New books and Nooteboom

I’ve just returned from a trip to the UK, which mainly involved catching up with people and stocking up on books for the winter. The first port of call was FantasyCon in Brighton, where highlights included the Spectral Press launch of John Llewellyn Probert‘s The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine. The dealers’ room always offers plenty of opportunities for new purchases and the Joe R. Lansdale and Angry Robot stands were particularly tempting… Between the two of us, we came back with quite a haul.

Then I headed up to London for a few days, where I visited the marvellous Pre-Raphaelite exhibition (definitely recommended!) at Tate Britain with a friend and spent more time exploring bookshops. In Waterstones on Piccadilly I had my first sighting in the wild (sightings at home aren’t quite as exciting) of my translation of Cees Nooteboom’s Roads to Berlin, which picked up a good review from the FT at the weekend.

On Friday, I went to the International Translation Day event at Kings Place in London. Many thanks to the organisers for putting together such a fascinating programme, while still giving us enough opportunity to chat during the breaks. The day began with a plenary State of the Nation talk about literature in translation, with a star turn by publisher Christopher MacLehose. There were two seminars during the day. Ann Morgan was one of the speakers at the session on reader engagement and it was really interesting to hear about her experiences of “reading the world“. Her project involves reading a book from every country in the world over the course of a year and she’s had a fine time connecting with readers and writers all over the world. I was pleased to hear that she has a book coming out about the project and I’ll certainly be following her blog. The afternoon seminar I attended was about the rise of the small press and I was particularly interested to hear what Sophie Lewis, editor-at-large at And Other Stories, had to say about the success of this great little publishing house. After the seminar, we all came together for a session on Shakespeare in translation, which included a reading of “To be or not to be…” in three languages and a discussion of the Globe to Globe project, which saw 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed at the Globe in 37 different languages. The day ended with the award of the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize, with a focus on Chinese this year.

The latest exciting addition to the book collection was the Dutch edition of Nooteboom’s Brieven aan Poseidon (Letters to Poseidon), which arrived in the post at home yesterday. It’s an absolutely beautiful book of vignettes and reflections. This edition by De Bezige Bij looks stunning. Another recommendation.

I hear that a certain announcement is due from Sweden today. Whatever the result, I applaud the work of the Nobel committee, but I definitely know who I’m cheering for: Cees Nooteboom, the literary juggernaut.

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