Weekly News Roundup, 11th November 2013: Camus, Tagore, and more

A look at some of the most important literary news of the past week

Albert Camus continues to prompt discussion, even in his 100th year. The literary Internet commemorated the passing of Camus’ centenary this week: in The New York Review of Books, Susan Sontag suggests that a literary Camus is “the ideal husband of contemporary letters,” the Irish Times examines the world as Camus saw it,  and The New Republic re-releases a review from 1948 in which reviewer Nicola Charomonte posits that Albert Camus’ thinks that life is meaningless. But in Camus’ native Algeria and France? Seems as if the anniversary has passed without much hullabaloo. Tant pis.

Speaking of notable centenaries, it’s been 100 years since writer Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was honored with India’s first Nobel Prize, and the Swedish embassy is celebrating: in Delhi, the 7th annual Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week  on November 8-16. Tagore’s work is very popular in Bangla, but Bangla itself is often disregarded in translation: in an interview, the language’s eminent contemporary author Hasan Azizul Haque asserts that without translation, promotion of Bengali literature is virtually impossible.


In Qatar, disheartening news for poet Mohammed Al-Ajami, who has spent two years in solitary confinement for having recited a poem in support of the Arab Spring. After an appeal a few weeks ago, his initial life-sentence has been shortened, but the result is not much of an improvement. For his poem, which went viral on YouTube, Al-Ajami will receive fifteen additional years of imprisonment.


Two certainties come with every end-of-the-year: literary best-of lists and awards. We’re happy to oblige both. The folks at Typographical Era counter GoodReads’ Choice Awards by offering a category GoodReads failed to provide: best translated book. The ballots are out for the 2013 Typographical Translation Award—keep an eye out for Asymptote alums on the list! The shortlist for another translation-focused prize, the 2013 Corneliu M Popescu Poetry Prize (showcasing European poetry in English translation), has been announced as well. And Three Percent has compiled its favorite books this November (though by the looks of it, some of those titles could be contenders in any annual roundup).


It’s an exciting world for literary newcomers. Be sure to take a look at Pushkin Children’s Books, a brand-spankin’-new press for internationally-slanted children’s literature. The unique Save the Story series highlights highfalutin literary classics, retold by some big-name contemporary writers (like Umberto Eco, Dave Eggers, and Jonathan Coe).  A kid-sized version of Antigone, Gulliver’s Travels, Crime and Punishment, and more? Might be just the stocking stuffer for our literary (read: nerdy) offspring… Also, this week MobyLives features a new online journal dedicated to translation, dedicated to an oft-forgotten region in la Francophonie: Québec. Welcome to the tiny family of online-translation-journals, ambos magazine!


Finally, in case you are only monolingual, be comforted in the fact that one word means the same thing the world around: HUH??!?