Over the weekend, the National Book Critics Circle announced the list of finalists for this year’s awards, which consist of six categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, autobiography, biography, and criticism. You can find the complete list of finalists at the link above, but I just want to list the fiction finalists, since 40% of the list is literature in translation:
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from The Goon Squad (Knopf)
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (Farrar, Straus And Giroux)
David Grossman, To The End of The Land, translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (Knopf)
Hans Keilson, Comedy in a Minor Key, translated from the German by Damion Searls (Farrar, Straus And Giroux)
Paul Murray, Skippy Dies (Faber & Faber)
Interesting that there’s literally no overlap between this list and the National Book Awards shortlist . . . Not terribly surprised that Freedom is on here, but I really, really hope it doesn’t win.
In terms of the two translations, Dan Vitale reviewed both Comedy in a Minor Key and The Death of the Adversary for us earlier this year. Every since then (and after reading the almost over-the-top review in the New York Times), I’ve wanted to read this.
We never actually received a copy of To the End of the Land, but I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome . . . On a side-note, I had a sit-com like experience with David Grossman at the last Frankfurt Book Fair. When I was waiting to meet people for dinner, I crashed the fancy Hanser party, right during the time when Michael Kruger was introducing all the famous guests who were in the audience. I was circling around the back, trying to make myself invisible, when suddenly Kruger pointed right at me and said, “and we even have the recipient of the German Book Trade Peace Prize in the audience!” Everyone—truly everyone—turned to stare right through my guilty-looking self and applaud David Grossman, who was quite literally, right behind me . . . Anyway, hopefully Knopf will send us a review copy at some point . . .
And in terms of award announcements, we might have more about the NBCC awards later, but on Thursday, we’ll be announcing the 25-title fiction longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award. Stay tuned!
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .