

The Literary Saloon tells me that they've announced the shortlist for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize "for translations into English from any living European language which have been published, are book-length, and are distributed in the UK."


Always good to see translated books getting some love but, as The Literary Saloon point out, "every title on this list [below] save the Mayröcker poetry collection is a new translation of a previously-available-in-English title. (Yes, even the Hermans, though that Roy Edwards translation from nearly half a century ago pretty much disappeared without a fight.) Surely this can't be a good thing." Indeed.


The list:


Well, at last, the genius that is Rosalind Belben has been recognised! Our Horses in Egypt has been shortlisted for "Britain's oldest literary award" the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes ("founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband's love of literature"). Yay!


The other novels on the shortlist are: The Devil's Footprints by John Burnside; The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; A Far Country by Daniel Mason and Salvage by Gee Williams (published by Alcemi "a new quality fiction imprint from" small Welsh publisher Y Lolfa).


Come on Rosalind!

The shortlist for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008 has been announced. "Six contenders from over 90 entries have been shortlisted for the prize, worth £10,000." They are:


  • Castorp by Pawel Huelle, translated by Antonia Lloyd Jones from the Polish, published by Serpent’s Tail
  • Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Carol Brown Janeway from the German, published by Quercus
  • Gregorius by Bengt Ohlsson, translated by Silvester Mazzarella from the Swedish, published by Portobello Books
  • The Model by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Don Barlett from the Norwegian, published by Arcadia Books
  • The Way of the Women by Marlene van Niekerk, translated by Michiel Heyns from the Afrikaans, published by Little, Brown
  • Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen, translated by Paul Verhaeghen from the Dutch, published by Dalkey Archive Press

Lucette Lagnado has won the $100,000 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her memoir The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World.


From the press release:


The Jewish Book Council is pleased to announce Lucette Lagnado as the recipient of the $100,000 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World [is] a work that The New York Times Book Review called “brilliant.” Lagnado, a senior special writer and investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was selected based on her demonstration of a fresh vision and evidence of future potential to further contribute to the Jewish literary community.

In the memoir, Lagnado chronicles her family’s heartbreaking tale of their exodus from Egypt and eventual resettling in Brooklyn. Through The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Lagnado has shed light on the untold stories of the nearly one million Jewish refugees across the Middle East, cast out from homelands they cherished and longed to return to until their deaths.

Looks good. And who hell Sami Rohr? Well, after spending his early years in post WWII Europe, "Sami Rohr moved to Bogota, Colombia, where he was a leading real estate developer for over 30 years. He currently lives in Florida and continues to be very active in various business endeavors internationally. His philanthropic commitment to Jewish education and community-building throughout the world is renowned. This Prize is a gift by his family to honor his love of Jewish writing, and to help encourage the continuation of the magnificent legacy of the People of the Book."

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist has been announced. By far the most interesting of the UK-based literary prizes, the IFFP always turns up a few gems.


Good to see the excellent Montano by Enrique Vila-Matas on the list and the wonderful Castorp is on there too. Let It Be Morning is on, but it is a very poor novel. I wrote a terribly scrappy review of it for the Financial Times: a mess of a piece as I was desperately trying not to say, "this is terrible! why have you made me read this!" Kehlmann's Measuring the World is diverting enough, but it isn't great ...


I've not read anything else on the list, but Kadare's Agamemnon's Daughter, Alan Pauls' The Past (Pauls is a writer much quoted by Vila-Matas in Montano and for this reason alone my interest is piqued) and Paul Verhaeghen's Omega Minor are on the table!

Via Three Percent:


When we first opened the voting, for the Best Translation of 2007, it looked like Bolano was going to win by a landslide, but in the end, it was Dorothea Dieckmann’s Guantanamo that came in first by a substantial margin.

The Savage Detectives finished a strong second, and Out Stealing Horses (which I thought would win), came in third. The Assistant was fourth, and all the other titles were pretty much bunched together.

Doris Lessing, author of many novels including The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook and The Fifth Child, was, earlier today, announced as the winner of the Nobel Literature Prize. More via Editor's Corner.

I'm running out of time (again), so I doubt I'll post anything new here today: apologies for that. On Friday, though, over on Editor's Corner, I did write a longish blog about the Booker prize which might prove to be of interest:


The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is an odd phenomenon. Each year, the Booker longlist (just 13-strong this year, previously a list of 20 titles), shortlist and winner casts a long shadow over the UK literary fiction scene, and defines what literary titles get pushed in the country's bookshops.

Gaining the prize is guaranteed exposure for the novel concerned and can fully establish the career of the writer who wins. This isn't always the case, of course: when controversial Scottish writer James Kelman won with his (astonishing and quite superb) How Late it Was, How Was he and his publisher simply provided an awful lot of books for the remainder shops! The book sold in its hundreds, not the usual tens of thousands that a Booker winner can expect these days. And Kelman's book seemed to be a turning point for the prize, for a few years after the committee steered clear of "difficult" titles and picked a crop of more populist winners in the subsequent years.

The Man Booker committee says the prize "promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year," but its rules (not least its stricture that any publisher must agree "to contribute £5,000 towards general publicity if the book reaches the shortlist") mean that very many fine books fall through the baggy Booker net. It is an oft-repeated figure that about 10,000 books are published in the UK each month. Many of those books are non-fiction and so immediately rule themselves out of consideration for the Booker, but very many are not. The prize, however, faced with this deluge of writing only considers a tiny handful of books. This year, just 120 were read by the judges.

As the Literary Saloon points out this ensures that even some very, very big hitters were left out of this year's longlist. No room was found for: Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee, Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje, My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru, The Song Before It Is Sung by Justin Cartwright, and The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe. And goodness knows how many gems by obscure writers have been missed. Disappointingly, the committee did find room to include journeyman dullard Ian McEwan with his mediocre and underwhelming On Chesil Beach. The scandalous omission of Rosalind Belben's wonderful Our Horses in Egypt damns this year's judges still further.

The Booker Prize is good fun. It gets books -- and often some very decent books -- onto the news and into the bookshops. And the longlist isn't a bad overview of some of the year's best books. But it is not a definitive filtering mechanism and, objectively, the prize often fails to fine the very best book of the year. It fails because, quite simply, it just doesn't look hard enough. Considering just 100-odd titles is something of a disgrace.

If you really want to know the best book of the year, ask the bloggers. They cast their net much wider and bring far more insight and passion to their reading than the Booker judges ever can.

Sorry I've been so quiet: very busy! I'll try to mention a few bits and pieces tomorrow (not least I want to brag to y'all about the fact that an essay of mine is now available in an actual, real book!)


Also, The Book Depository have been shortlisted in three categories for The Bookseller Retail Awards 2007. We are in the running for:


  • The Nielsen Supply Chain Initiative of the Year
  • The Peter Jones Award for Entrepreneurship in Bookselling
  • The Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year

Yay, a possibility of slipping into my tux again!

The winner of this year's Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize has just been announced. It was (yay!) Michael Hofmann for Durs Grunbein's Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems.


Guest Judge Robert McCrum praised the winner saying, "Michael Hofmann's startling, and occasionally magical, rendering of Durs Grunbein's Ashes for Breakfast, a new collection from one of Germany's contemporary masters. A vindication of the translator's alchemy, Hofmann's versions do not smell of the lamp. They look like poems that want to be poems. As translations they feel voluntary, unforced."

The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize "aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance." The shortlist for the prize was announced a week or so back; the winner will be announced on the 6th June. Let us hope Michael Hofmann wins for his work on Durs Grunbein's Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems.

On Monday and Tuesday, I'll be over in Harrogate at The Booksellers Association Annual Conference 2007 (The Book Depository is up for a 2007 British Book Industry Award):


The Annual Conference is the most significant events in the book trade’s year, attracting around 500 delegates. It is a unique occasion when booksellers, publishers and authors all meet together to debate issues relevant to the trade.

If anyone fancies buying me a pint of Yorkshire bitter when I'm over that way, email me!

Back in January, I noted the five finalists of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, administered by the Jewish Book Council of America. Well, the winner has just been announced: Tamar Yellin, author of The Genizah at the House of Shepher (Toby Press), and one of the two British finalists, has won the $100,000 prize (the largest-ever Jewish literary prize, and one of the largest literary prizes around). Congrats Tamar. The pints are on you!


Any of you good folk read this? After my Spinoza-fest, should this be next? And, by the way, have you seen my copy anywhere!? I can't find the darn thing!

Last week, on the 14th March, Being Arab by Samir Kassir (described by his publisher as a "Lebanese journalist, historian and radical democracy activist") won the Index on Censorship T.R. Fyvel Book Award 2007. I'm told: "Controversially, Kassir documents what he regards as the stagnation of the Arab world and its descent into nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism as a response to modernity." The book has an introduction by Robert Fisk in which he examines why Kassir was assassinated by unknown forces with a car bomb in Beirut on June 2nd 2005.

On Friday, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist was announced. The shortlisted titles are:


Five finalists have been selected for the new $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature:


The winner will be announced in mid-March. The Prize is the largest-ever Jewish literary prize given, and is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation [the US that is].

Sami Rohr's children and grandchildren established this award to celebrate Mr. Rohr's 80th birthday -- and to honor his lifelong love of Jewish writing.

Each year, a prize of $100,000 will be presented to an emerging writer whose work, of exceptional literary merit, stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern.

"One of the goals we wish to accomplish through the creation of the Sami Rohr Prize is the establishment of an elite corps of writers of Jewish literature from all over the world," said Geri Gindea, director of the program, which operates as a department of the Jewish Book Council. "This Prize will also help bring to light the emerging voices of today's Jewish writers, their own journeys, and their own unique experiences living as Jews in the modern world."

The five finalists are:
Naomi Alderman of England for Disobedience;
Amir Gutfreund of Israel for Our Holocaust;
Yael Hedaya of Israel for Accidents;
Michael Lavigne of San Francisco, CA, for Not Me;
and Tamar Yellin of England for The Genizah at the House of Shepher.

A very fine post from Steve, over at This Space, about Craig Raine's new book on TS Eliot's poetry (see excerpt) which is one of my Books of the Week this week.


