Weekly News Roundup, 10th April 2015: BTBA vs. VIDA vs. IFFP?

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday! The time has finally arrived for the Best Translated Book Award longlist… After weeks of blog- and social-media hype, both the fiction and poetry longlists have been announced, and we can’t say we aren’t impressed! The lineup includes, among others, several Asymptote friends, like Faces in the Crowd author and blog contributor, Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli, blog interviewee and Translation Tuesday featurette Danish author Naja Marie Aidt, deceased Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal (featured in another Translation Tuesday dedication), Chinese interviewee and Nobel-deserving Can Xue, and many, many more. It’s definitely worth taking a peek through the list—I’ve no idea how the judges managed to narrow it down (at Three Percent, Chad Post laments the books he thought would make it—but didn’t), nor how they’ll be able to pick a winner from such a strong group. 

Launch time. LiteraryHub, the website/collective idea we announced a few weeks ago, has finally gone live. It’s been dubbed a “new hub for lit lovers”—hopefully intended to streamline the litany of lit-blogs you’re following (including, of course, this one). And the latest issue of Granta is out; it’s the magazine’s second issue to focus on India. In case you missed it, the New Yorker recently featured the subcontinent’s “forgotten feminist epic,” This is Not That Dawn. And have you heard about Buzzfeed’s literary moment? They’ve hired a new literary editor, poet and writer Saeed Jones, and are bankrolling an $12,000 literary fellowship (apply!).

In France, the Charlie Hebdo attacks left a populace frightened and searching for meaning—and you can see it in the country’s book stats, as sales are increasing in books about Islam. Meanwhile, at Artforum, Mazen Kerbaj attempts to make sense of the attacks, weeks later. Wonder what Jacques Derrida would have made of the tragedy and its aftermath? Princeton University has just acquired his library—so dedicated researchers may speculate opinions of their own. Speaking of university life: in Italy, until 1999, all college students were required to write longform theses in order to complete their studies, which explains why novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco wrote a book explaining how: How to Write a Thesis. Here’s why that book is useful for the rest of us, too. 

Speaking of speculation, the 2015 VIDA count has been released—this year’s analysis includes publication statistics for women of color, too—and the results are (predictably) shabby. Step it up, American journals! Across the pond, the British equivalent of the BTBA (—see above!) has announced its shortlist: take a gander at the five titles still in the running for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (alas, no poetry; just fiction).