At some point while I’m housebound thanks to the Colossal Snowpocalypse of the Century tm I’ll finish tweaking the write-up of the speech I gave in Amsterdam at the Nonfiction Conference, post part of that and write up some stuff about how fantastic this conference was. (If you look at the list of speakers you’ll immediately see why it was so interesting.)
Anyway, one of the random cool things that happened: At the coffee break on Saturday, moderator Maarten Asscher tole me about the “European Literature Prize,” a brand new award honoring the best Dutch translations of European literary novels—a prize modeled after the Best Translated Book Awards and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It’s so, so cool that the IFFP spawned the BTBA, which led to the ELP . . .
This past Sunday they met to decide the twenty book longlist, which is printed below, along with their press release. (There are a few books here I’m really interested in—especially the Robles. And David Mitchell is one of my favorites . . .):
The longlist for the European Literature Prize was announced today. Thirteen independent Dutch and Flemish bookshops have selected the twenty best titles from among the European literary novels published in Dutch translation in 2010. The prize will be presented in early September during Manuscripta, the opening of the new Dutch book season.
The following twenty titles have been nominated (in alphabetical order by author):
The European Literature Prize will be awarded in 2011 for the first time, recognizing the best novel translated into Dutch from another European language and published in 2010. The winning author will receive the sum of €10,000. The prize is unusual in that it is also awarded to the translator of the chosen book; he or she will receive €2,500.
The professional jury is as follows:
Frans Timmermans, member of the House of Representatives, former Secretary of State for European Affairs (chairman)
Marja Pruis, writer and literary critic for De Groene Amsterdammer
Guido Snel, university lecturer University of Amsterdam, department of European Studies, writer and literary translator
Herm Pol, Athenaeum booksellers Amsterdam
Edith Aerts, bookstore De Groene Waterman, Antwerp
The jury will announce the shortlist at the end of April 2011. The European Literature Prize is an initiative of the Academic-Cultural Centre SPUI25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer and Athenaeum Booksellers. The prize is sponsored in part by the following independent bookshops, which have also participated in the selection process:
Athenaeum Boekhandel, Amsterdam
Boekhandel de Groene Waterman, Antwerpen
Boekhandel De Omslag, Delft
Boekhandel H. de Vries, Haarlem
Boekhandel Het Martyrium, Amsterdam
Boekhandel Krings, Sittard
Literaire Boekhandel Lijnmarkt, Utrecht
Boekhandel Paagman, Den Haag
Boekhandel van Gennep, Rotterdam
Boekhandel Verkaaik, Gouda
Eerste Bergensche Boekhandel, Bergen N-H
Linnaeus Boekhandel, Amsterdam
Boekhandel Van Rossum, Amsterdam
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
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. . .