Monthly Archives: October 2011
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This year’s P.O. Enquist Award has been given to Icelandic author Jón Kalman Stefánsson, whose novel Heaven and Hell we recently published in paperback. The Enquist Award honours a writer who has begun to make his or her international breakthrough, and was inaugurated in 2005 on Enquist’s seventieth birthday. P.O. Enquist is a Danish author whose own made international zenith came with The Visit of the Royal Physician, which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2003 (with translator Tina Nunnally) as well as France’s Prix Femina Etranger and Sweden’s August Prize.
The French edition of Heaven and Hell has also been shortlisted for this year’s Prix Femina Etranger, and the second volume of the trilogy, The Sorrow of Angels, has been published in Icelandic and German. We will be publishing in 2013. Enquist’s autobiography, The Rise and Fall and Resurrection of a Strange Man in Europe, will also be published by MacLehose Press in 2013 and one MacLehose designer is already losing sleep over fitting the title on to the spine.
Click here to read an interview with Jón Kalman Stefánsson from late last year.
This may seem like last week’s news, and it is, but it has just been brought home to us how important radio of coverage can be for translated literary fiction. In the days since Michael Morpurgo and Sarah Maitland reviewed Alberto Barrera Tyszka’s slim but resonant masterpiece, The Sickness, on Radio Four 435 copies have left the warehouse. To put that in perspective, 13 left the warehouse last month.
Listen to the programme
It was a similar story when three stories from Cees Nooteboom’s The Foxes Come At Night were read on Radio Four during the summer. There was an instant boost in sales for a book that, for all the many splendid reviews it went on to receive, had not been ordered by many shops before publication.
To return to The Sickness, it is no surprise that Radio Four’s listeners rushed out or online to buy a copy as soon as the programme had finished. Morpurgo, who thought it was “a great book”, “I wanted to turn the page unbelievably fast”. “This is a page turner,” he concluded. Sarah Maitland said: “I just love it, I think its utterly gripping from beginning to end.”
The BBC’s showcasing of these books is a triumph of good taste. Both have received wonderful notices across the board, from newspapers and from online bloggers; The Sickness was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (Nooteboom has only just been submitted).
For us it’s valuable reminder of how important the BBC is in promoting literature, both in translation and otherwise, and how well it succeeds in spreading the word about unusual cultural artifacts and events. Long live Auntie, and all who sail in her!
Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah, and Beauty and the Inferno, has been awarded the third annual PEN/Pinter Prize, to be shared with Sir David Hare. The award is shared each year by a British writer and a writer from abroad who has been persecuted for sharing their words.
At the award ceremony at the British Library on Monday night, which Saviano was unable to attend due to security concerns, Sir David said that his hope in sharing the prize with the Italian was that “that a measure of recognition from PEN may, in however small a way, make his life easier.” And in the conclusion of his speech, Unflinching, Unswerving, he paid further tribute to Saviano’s courage:
Those of you who have read his novel of five years ago, Gomorrah, or seen the film made from it, may know something of the character of a man willing to expose and thereby stand up to the Neapolitan Mafia. But you may not know the price he has paid – never, for instance, to be able to sleep in the same bed for more than two nights running. Of Saviano, as much as of any contemporary writer, we may ask the question, ‘Would it matter if he had not lived?’ in the certainty of receiving the emphatic answer: ‘Yes.’
I have called this short talk Unflinching, Unswerving since those are the words chose by the judges to describe the gaze of the winner. But Saviano’s own explanation of why his enemies care enough to put a lone writer under a death sentence is instructive. By combining imagination with reporting, he says, ‘Literature speaks directly to the reader. It invades his space.’ As someone whose writing life has been a far less dangerous attempt to effect that same combination, I identify strongly, as I do with Saviano’s determination, in his words again, to ‘allow no polemics, sentimentality or simplifications.’
The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy has been shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Award. The Hindu is an Indian newspaper, probably the Indian equivalent of the Guardian, and the award is given to the best work of fiction in English or translated into English from any India language.
Roy is joined on the shortlist by: Bharathipura, translated work of U.R. Ananthamurthy, translated by Sushila Punitha; The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya; The Fakir, translated work of Sunil Gangopadhyay, translated by Monabi Mitra; River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh; Litanies of Dutch Battery, translated work of N. S. Madhavan, translated by Rajesh Raja Mohan; and The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya.
There was an interview with Roy last week in the Deccan Chronicle in which she spoke about the challenges of balancing her career as a writer with her work as a publisher. Roy co-founded the academic imprint Permanent Black in 2000, and it has since established itself as India’s leading specialist publishers.
Read the full article