Happy Friday, Asymptote! Do you have Thanksgiving reading? Distract from your family with novels from Korea—here are five Korean-language tomes (in translation) you should read now. Or you could use Jamaican novelist Marlon James’ recent Man Booker win as an opportunity to uncover more about today’s Caribbean writing. Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich isn’t widely available in English—yet: three more of her nonfiction works will soon be published through Random House. And if you haven’t by now, you’ve no excuse anymore: check out new Azerbaijani literature through a new, super-easy online portal.
Though translators are quick to cite St. Jerome as their historical precedent, when it comes to Modern Poetry in Translation (and its attendant aesthetic revolution), we’ve got regular English poets Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort to thank. And this year’s Miami Book Festival will feature Cuban translator, journalist, and author-you-should-know-about Achy Obejas (though according to her, she’s not much more than a “peddler of words”).
fBig literary winners this week: the American National Book Awards were announced, with fiction honors for Adam Johnson, nonfiction for Ta-Nahisi Coates, and the poetry prize going to Robin Coste Lewis. The well-intentioned French Prix du Meilleur Live Etranger goes to British writer Martin Amis and Austrian author Christoph Ransmayr. And the Taiwan Literature Award goes to a name we’re all familiar with over at Asymptote (if you dig through our archives, heh heh): The Man With the Compound Eyes author Wu Ming-yi. But if we’re going to be honest: the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award is the only prestigious literary feather worth aiming for, and Erica Jong, Lauren Groff, and Morrissey are all head-to-head this year.
If there ever were a better time to turn to literature, it would be in tragedy—in light of the attacks in Paris, one writer turns to French René Char (also a WWII resistance fighter and poet) for solace and insight. But Judith Butler’s recent words on grief in the Paris attacks might prove prescient, too.