Literary roundup: Translated Russians, provincial Americans and a confused and self-conscious writer

The shortlist for the Rossica Translation Prize 2014 has been announced for the best translation from Russian and it’s a pitched battle between five books. Interestingly, only one of the books’ authors is still alive, as one was quite famously killed in a duel (and that in 1837, so he wouldn’t be showing up at the award ceremony regardless!) while the rest are 20th century classics who suffered the burden of being great Russian writers following the revolution. The contemporary exception is Oleg Zaionchovsky, whose novel, Happiness is Possible, was translated by Andrew Bromfield and published by And Other Stories.

The award ceremony will take place March 20 at The London Library and if they want the winning author to be there, well, I have a good idea who’s going to win.

To read more about the award, the shortlisted and longlisted books, go here

To download Happiness is Possible for free this week only on NoiseTrade go here

Balla: Author of The Month

The Missing Slate’s Author of The Month is Slovak writer Balla, and so they have published a hilarious and very informative interview with the sarcastic and self-disparaging yet ceaselessly questioning writer. The interview is full of gems – such as:

“…Is it fair to say that there are echoes of Nabokov in your work?

Definitely not. I have read only a few stories by Nabokov, I didn’t like them and have long forgotten them so that I don’t even remember why I didn’t like them. I have one of his books on my bookshelf but I have yet to open it. It will be quite a nasty surprise it if turns out to contain the story ‘Signs and Symbols’.”

The story referred to above was just recently published in the magazine, and was the spur of Balla being named Author of The Month. Incidentally, this means he beat out all the other writers published during that month, which includes, as it happens, me. But I’d just like to say that far from being resentful at not being Author of The Month (and being instead, I suppose, Author of Nothing) I’m perfectly resigned to it. No, I’m not bitter.

Changing the American literary diet

At Words Without Borders publisher of Restless Books Ilan Stavans writes about why he became a publisher – “out of sheer frustration” – and then goes on to define that frustration and its antidote, namely the fantastic books that Restless are publishing from all over the world. There’s a business element to it but the basis of the piece is the “uncosmopolitan” provincialism of American publishing, reading habits, etc..

Read an excerpt of The Underground by Hamid Ismailov (Restless Books) in B O D Y

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2 Comments on “Literary roundup: Translated Russians, provincial Americans and a confused and self-conscious writer”

  1. 05/03/2014 at 5:21 pm #

    I read about The Underground in the publisher’s listserv email. It looks entirely fascinating. Thanks for providing a link to B O D Y and the WWB article.

  2. 05/03/2014 at 5:28 pm #

    My pleasure, as always.

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