Just received this email from New Directions, and rather than summarize and all that, I’m just going to let it stand alone. (Ironic that this comes out on the day of the Nobel Prize announcement . . . ). So here’s a letter from ND publisher Barbara Epler:
October 11, 2012
Late last week, we learned that famed poet, publisher, bookstore owner, artist, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti had been awarded the Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian PEN Club, a chapter of the larger PEN organization. Established this year, the prize carries a 50,000 Euro financial award.
After doing some research on the Pannonius Prize, Ferlinghetti discovered that a sizeable portion of the prize money had been provided by the Hungarian government, which has been widely accused of officially and unofficially stifling free speech. In light of this news, Ferlinghetti decided to decline the award, and sent this message to the President of the Hungarian PEN Club:
Dear Geza Szocs,
After careful research into the Pannonius Prize and its sponsors, including the present Hungarian government, I have come to the following conclusions: Since the Prize is partially funded by the present Hungarian government, and since the policies of this right-wing regime tend toward authoritarian rule and the consequent curtailing of freedom of expression and civil liberties, I find it impossible for me to accept the Prize in the United States. Thus I must refuse the Prize in its present terms.
However, assuming the total devotion of the Hungarian PEN Club and yourself to freedom of speech and social justice, I propose that the Prize money be used to set up a fund to be administered by the Hungarian PEN Club, said fund to be devoted solely to the publication of Hungarian authors whose writings support total freedom of speech, civil rights, and social justice. These are the only terms under which I can accept the Pannonius Prize.
In defense of individual freedom and democratic institutions, I am faithfully yours,
At that point Mr. Szocs offered to exclude the Hungarian government’s contribution to the prize money and to begin negotiations surrounding the proposed fund, but Ferlinghetti is steadfast in his views, saying:
I hereby refuse the Prize in all its forms. There is no possibility of my accepting the prize in a ceremony in the United States or elsewhere. I am sorry it has come to this, and I am grateful to those in Hungary who may have had the purest motives in offering me the Prize.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been a bastion of the New Directions list for over sixty years, and we are proud of his decision and stand by him in his fight for free speech.
President, New Directions
The shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize was announced earlier today. Looks like a decent enough list, although I’m pretty surprised that the David Mitchell book didn’t make it . . . Anyway, here’s the full list, and I’m sure over the next few days there will be tons of articles and posts analyzing this list. (Seeing that I haven’t read a single one of these books—although I am looking forward to C and the Emma Donoghue book sounds kinda creepy—I don’t really have anything to say . . . )
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue, Room
Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy, The Long Song
Tom McCarthy, C
Ed Nawotka’s piece in Publishing Perspectives is the first mention I’ve seen of this, but on Tuesday, the six finalists for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (aka, the “Arabic Booker”) were announced. Each finalist received $10,000 and the winner gets an additional $50,000.
Here is the shortlist with the author’s country in parenthesis:
A Cloudy Day on the West Side by Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel (Egypt)
Beyond Paradise by Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt)
America by Rabee Jabir (Lebanon)
She Throws Sparks by Abdo Khal (Saudi Arabia)
The Lady from Tel Aviv by Raba’i Madhoun (Palestine)
When the Wolves Grow Old by Jamal Naji (Jordan)
Hopefully someone will put up sample translations from all of these in the not-too-distant future. If/when somebody does, I’ll be sure to link . . .
The winner will be announced in early March, at the same time as the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
The shortlist for the Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa was recently announced and is made up of the following books:
Bom dia camaradas, Ondjaki (Agir)
Cantigas do falso Alfonso el Sábio, Affonso Ávila (Ateliê Editorial)
História natural da ditadura, Teixeira Coelho (Iluminuras)
Jerusalém, Gonçalo M. Tavares (Companhia das Letras)
Macho não ganha flor, Dalton Trevisan (Record)
O outro pé da sereia, Mia Couto (Companhia das Letras)
O paraíso é bem bacana, André Sant´Anna (Companhia das Letras)
O roubo do silêncio, Marcos Siscar (7letras editora)
O segundo tempo, Michel Laub (Companhia das Letras)
Por que sou gorda, mamãe?, Cintia Moscovich (Record)
Aside from the e-mail I got from the Ray-Gude Mertin Agency (which represents six of these titles), I’m having a hard time finding any coverage of this Prize in English. (No surprise.)
The rules of this Prize are a bit complicated as well . . . Seems that this Prize is awarded to the best book written in Portuguese and published in Brazil last year, that was originally published outside of Brazil between Jan 1, 2003 and Dec 31, 2006. The winner receives approx. 56,000 euros.
The link above does have descriptions of all the shortlisted titles, and I highly recommend using the Google translator to check these out. I’m particularly intrigued by this book:
Why I am fat, mother? – Cintia Moscovich
It deals with the auto-image crises of the gordinhos. It hates the food that the fattening, but loves the food that gives pleasure to it. These ambiguities are exceeded gradually, gram the gram, garfada the garfada one, chapter the chapter.
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .