Posts filed under 'awards'

Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

No matter where you are, we've got you covered.

Since 2013 we’ve been bringing you the latest news in the literary world, and we’re not about to stop anytime soon! This week our Executive Assistant, Cassie Lawrence, showcases the latest exciting books being published and prizes being awarded in the UK; our new Editor-at-Large from Brazil, Lara Norgaard, focuses on racial and gender diversity in festivals across the country, as well as newly published work that had been previously lost; finally, our Editor-at-Large for Taiwan, Vivian Szu-Chin Chih, fills us in on the latest prizes as well as film festivals happening right now! 

Cassie Lawrence, Executive Assistant at Asymptote, reports from the UK: 

An unpublished manuscript from the late author Maurice Sendak (known for Where the Wild Things Are) has been discovered. The manuscript is complete with illustrations and is said to date from twenty years ago, according to Publishers Weekly. A publisher for the new title has not yet been announced.

June 20-23 saw twenty British writers and over fifty literature professionals from around the world gather in Norwich as part of the International Literature Showcase. An online platform that allows the showcasing and collaboration of international literature organisations, the live event included panel discussions and readings from Elif Shafak, Graeme Macrae Burnet, David Szalay, and more.


Good news for libraries finally! Following the cuts that have taken place across the country in recent years, The Bookseller brings news that 14 libraries across Lancashire are set to reopen later this year and early next year. These will be partly run by community groups, but with the majority still being run by the council.

Amy Liptrot’s memoir The Outrun (Canongate) has been awarded the PEN Ackerley Prize 2017 . The book was up against All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead (4th Estate) and This Is the Place to Be by Lara Pawson (CB Editions). Liptrot also took home the Wainwright Prize in 2016 for the “best writing on the outdoors, nature and UK-based travel writing.”

Zed Books are to release the first anthology of Russian contemporary art writing to be published outside of Russia. The book, entitled Cosmic Shift: Russian Contemporary Art Writing, will be published on the October 5, with contributors including artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, e-flux founder Anton Vidokle, critic and theorist Boris Groys and avant-garde artist and writer Dmitri Prigov.

Lara Norgaard, Editor-at-Large, covers the latest in Brazil: 

The much-awaited 15th annual Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty (Flip) will take place in Paraty, RJ from July 26-30, gathering authors to discuss topics ranging from theater and film to politics and science.

Women now constitute over half of the forty-six invited authors. Black authors, though still underrepresented, now make up 30 percent. This year’s honored author is Lima Barreto, a black writer from Rio de Janeiro whose work 100 years ago engaged social critique on topics of race and class.

Writers invited to participate include Jamaican 2015 Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James, Angolan rapper and activist Luaty Beirão, and Brazilian poet and translator Josely Vianna Baptista. New this year, each discussion will open with a performance art series, “Fruto estranho”. The research organization Intelectuais Negras UFRJ will release a catalogue/portfolio hybrid at the conference entitled Intelectuais Negras, containing information on contemporary black women writers in Brazil.

Despite Flip’s progress on inclusion, more can be done. On the horizon: the first-ever national conference for women writers in Brazil, Mulherio das Letras (October 10-15 in João Pessoa, PB), brings together a diverse group of over 400 women writers to discuss writing in the male-dominated Brazilian literary world. The events are being organized collectively and without hierarchy. For information or to get involved, message the group’s Facebook page.

A black female author will also be commemorated in São Paulo this month. On July 10-14 journalists and writers will meet for the Ciclo Carolina Maria de Jesus and host discussions about author Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977), a black woman from Minas Gerais who lived in Sao Paulo’s Candidé favela. In 1960 she published a collection of her journals, Quarto de Despejo – Diário de uma Favelada, which explores the everyday of the favela. The journal has been translated in forty-two countries.

In publishing news, June yielded the posthumous release of two famous Brazilian writers’ works. On June 22 researcher Milena Wanderly found a poem by Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) in an archived issue of the magazine Tentativa, published when the poet was 19 years old.

Two years ago, a professor at the Federal University of São Carlos, Dr. Wilton Marques, made a similar discovery when he found eight stories written by young José de Alencar in the Correio Mercantil newspaper from 1854 and 1855. On June 27, the Editora da Universidade Federal de São Carlos published this collection, with a critical introduction by Marques.

Vivian Szu-Chin Chih, Editor-at-Large, reporting from Taiwan:

The Taiwanese literary translator and English literature professor at National Taiwan University, Ping-Ta Ku, received the second English Presents award granted by English PEN at the end of June, with his English translation of the well-respected contemporary Taiwanese fiction writer, Yijun Luo’s novel published by INK in 2008, Tangut Inn (Xi Xia Lu Guan).

Luo’s Tangut Inn depicts the condition of Taiwan’s society by comparing it to the Xi Xia Empire (Tangut Empire) that existed through the 11th century in northwestern China and some parts of Inner and Outer Mongolia. By drawing an analogy between an Empire conquered by an unidentified political force (some historians attribute it to the Mongolians led by Genghis Khan) and Taiwan in the 20th century, the novel transcends the past and present, contrasting the protagonist’s psychological world and the realities in the society. The translator employs Renaissance English to cross the barrier posed by the author, who composed in complex traditional Chinese.

Shifting our focus from the literary scene to films, the 19th Taipei Film Festival is currently happening in several major movie theaters in the capital, introducing most up-to-date film works from local and pan-Asian areas, including northeastern and southeastern Asian countries. One noteworthy program of the film festival this year showcased the Taiwanese film music composer, Lim Giong, who was the winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award for his work in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “The Assassin” in 2015. The Taipei Film Festival invited Lim to cooperate with a few new directors and rank the seven selected films directed by these directors. The audience was enabled to enjoy the luxury of peeking into Lim’s composing process at Zhongshan Hall, with all the required equipment for sound composing set up by the festival crew.

From this week until the end of July, Taipei will be remembering one of the greatest Taiwanese directors from the “New Wave Cinema” in the 1980s, Edward Yang, who passed away a decade ago. With three of his digitally restored films screened, “That Day, on the Beach,” “Taipei Story,” and “Yi Yi: a One and a Two,” once again, the audience will be reviewing the director’s legendary life and re-understanding the city through the beloved director’s eyes and camera.


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Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

This week's literary news from the Nordic countries, the UK and Israel.

The week is nearly over, which not only means it’s the weekend but also that it’s time for our literary catch-up! For this edition, Blog Editor Hanna Heiskanen shares updates on the upcoming awards season, among other news from Scandinavia. Editor-at-Large Julia Sherwood then reports on literary happenings from the UK. Rounding it all up is our correspondent for Israel, Alma Beck, currently residing in New Orleans, where she teaches philosophy for children.

Obligatory reminder: After you’ve caught up with all the news, head over to our just-launched Fall 2016 issue here!

First up, Blog Editor Hanna Heiskanen has the latest from the Nordic countries:

Lars Huldén, the Swedish-speaking Finn poet, has passed away at the age of 90. Born in Pietarsaari, Finland, Huldén was a much loved and highly regarded writer, scholar, translator, and recipient of the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize in 2000. He grew up among a tradition of oral storytelling in the local Swedish dialect and worked tirelessly throughout his adult life, publishing a large collection of poetry, prose, plays, and sonnets, among other works. He also produced Swedish translations of Finnish and English classics, such as the Finns’ national epic, Kalevala, and Shakespearean texts.

Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI) is accepting applications for grants until November 1. If you are a publisher, translator, author, or event organizer interested in working with Finnish literature, FILI has a handy guide on their site to guide you through the options. FILI, founded in 1977, hands out approximately 700,000€ worth of grants annually, in addition to hosting translator residencies and maintaining a database of translations of Finnish literature.


Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

This week's literary news from Egypt, Bangladesh, the ALTA conference and on the recent Nobel Prize list.

Welcome to this edition of Asymptote’s weekly update, a hop, step, and jump tour de force bringing you the latest from three continents of literature in translation. To kick off, our Egyptian Editor-at-Large Omar El Adi sends us his bulletin, including news on literary prizes and an upcoming event in London. We then zoom in on Bangladesh, where Editor-at-Large for India Naheed Patel reports on recent festivals and the passing of Bangla authors. Also, US-based Assistant Editor Julia Leverone visited the ALTA conference so you didn’t have to. And finally Assistant Managing Editor Janani Ganesan gives us the round-up from the literary world on the Nobel Prize in Literature being awarded to Bob Dylan. 

Editor-at Large Omar El Adi has the latest literary news from Egypt:

The inaugural annual lecture of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation will be given by Palestinian author Anton Shammas at the British Library in London on 14 October. The jury for this year’s prize includes last year’s winning translator Paul Starkey, professor of Arabic Zahia Smail Salhi, writer and journalist Lucy Popescu, and literary consultant and publisher Bill Swainson. Paul Starkey’s 2015 win came for his translation of Youssef Rakha’s The Book of the Sultan’s Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars (2014). An excerpt of Rakha’s third book Paulo (forthcoming in English) was featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Asymptote. The winner of the prize will be announced this December.

In Alexandria, Tara Al-Bahr, an interactive online platform, is launching its second print edition with original essays as well as translations into Arabic on the topics of cultural and artistic practices and urban change in contemporary Alexandria. Tara Al-Bahr launched in May this year, and its second printed edition came out on Thursday, 6 October.

The Facebook group Alexandria Scholars is commencing a series of talks, titled “The City Dialogue Series”, with the support of the Swedish Institute in Alexandria, and curated by the sociologist Amro Ali. The first lecture, “Alexandria and the search for meaning”, was on 10 October and explored solutions to the city’s problems “through the terrain of historical, urban, and philosophical analysis”. Future events involving writers, academics, political figures, and researchers have already been planned for November and December.

In publishing news, Mohamed Rabie’s Otared (2016) was released in English translation in September by AUC Press. The novel was shortlisted for the International Prize in Arabic Fiction in 2016 and is set in a dystopian post-revolutionary Egypt. An excerpt is available here.

Halal If You Hear Me, a forthcoming anthology of writings by Muslims who are queer, women, gender nonconforming or transgender, is calling for submissions. Editors Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo are looking for submissions of up to five poems or two essays, including a cover letter with contact info and a short bio. Those interested should email before 1 December, 2016.

Editor-at-Large for India Naheed Patel shares some stories from the neighbouring Bangladesh:

Next month sees Bangladesh’s capital revving up for the annual Dhaka Literary Festival, which runs from November 17-19.  The festival has been held at the historic Bangla Academy since 2012, and is directed and produced by Sadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar, and K. Anis Ahmed. In the face of numerous recent Freedom of Expression violations in Bangladesh, the festival marks a resurgence of Bangladeshi literary culture, reaching across a number of different disciplines and genres: from fiction and literary non-fiction to history, politics and society; from poetry and translations to science, mathematics, philosophy and religion. The festival has more than 20,000 attendees and past contributors include Vikram Seth, Tariq Ali, Rosie Boycott, William Dalrymple, Ahdaf Soueif, Shashi Tharoor, Jung Chang, and Pankaj Mishra as well famous writers of Bangla literature like Hasan Azizul Huq, Selina Hossain, Debesh Roy, and Nirmalendu Goon.

In August and September Bangladesh mourned the passing of two prominent Bangla poets. Author, poet, and playwright Syed Shamsul Haq died at the age of 81 in Dhaka on September 27, 2016, and renowned Bangladeshi poet Shaheed Quaderi passed away in New York at the age of 74 on August 28, 2016. Haq was given the Bangla Academy Award in 1966 and the Ekushey Padak, the highest national award of Bangladesh, in 1984. He was also honored with a Swadhinata Padak in 2000 for his contribution to Bangla Literature. Payer Awaj Paoa Jay’ [We Hear the Footsteps] and Nuruldiner Sara Jibon [The Entire Life of Nuruldin], his most popular plays, are considered to be cornerstones of Bangladeshi theatre. Shaheed Quaderi received the Ekushey Padak in the category of Language and Literature in 2011 and was previously awarded the Bangla Academy Award in 1973. Prominent Bengali scholars such as Kabir Chowdhury, Kaiser Haq, and Farida Majid have translated his poems into English.


Weekly News Roundup, 13 November 2015: The Most Knausgaardy

This week's literary news from around the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote! If you need a pick-me-up this week, here’s a friendly reminder of why translation’s so important: translating books often means saving them (essay comes to us thanks to LitHub, by former contributor André Naffis-Sahely). After all, without translation (and translators), we could never read this New York Times book review: literary phenomenon and badboy Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard writes the most Knausgaard-y book review on  French writer Michel Houellebecq’s latest-into-English, Submission. 


Weekly News Roundup, 7th August 2015: Nah Nah Nah NEA!

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Weekly News Roundup, 31st July 2015: Book the Booker & Submit to Our Emerging Translators Contest

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Weekly News Roundup, 5th June 2015: Don’t Write Your Memoir.

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happiest of Fridays, Asymptote pals! This is the first week Katrine, new blog co-editor, is on board—so let’s give her a big web-round-of-applause (tapping on the keyboard in the comments section helps). Hi Katrine! You might recognize Katrine because she was a judge for the Best Translated Book Award so, yeah—she’s a celeb.

Speaking of celebs, our former Central Asia Editor-at-Large, Alex Cigale, recently guest-edited a section on Russian poetry over at the Atlanta Review—it’s definitely worth checking out (and look for a blog interview on the guest-editing process soon). If you are a fan of the Norwegian Nobel Prizewinning bard, Tomas Transtömer, here’s a treat—his final interview given before his death, in translation. And, speaking of poetry—the New Yorker has an interesting piece on Jihadi poetry and what it means to share some words.

Multitasking artists: American playwright Tennessee Williams took up painting, once (just like American ex-President Dubya, whose outsider-art paintings I frankly prefer). And Dany Lafferière, a Haitian novelist who came of age in Canada, is the first non-French citizen to be admitted in the prestigious Académie Française.

What are your favorite authors’ favorite words? Here’s a little list. And what’s your favorite curse word—it might not have existed too long ago (except, of course, for “fart,” which has stood the test of time).

How does it feel to write and never be read? Most of us know, all too bitterly. But perennial Nobel-speculation and speculative-fiction writer, Canadian novelist/poet Margaret Atwood, has written for a library that won’t be available for another one hundred years. Will we all be screened-up e-readers by then? The Chicago Tribune thinks not. Nine hundred years later, we’re still collectively obsessed with the old Icelandic god, Loki, though. What gives?

Finally, please, and for the love of God—unless you are Karl Ove (in which case it is already too late): delete your memoir. If it’s written from a female perspective, it’s less likely to win any big prizes, anyway (ugh), unless, of course, it is the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (congrats Ali Smith for How to Be Both, this year’s prizewinner). Prizes aren’t always great, though: even judge Marina Warner (from the Man Booker!) is bemoaning the dearth of world literature available in English—good thing journals like Asymptote are working to buck that trend.

Weekly News Roundup, 15th Mary 2015: PEN or Sword, Too Many Prizes

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote friends! Another day, another dollar, another slew of literary prizes to report. This week, the PEN prizes were of special interest: Two Lines Press’ translation of Baboon, written by Danish author Naja Marie Aidt with translation by Denise Neuman has snagged the PEN Translation Prize (for a short-story excerpt from Baboon, click here!—or better yet: read Eric MIchael Becker’s exclusive interview with the author here). Meanwhile, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize (for translations of German-into-English) is slated to go to Catherine Schelbert, for her translation of Hugo Ball’s Flametti. And the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize has announced its shortlist, which includes our own friend of the blog (and Tiff-ster) Susan Bernofsky, for her translation of German writer Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days (coincidentally reviewed here in our latest issue). READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 1 May 2015: PEN or Sword?

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy first of May, Asymptote readers! On this first of May, readers and observers are reeling at a bit of a scuffle around awards (this happens more rarely than you’d think): a few authors, among them Michael Ondaatje, Rachel Kushner, Salman Rushdie, and Joyce Carol Oates have formally withdrawn from a gala event honoring the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo with its Freedom of Expression award, citing discomfort with the periodical’s inflammatory depictions. If you’re interested in an insider look at the controversy, here’s the letter between the PEN exec and a dissident. Meanwhile, French cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo says he’s withdrawing from depictions of Mohammed altogether, for reasons you may not anticipate. And altogether less contentious is the PEN Manheim award for translation, given to Chinese and Japanese scholar/translator Burton Watson.


Weekly News Roundup, 17th April 2015: International Excellence!

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote friends! We’ve announced it on the blog already, but still can’t stop celebrating at Asymptote having won the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Award for International Literary Translation Achievement. After Indiegogo campaigns, calls for submissions, and projects spanning the entire globe in words, it feels good to be honored.

The prize—and big-time book event in London—couldn’t come at a better time, especially with the slightly disheartening release of translation statistics in the United Kingdom via Literature Across Frontiers. And at the NYBlog, Tim Parks asks if there simply is too much published fiction nowadays—one thing is certain: there isn’t enough translated literature in the English-speaking biblioglobe (not in the slightest!). And if we’re going to data-analyze the literary scene, why not the literature itself? Here’s how computer-driven literary analysis is changing (and how it’s still limited). READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 20th March 2015: London Nominees, PEN Nominees!

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Yay, it’s Friday! Here at Asymptote we are especially giddy this weekend because of a gosh-wow shortlist nomination from the London Book Fair—alongside two other notable organizations, Asymptote journal is nominated for an International Excellence Award, for Initiative in International Translation. Keep your fingers crossed for us!—but really, it is such an honor to be recognized for the hard literary work we do. And the PEN Awards longlists have been announced—of special interest to us, of course, are the poetry in translation and fiction in translation categories (we’re happy to note that Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt, blog interviewee, has been nominated—read a selection of Baboon, featured on Translation Tuesday, here)!


Weekly News Roundup, 6 February 2015: Dear Diary, What Are You Comprised Of?

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, translation friends and fiends! Do you keep a diary? Literary journaling is a genre of its own—arguably the juiciest way to find the real-life parallels in our favorite novels—and Russian behemoth Leo Tolstoy’s work is no exception, though his struggles to narrate the self are arguably more insightful than my teenaged angst. Maybe perennial Nobel-favorite and Japanese author Haruki Murakami might like my tween journals a bit more, as he’s penning an advice column (available in English translation!).


Weekly News Roundup, 28th November 2014: Happy Thanksgiving, Shakespeare in France

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to our American readers—and to all non-Americans, happy Friday! Anglophones certainly have something to be thankful for: one of William Shakespeare’s treasured First Folios has been uncovered, practically untouched, in a small chapel in France, where it is reported to have lain for over two hundred years. And any literature lover or archivist from the University of Texas might be feeling extra-thankful this week, as the complete archive of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin. And at the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Maloney opines that the proliferation of paperback books helped win World War II for the Americans. 

This week in book buzz: British/Indian author Arundhati Roy is following up her 1997-Booker Prizewinning God of Small Things, at long last, after a period dedicated to political activism. Here’s a profile. You can look forward to more than that, what with an upcoming translation of German counterculture icon Jörg Fauser’s novel, Raw Material. Irish phenomenon and inspiration to all pining novelists Eimear McBride has snagged another award for A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which has already won the Goldsmiths and the Bailey’s Prizes, among others. The biggest international book prize, the IMPAC Dublin award, has announced its glorious longlist, and you might recognize a few titles (the list includes a title translated by Alex Zucker, blog contributor!). If you’re a skeptic to the prospect of awards in general, you might enjoy this look back at the National Book Awards, proving that even the most venerated intellectual institutions are subject to whim and fashion. 

French existentialists, philosophers, and novelists Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre didn’t end on the best of terms, but a forgotten letter from better times has reemerged. Same goes for American beats Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady: a letter from Cassady to Kerouac inspiring Jack’s iconic On the Road is set to be auctioned off. 

Every get a 2-AM book craving? (We know you do). In Taiwan, the 24-hour bookstore is a welcome respite for weary clubbers and bookworms alike.

Weekly News Roundup, 17th October 2014: It’s All Dutch to Me

This week's literary highlights from across the world

The biggest news this week is Asymptote’s hot new issue launch. We know time is limited, but it’s worth taking a peak at our (best yet?) video trailer or the blog’s own highlights feature for tips on where to start (and stay tuned for even more issue coverage in the coming weeks). Really, you can’t go wrong with such a wealth of literary gems at your virtual fingertips.

Last week, the literary world was abuzz with news of its latest Nobel laureate—French writer Patrick Modiano. Perhaps “abuzz” is too misleading a term, since many English-language readers were mostly clueless as to his existence, which begs the question: what does it take for an author to be (respectably and thoroughly) translated into an English? (An aside: here’s a great primer to Modiano via Slate and pure chance). Speaking of prizes, the Man Booker’s decision to include American Anglophones in its entry pool caused quite a stir for those not of the United States, but didn’t stop Australian author Richard Flanagan from snagging the prize. Still, there are naysayers, including twice-winner and Australian author Peter Carey, who thinks the inclusion undermines the particular “Commonwealth culture” of all Anglophones outside the fifty states. Some prizes are still United States-exclusive, though, like the National Book Awards, which just released its nominations—here’s a handy guide to the nominees, via NPR. Or we could switch continents and take a look at the just-released shortlist to the “Russian” Booker.