Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Best Translated Book Longlist Announced. . .

One of my favourite new literary prizes has just announced its longlist.  The Best Translated Book Award judges not just the translation, but the literary quality of the work itself and as such it's a terrific reading recommendation list for some of the best recently translated international fiction.  There are authors representing 19 countries, writing in 12 languages.  I've read several of the books on the longlist and completely endorse their inclusion:  I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund, (one of my fall Dewey picks), The Jokers by Albert Cossery, translated by Anna Moschovakis (which was one of my top 10 favourite reads from my NYRB Classics Challenge), The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal (another favourite writer of mine),  To The End of the Land by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen (also a fall Dewey pick, just loved this novel), and The Literary Conference by Cesar Aira, translated by Katherine Silver (so surreally funny).

Read the full 25 title longlist here.  The shortlist will be announced  on March 24th and the winner on April 29th. Three Percent will bebloggin about each of the books in detail over the next few weeks.

Is Nothing Sacred? . . .

It was just a matter of time . . .

You can check out the cheeky book trailer here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Marvellous Melville House. . .

As I'm making my sales calls this wintry month selling the Summer 2011 lists while Fall 2011 is hitting my desk with a large thump,  the stacks of paper and catalogues and drop-ins can be overwhelming.  But one of the independent presses that I'm really proud to represent, just keeps infusing this cynical sales rep with electric (and ecclectic) jolts of amazing creative energy, passion and originality that completely recharges me.  This is THE press to watch in 2011 - they have one of the most incredible lists coming, starting with their new Neversink Library that, like NYRB Classics, is devoted to bringing forgotten classics back into print and commissioning new translations of some terrific international fiction.  I can feel a whole new reading challenge coming on. And don't the covers look amazing?

Here's the Neversink Library's inaugural list:

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun, translated by Anthea Bell.  I'm a huge fan of this author who was writing in Germany in the 1930s.  I've read and can wholly recommend two of her other novels - The Artificial Silk Girl and Child of All Nations and if you love Hans Fallada, you simply must read her. Look for a major Keun revival this year.

The Train by Georges Simenon, translated by Robert Baldick.  I've recently been reading both Maigret novels and his dark and compelling romans dur.  I can't wait to read this thriller about a man escaping from the Nazis who meets a mysterious woman on the train.

The Eternal Philistine by Ödön von Horváth, translated by John G. Wagner.  Another neglected work written during the Weimar years, described as "a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe's descent into Fascism".  .

The Late Lord Byron by Doris Langley Moore.  Out of print for decades, this biography of bad boy Byron focuses on the immediate aftermath of his life using a lot of literary detective work.

Coming in the fall will be The President by Georges Simenon, Faithful Ruslan by Georgi Vladimov, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies, and The War with the Newts by Karel Capek.

Then there's Melville's International Crime series.  Oh, my god - the covers of these books are incredible.  Check them out here at Caustic Cover Critic and then read their interview with Melville's talented new art director, Christopher King, here.  I'm working my way through them - love the new series by Jakob Arjouni, featuring Turkish wise-crack private eye Kemal Kayankaya and the Frankfurt underworld.  Kismet is the one to start with and one of my spring Dewey picks, along with the fun and sinister Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton.

Last but not least, they are doing something this summer that I'm still chuckling about - it's an absolutely brilliant idea.  For most publishers (and authors, I suspect), it's a nightmare when two books come out in the same season with the same title.  Well, Melville has embraced this challenge and this summer are publishing, not one, not two, but FIVE books in their Art of the Novella series, all by different authors, all titled The Duel.  Dueling Duels.  I love it!

Here's the list.  Let the battle of the books begin.  I'm getting up at dawn on five summer days and reading them all.

The Duel by Giacomo Casanova, translated by James Marcus
The Duel by Anton Chekhov, translated by Magarita Shalina
The Duel by Joseph Conrad
The Duel by Heinrich Von Kleist, translated by Annie Janusch
The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin, translated by Joshua Billings

And then there's The Lake, the new novel by the awesome Banana Yoshimoto and Conversations with Mr. Prain by Joan Taylor, which was brought back into print because of indy bookseller demands, and right now I'm giggling my way though Spurious by Lars Iyer.  So much great reading ahead . . .

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elementary, my dear reader. . .