Also, Seamus Heaney, who is currently recovering from a mild stroke, has been named winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry:


Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has been named winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, collecting a cheque for £10,000. He won for his latest collection, District and Circle, which draws on his travels to work on the London Underground in his younger days. The prize was presented by TS Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot, at a ceremony in central London. (More via the BBC.)

The literature category of the annual British Book Design & Production Awards has been won by Sylph Editions' beautifully presented Ten Poems from Hafez (via the Guardian blogs).

The shortlist for this year's Arvon International Poetry Competition has been announced. The shortlisted poets are (in alphabetical order): Valerie Clarke; Claudia Daventry; Sian Hughes; Ruth Padel; Rodney Pybus and Siriol Troup. The announcement of the final winning and commended poets will be announced on the 1st December 2006. (Rodney is a good friend of RSB, so I hope he wins!)

According to the BBC, "Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who has faced charges of insulting his homeland, is awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize." Awarded by the Swedish Academy, the Literature Prize comes with a cheque for 10m kronor (£740,000).


The Nobel Prize site says Pamuk has "in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city ... discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."


Bud Parr brings my attention to James Marcus's report from Pamuk's speech at the Pen World Voices Festival earlier this year and also to a recent review of My Name is Red. See also Scott McLemee's review of the recent retranslation of The Black Book. You'll find more too, as you'd expect, at the ever-excellent literary-saloon.

Well, you won't need me to tell you this I'm sure, but Kiran Desai last night became the youngest woman ever to win the £50,000 Man Booker Prize.

The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced yesterday. Nothing of particular interest on it to my mind. I was, however, amused to see that two books entitled Mother's Milk seem to be around and about this year. Edward St.Aubyn's shortlisted title and W.G. Shepherd's Menard Press title:


[Shepherd's] Mother's Milk is a series of thirty poems, written over a period of about thirty years. It charts the psychological renewal of the poet, his journey from alcohol-dependancy to sobriety. This slow awakening takes him from a dark night of depression and despair to a place of reconciliation, where he can feel whole and where the spirit is no longer located in spirits.

The Frontlist ...


... is a consortium of developers and writers from literary communities. We've formed to provide a new fair way to provide talented unpublished writers to have work annotated and critiqued by peers. The most well-received work will rise to the top, to be considered by a publisher.

The Frontlist is a community of talented writers that self-select work that they feel may be of interest to a publisher. Writers, upon signing up to The Frontlist, will be able to submit sample chapters of work that they are looking to publish. They will then be invited to provide detailed critiques on several pieces of work. Once they have finished this, their own work will go up for critique. Each month, the most well received work will be fast-tracked to the desk of a respected agent or publisher who specialises in the work's genre.

... Jason Cooper, a senior editor at Pan Macmillan (Picador) has agreed to read the submissions that achieve top reviews from The Frontlist.

Imre Kertész's Fatelessness (Harvill) has won the 2006 Wingate Prize ("established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize is now in its 29th year. The prizes for fiction and non-fiction are each worth £4,000 to each category winner, with £300 also awarded for the runners-ups in each category"):


At the age of 14 Georg Koves is plucked from his home in a Jewish section of Budapest and without any particular malice, placed on a train to Auschwitz. He does not understand the reason for his fate. He doesn’t particularly think of himself as Jewish. And his fellow prisoners, who decry his lack of Yiddish, keep telling him, “You are no Jew.” In the lowest circle of the Holocaust, Georg remains an outsider.

The genius of Imre Kertész’s unblinking novel lies in its refusal to mitigate the strangeness of its events, not least of which is Georg’s dogmatic insistence on making sense of what he witnesses–or pretending that what he witnesses makes sense. Haunting, evocative, and all the more horrifying for its rigorous avoidance of sentiment, Fatelessness is a masterpiece in the traditions of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Tadeusz Borowski.

Let us hope that this will mean all of Kertész's other titles will get translated.

RSB contributor (and my good friend), the poet, publisher, academic and critic, Michael Schmidt has been awarded the OBE: "For services to Higher Education and to Poetry". Huge congratulations Michael!

I should have mentioned this yesterday: on Monday, all the 2006 PEN Literary Award Winners were announced. The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, judged by Pierre Joris, went to Wilson Baldridge for his translation of Recumbents by Michel Deguy (Wesleyan University Press), a book I've championed before on RSB.


In his citation, he writes: “Recumbents is a work whose rhetorical and philosophical complexities make a successful translation a true tour de force. Exquisitely balancing poetic sensibility and philosophical insight, Wilson Baldridge has accomplished this feat through superb craftsmanship, an accurate ear for the complex music of the French original, and the depth of scholarship indispensable for the project. With its wide-ranging annotations, comprehensive introduction, and an afterword by Jacques Derrida (also translated by Baldridge), this bilingual volume is everything a poetic translation should be."

This year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has been won by Norwegian writer Per Petterson for his novel Out Stealing Horses (Harvill). Petterson shares the £10,000 award with his translator Anne Born. I've not read Petterson, but the runner-up for the prize was Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz (translated by Tim Wilkinson) which is an excellent novel.