Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

Hot off the press—your handy guide to all the literary happenings in the UK, Spain, Argentina, and Peru!

We’re in the second half of the year and summer—or winter, depending on where you are located—is full of literary activities. From the announcement of the Man Booker Prize longlist and the release of a new book by a beloved Spanish poet to Argentinian bookselling events, Asymptote editors are telling it all!

Executive Assistant Cassie Lawrence reporting from the UK:

Two days ago, the Man Booker Prize longlist was released, comprising a list of literary heavyweights and two debut novelists. The most hyped title, perhaps—and the most expected one—is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy’s first work of fiction in two decadesChosen from 144 submissions, the longlist has 13 titles, often referred to as the “Man Booker Dozen.” Other authors on the longlist include Zadie Smith, Mohsin Hamid, Ali Smith and Colson Whitehead.

On Monday, July 17, the London Book Fair (LBF) recorded a webcast on “Creativity, Crafts and Careers in Literary Translation.” Three panelists—translator Frank Wynne, agent Rebecca Carter and consultant and editor Bill Swainson—joined acclaimed journalist, Rosie Goldsmith to speak on the opportunities and challenges in getting world literature translated. The webcast followed from a successful programme at LBF’s Literary Translation Centre last spring, and was funded by Arts Council England.

In other news, two-times Booker-winning publisher One World have paid a six-figure sum for a YA trilogy from US actor Jason Segel, reports The Bookseller. The first title, Otherworld, is due to be released on October 31 this year, and will center on a virtual reality game with dark consequences. Segal, known for his roles in films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man has written the trilogy with his writing partner, Kirsten Miller.

Finally, the shortlist for the Gordon Burn Prize was announced on July 21. Run as a partnership between the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Durham Book Festival, and Faber & Faber, the winning writer receives a check for £5,000 and is offered the opportunity to undertake a writing retreat at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. The shortlist this year is made up of two debuts—four works of fiction and two of non-fiction—with a third of the list published by two small presses. The winner will be announced at Durham Book Festival on October 12.

In Spain, Podcast Editor Layla Benitez-James brings us sizzling news of sultry summer days:

The hot tail end of June offered up reason for congratulations as Cartagena native José Alcaraz (1983) won the Premio de Poesía Antonio Gala, a prize in the Malaga region of Alhaurín el Grande. Vino para los náufragos is Alcaraz’s winning collection of poems, which did not have a direct journey to the winner’s circle as it came after the selection committee had to revoke their previous choice due to a breach in the rules. The jury was unanimous in putting forth the “magnificent collection of excellent quality” as the final winner and the prize carries with it EUR 6,000.

Lovers of poetry looking for something fresh can pick up Comiendo de una granada (Bartleby editores) by the much-loved Madrid poet, Esther Muntañola. A highly anticipated release after her enchanting second book in 2013, Muntañola weaves intimate poems with those that dip back into history in this book.

Spanish writers and publishers Luisgé Martín, Marta Sanz, Miguel Ángel Hernández, Olga Martínez, and Francisco Robles travelled halfway across the globe to participate in the Guayaquil International Poetry Festival, “Ileana Espinel Cedeño,” in Ecuador. Now in its tenth edition, the festival hosted 70 poets and many other writers and publishers from around the world in an effort to broaden the connections between creative minds across nations. The cohort from Spain was a part of presentations and panels, both about the state of contemporary literature in Spain and the lives of books in the digital age.

Last but never the least, Sarah Moses, Editor-at-Large, has news of school holidays and literary events from Argentina and Peru:

School holidays fall at the end of July in Argentina, and the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA) had parents covered with a series of literary events for youngsters. The museum hosted two afternoons of kamishibai, a Japanese form of storytelling that involves a small wooden “theatre” in which illustrated boards are placed. Children had the opportunity to watch and listen to stories by authors from across the globe.

The end of July also saw the winter editions of two Buenos Aires bookselling events that are held several times throughout they year. On July 22, La Sensación, which brings together numerous independent and small presses including Blatt & Ríos and Socios Fundadores, took place at La Internacional Argentina bookstore in the neighbourhood of Villa Crespo. The following day, across the city in San Telmo, La Cofradía de libreros de viejo—San Telmo, a collective of used and rare booksellers, got together for an afternoon of books and music. The event included a live tango performance by the Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierra. On July 28, Brandon, a concert and event space also located in Villa Crespo, hosted Caracter, which featured four writers—Diana Bellessi, Laura Estrin, Ariana Harwicz, and María Moreno—reading from the point of view of the female characters they created.

Finally, heading north to Peru, the twenty-second edition of the Lima International Book Fair is on until August 6. Aimed at promoting reading and book culture in Peru, the event brings in authors from the Spanish-speaking world and beyond for book launches, roundtable discussions, and other activities.


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