BlogTO has a great peek into the Toronto Reference Library's Arthur Conan Doyle Room that houses one of the world's great collections of the author's works along with various other Sherlockian treats. And the room is decorated in the style of 221 Baker Street! Great photos accompany the piece, taken by Dennis Marciniak.  Read the article here.   I've never visited myself, but I am slowly working my way through The Complete Sherlock Holmes this year and will definitely go when I'm done.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HarperCollins Authors at the 2011 OLA Superconference

HarperCollins will be located this year at booths #731/733 at the Metro Convention Centre for the OLA Super Conference. We have a lot of exciting in-booth giveaways and events planned, including the following author appearances:

Thursday February 3rd:

10:30-11:30 Tom Earle, author of The Hat Trick
1:30-2:30 Vicki Grant, author of Not Suitable for Family Viewing
2:30-3:30 Lesley Livingston, author of Tempestuous

Friday February 4th:

9:30-10:15: Jenn Kelly, author of Jackson Jones
10:15-11:00: Rachna Gilmore, author of The Trouble With Dilly
11:00-11:45: Tish Cohen, author of The Truth About Delilah Blue and Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama
1:15-2:00: Dan Vyleta, author of The Quiet Twin

Please stop by the booth and meet these fantastic Canadian authors and have a book signed (while supplies last).

For those still reading, here comes the contest- the first person to come to the HarperCollins Booth each day of the OLA Show (Thursday February 3rd and Friday February 4th) and say the secret phrase 'I LOVE THE DEWEY DIVA BLOG' will win a fabulous prize!

I look forward to seeing you at OLA!

2011 Edgar Award Shortlists Announced

The shortlists for the 2011 Edgar Awards were announced today.

Best Novel:

Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA, Hodder in Canada)
The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins - William Morrow)

Best First Novel:

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates - Forge Books)
The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
The Serialist: A Novel by David Gordon (Simon & Schuster)
Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Snow Angels by James Thompson (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam's Sons)

Best Paperback Original:

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)
The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn (Henry Holt in U.S./ Random House Canada)
Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski (Minotaur Books)
Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks in U.S.- published as 'Darkness Rising' in the U.K., #4 in the Liebermann series)
Ten Little Herrings by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press in U.S. Macmillan UK in Canada)

Best Fact Crime:

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press - Bison Original)
The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in Jim Crow South by Alex Heard (HarperCollins)
Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery by Sari Horwitz and Scott Higham (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for his Assassin by Hampton Sides (Random House - Doubleday)
The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr (Alfred A. Knopf)

Best Critical Biography:

The Wire: Truth Be Told by Rafael Alvarez (Grove Atlantic - Grove Press)
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)
Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder (Wiley)
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvouz with American History by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)
Thrillers: 100 Must Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing)

Mary Higgins Clark Award Shortlist:

Wild Penance by Sandi Ault (Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime)
Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books in US/Bantam in Canada)
Down River by Karen Harper (MIRA Books)
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in U.S./McClelland & Stewart in Canad)
Live to Tell by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins - Avon)

Best Juvenile:

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)
The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee (Feiwel & Friends)
Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol by Jiim Krieg (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Best Young Adult:

The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Random House Children's Books - Alfred A. Knopf)
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)
The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)

For the shortlisted authors in the remaining categories, visit this website. The winners will be announced April 28th 2011.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fascinating Debut Novel. . .

With my current interest in fiction set in Germany, this new debut novel - The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins - looks fascinating and I hope to get to it soon.  The Guardian just ran this piece calling Hattemer-Higgins "one to watch", and it sent me to the author's website where she writes about her inspiration for the book which she describes as, "a single scream, one long lament for the tragedy of unbearable memory."  She worked as a tour guide at the concentration camp memorial of Sachsenhausen and her encounter with a tourist searching for his family's history triggered an emotional response that led to her writing this novel about memory and amnesia, both on a personal and national level.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NYRB Contest Winner. . .

Thanks to everyone who entered my NYRB contest - it was a lot of fun seeing which books on their fabulous spring list people were most interested in reading.  I wish I could have rewarded you all, but there can only be one winner.  So congratulations to Natalie F. 
Just for fun, I compiled all your votes for the books you most wanted to read.  Every single book on the spring list got multiple votes which just goes to show how astute an editorial eye NYRB has - they really do publish books for every reading taste.  The backlist requests covered numerous titles, but the one most often requested was Richard Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, which is also one of their biggest books (not sure if there is a correlation). The top three most anticipated books from the spring list were:

#3.  Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, translated by Donald Rayfield
A new translation of this great Russian classic.

#2.The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach
A fascinating true story about three paranoid schizophrenics who all believed they were Christ and were brought together to live for two years to argue and debate amongst themselves

And overwhelmingly,
the #1 favourite was . . . 
Fair Play by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal
The story of two women, both artists who live, work, love, and argue from opposite sides of a large apartment building. Jansson is one of my favourite NYRB authors - no one is better at writing about complicated women's relationships.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth has been made into a big Hollywood movie starring heartthrob Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland. The movie is directed by Kevin MacDonald, best known for The Last King of Scotland.

The movie is simply titled The Eagle, but it is based on the classic tale by Rosemary Sutcliff which was published more than fifty years ago. The epic story is set in Roman Britain and it centers on a young soldier named Marcus. After he is badly injured in an attack, he is sent to recover at his uncle’s home where he learns more about the mysterious disappearance of his father twenty years before. Marcus’ father was the commander of the Ninth Legion, a company of 5,000 men that marched into northern England and was never seen again. Marcus decides to set out on a dangerous quest to find out what happened to his father, the Ninth Legion, and the golden eagle which was their standard. The movie opens on Feb. 11, 2011 and it’s in English and Gaelic, with subtitles.

Click here to view the trailer.

It's About Time. . .

It's Friday, there's another snowstorm coming this evening - we all could use a little of this.  It's a quick clip of Colin Firth accepting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Enjoy.

And if you haven't yet seen The King's Speech - go this weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Celebrities Read Too. . .

Mobylives posted this link to Flavourwire's peek into the bookshelves of the rich and famous.  I'm gobsmacked at Karl Lagerfield's library.  Rod Stewart?  Who knew? I'd like to have Woody Allen's entire living room.  Greta Garbo?  Her library looks like it's been stocked by a designer to impress, not a reader, which makes one wonder what she did all that time in seclusion.  Diane Keaton?  Let's add your library to the many reasons that we love you. Anyways, have a look here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Which I Become Too Small For My Stitches. . .

So one of my many New Year's Resolutions was to try and improve my knitting skills and maybe even attempt a sweater.  I'm absolutely adoring Nicky Epstein's book Knitting Block by Block - so many great patterns and it's very easy to expand them into something bigger, beyond just a square.  I loved her Reversible Hourglass block so much that I turned it into a scarf.  So far so good. 

But then I thought I'd try a matching hat.  I wanted one with cables and found a pattern that I liked in Melissa Leapman's Cables Untangled.  I've tried circular needles and don't really like them, so measured the gauge and with some trepidation knitted away on straight needles.  Finished it, ran to the mirror, and . . . sigh. . . this was the result.

Maybe when the instructions said to cable away until it was 8 inches from the beginning, it meant from the beginning of the hat, not the beginning of the cable?  At any rate,  I appeal to all those experienced knitters out there. Can this hat be saved or do I have to find someone with a very large head?  Or (sniff, sniff) unravel it all and start again? Smaller needles perhaps?  Help!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Newbery Medal Winner announced. . .

Congratulations to Claire Vanderpool who has won the 2011 Newbery Medal for her novel Moon Over Manifest.  See the full list of Honour Books here and the complete list of ALSC winners here.  I'm thrilled that it includes Anne-Laure Bondoux's A Time of Miracles translated by Y. Maudet, which won the Batchelder Award for best translated fiction.  She's been a long time Dewey favourite.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One Crazy Summer wins the 2011 Scott O'Dell Award

The editor in chief of The Horn Book announced today on his blog that One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia has been awarded the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for 2011.

Set over in the summer of 1968 in Oakland, California, the story is about three sisters who are sent to summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. It is both a lesson in history and a touching story about three girls trying to reconnect to the mother who abandoned them years ago.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NYRB Giveaway. . .

I promised a giveaway to celebrate finishing my 50 book NYRB challenge and I'm going to let YOU choose your own prize.  I mentioned that NYRB Classics has an amazing spring list which I'm listing below.  Pick the three books that you'd most like to read from the Spring list, plus two books from their backlist (browse it here) and a lucky winner will get all five plus a snazzy NYRB totebag.  Send me an e-mail at  with NYRB in the subject line,  and a list of the 5 books. I'll throw all the names into a hat and pull out the winner. This contest is open to those living in Canada and the U.S. only.  For Canadian readers, please note that several NYRB titles are not available for sale in Canada and so I can't include it in your prize.  If the title doesn't show up on  then it isn't available in Canada.  Deadline for entering is January 15th, 2011.  NOTE:  This contest is now closed.

So without further ado, here's some of the amazing NYRB books to look forward to this spring. I guarantee there's something for everyone:

The Traveller's Tree by Patrick Leigh Fermor
An exploration of the Caribbean islands by one of the twentieth century's greatest travel writers.

The Doll by Boleslaw Prus, translated by David Welsh
An ambitious classic of Polish literature, a story of money, love and class set in the 19th century Warsaw.

The Ice Trilogy by Vladmir Sorokin, translated by Jamey Gambrell
Contains Bro, Ice and 23,000 - the three parts of Sorokin's trilogy recounting the escapades of the Brotherhood of Light, a group of homicidal fanatics in gritty, violent, contemporary Moscow.

Irretrievable by Theodore Fontane, translated by Douglas Parmee
The story of a couple, happily married for twenty-three years until a certain tension starts to creep in and they slowly start to drift apart.

The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach
A fascinating true story about three paranoid schizophrenics who all believed they were Christ and were brought together to live for two years to argue and debate amongst themselves.

Songs of  Kabir, translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
A collection from the Northern India philosopher, satirist and oral poet Kabir, who lived from 1398-1518.

We Think the World of You by J.R. Ackerley
A new unexpurgated edition of this dark "fairy tale for adults", as Ackerley described it.  From the author of My Dog Tulip.  And yes, this also features a German shepherd.

Fair Play by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal
The story of two women, both artists who live, work, love, and argue from opposite sides of a large apartment building.  Jansson is one of my favourite NYRB authors - no one is better at writing about complicated women's relationships.

Dancing Lessons for The Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Michael Henry Heim
An elderly rake recounts his life story to a group of sunbathing women who remind him of lovers past.  The whole novel unfolds in one single sentence (don't panic, it's not that long -the book, not the sentence).

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
A surreal, black comedy about the mother of countless children from several marriages and her relationship with a successful screenwriter.

Fatale by J.P. Manchette, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith
Aimee is a drop-dead gorgeous professional killer who has set her eyes on a backwater town where she plans to manipulate old grudges and play people against each other. A modern detective novel filled with farce and anarchy.

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, translated by Donald Rayfield
A new translation of this great Russian classic.

When the World Spoke French by Marc Fumaroli, translated by Richard Howard
From the death of Louis XIV to the Revolution, French was the universal language in Europe. A series of portraits of political and intellectual foreigners who conversed in French regardless of their native language.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Books. . .

The buzz has already started on a bunch of upcoming books.  Read about some Spring 2011 highlights here and here and here and here   (and the two excellent books pictured above are definitely already Dewey picks for me!)

NYRB 50 Book Challenge Wrap-up. . .

Hooray, I did it!  Took a bit longer than I'd estimated, but if you only knew how many reading challenges I set myself up for and abandon halfway, I can't help feeling pretty chuffed with myself.  (List of books read is covered here.)

The worst thing about doing this 50 book challenge is that I've barely scratched the surface of NYRB's terrific backlist (and they keep churning out fanastic new books every year).  Including the NYRBs that I'd previously read, I estimate that I've now read about 75-80 in total.   But I now have over 200 at home in a bookcase. Sigh. And yet, I'd never want them to slow down, because of course the BEST thing about doing this challenge is all the great writers and books I've been introduced to, as well as finally being able to dust off a bit of the gargantuan to-be-read pile.  I was already full of admiration for their editorial and acquisition savvy and fifty books later, this has only increased. And wait until you see their spring list! The biggest surprise was how funny so many of the novels were and how distinctive and original the narrative voices were. My biggest regret is that I didn't tackle as much of their non-fiction list as I'd have liked to, especially some of the travel writing.  And I could have read more women writers - only managed twelve out of the fifty -  although the make-up of NYRB's list is certainly dominated by men. Nevertheless it's been a very worthwhile experience and of course I'll continue to read and blog about NYRB books, although it may be a while before I commit myself to another public reading challenge. Still, I've got my eye next on Melville House's novellas series, classic and contemporary (and another unread couple of shelves at home).
Here are my top ten favourites from this NYRB challenge with links to my reviews  (to add to my previous top ten listed here before I started)

1. Troubles by J.G. Farrell.  I was crushed when we lost Canadian rights on this terrific novel that also won the Lost Booker Prize last year.  You can still get it in Canada from Orion, just not the NYRB edition.  At any rate, regardless of the publisher, just read it!

2. The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards.

 3. Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman, translated by translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler and Anna Aslanyan

4. Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson

5. Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker

6. The Jokers by Albert Cossery, translated by Anna Moschovakis

7. Skylark by Dezső Kosztolányi, translated by Richard Aczel
8. Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephan Benatar

9. Inverted World by Christopher Priest

10. Original Letters From India by Eliza Fay

And NYRB fans, stayed tuned for a contest and giveaway later this week!