Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shepherding Sadness: Mia Couto in The Millions

"The Mozambican writer Mia Couto has been having a great year," wrote novelist Philip Graham for The Millions this morning. "Last week, he was nominated for the 23rd Biennial Neustadt International Prize for literature, his fellow nominees including César Aira, Edward P. Jones, and Haruki Murakami. And a mere six weeks before that, Couto won a major international literary award: the Camôes Prize for Literature."

Graham, author of The Moon, Come to Earth and Braided Worlds, then asks the hundred-thousand-euro-question: "Why all this recent success for a writer that you’ve probably never heard of?" Happily the answer isn't complicated: "Couto," he says, "is a master at inverting reality, reversing the order of the world with a swift aphoristic grace that leaves us puzzling over our normal assumptions....long regarded as one of the leading writers in Mozambique, [he] has now been recognized as one of the greatest living writers in the Portuguese language." And  The Tuner of Silences, which as you all know we published in February of this year, "cracks open a welcoming window onto a vast world of literary pleasures that has for too long remained under the radar in the English-speaking world."

Gosh & golly. Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mia Couto Nominated for $50,000 Neustadt Prize, 2014

Mia Couto Shortlisted for 23rd Biennial Neustadt International Prize for Literature

Nine writers each select a nominee for the $50,000 award
World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning international literature and culture magazine, today announced Mia Couto was among the shortlist of nominees for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. This announcement comes just 6 weeks after Mia Couto was awarded the 100,000-euro Camões Prize for Literature in recognition of his lifetime achievement.
 The Neustadt Prize, the most prestigious international literary award given in the United States, is often cited as “the American Nobel,” and is chosen solely on the basis of literary merit. Also on this year’s shortlist are César Aira, Duong Thu Huong, Edward P. Jones, Ilya Kaminsky, Chang-rae Lee, Edouard Maunick, Haruki Murakami, and Ghassan Zaqtan. Mia Couto is the first Mozambican author to receive a nomination in the 44-year history of the prize.
In the next stage of the award process, jury members will convene at OU in October for deliberations. The jury will then vote on the shortlist of nominees to select the winner of the prize, who will be announced on Nov. 1 during the Neustadt Festival of International Literature and Culture. The laureate will receive $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver, and a certificate of recognition at a ceremony at OU in fall 2014. For more information on the Neustadt Prize and the fall 2013 festival, visit

Friday, July 12, 2013

"It’s easy to become addicted to your product": The Globe & Mail on David Mason

This just in from today's Globe & Mail:

"Almost all booksellers are also book lovers which means antiquarian dealers are nearly inevitably divided souls, torn between the competing desire to collect what they love and the financial necessity to sell their wares. This tension between hoarding and retailing is both funny and sad, which explains the hilarious pathos that runs through The Pope’s Bookbinder, the sprightly but also melancholy memoirs of David Mason, a Canadian book dealer of international reputation ... A witty raconteur and compulsive gossip, Mason has written a book that will delight anyone who loves literary scuttlebutt."

But it doesn't end there. For a most suggestive conclusion check out the Globe website. Thanks to the Globe & to JH for their hard work, & have a great weekend, everybody. Peace & love from the Bibliomanse.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Festival Appearances by Anakana Schofield

For our friends on the west coast, you have two opportunities to catch Anakana Schofield at festivals this month:

First, this Thursday, July 11th, Anakana will be part of the Urban Underbelly reading at the Indian Summer Festival in Vancouver. She'll be featured alongside Anosh Irani, Jeet Thayil and Michael Turner at the SFU Goldforp Centre for the Arts. For more information, check out the full details online.

Saturday, July 20, she'll be at the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival for a solo reading at 12:45pm. Take a look at the full schedule here.

Monday, July 08, 2013

A Really Really Great Second Half

The Millions' Most Anticipated Great Second Half of 2013 book preview went up this morning. On it? Yep, that's right. "Poet Norm Sibum’s 700-pager should be on the radar of all the maximalism-starved readers who landed A Naked Singularity on our Top 10 list in 2012," writes Garth Hallberg, "though the book might more rightly be likened to something by William Gass or Alexander Theroux. Plot isn’t Sibum’s thing, exactly, but his erudition (considerable), sense of character (eccentric), and mood (quietly splenetic) more than compensate. The novel concerns a group of aging friends who share haunts in downtown Montreal. They talk, fight, love, and try to make sense of a historical moment that has disappointed their youthful hopes ... the prose is a consistent pleasure."

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Speed-dating short fiction in Milwaukee

Attn fiction lovers: Colette Maitland (f) & Nancy Jo Cullen (f) avail. immed. 4 short story speeddating at Tap Milwaukee. Look for them this Sunday in the personals section [#ahemArtsSection] of the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. Turn-ons incl. humor, realism, brevity.

The SJ on CM: "Straightforward realism with a touch of knowing humor."
The SJ on NJC: "Comic and sad at the same time."

Friday, July 05, 2013

"The boundless resistance of the human imagination": The Independent Reviews Mia Couto

Environmental biologist and Camões Prize-winning
author Mia Couto was featured in today's issue of
The Independent.
There was a spectacular review of Mia Couto's The Tuner of Silences in today's Independent. "Born in Mozambique to Portuguese parents," writes Zoe Norridge, "Couto is one of the lusophone world's most admired writers. Given his commitment to anti-colonial politics, it is tempting to read The Tuner of Silences as allegory: an imaginary world echoing the harsh realities of the Mozambican liberation struggle and subsequent civil war. But it is not a straightforward national critique. Instead, the parameters of the novel are both worldly and intimate. While Couto heads his chapters with poetry from both Latin America and Europe, the resounding focus of the narrative is the family unit. And, above all, the boundless resistance of the human imagination in the face of forgetting and loss."

Couto, of course, recently won the Camões Prize for Portuguese-language literature. He's "often referred to as a magical realist," Norridge continues, "But the mystical remains stubbornly absent from this book. Instead, the other-worldliness of the novel is created entirely by the dreams and delusions of its protagonists. Lovers of African literature may find resonance here between Couto's writing and JM Coetzee's new novel, The Childhood of Jesus. Both turn away from the present to reflect on the ethics of our interactions with others and the parameters of our internal worlds. While Couto's work is ultimately more joyful, The Tuner of Silences remains a sad novel of poetic brilliance – haunting in its human landscape."

Lovely. Just lovely. For the full review please click here.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

"Obsessive? Perhaps. Deeply satisfying? Unquestionably."

In today's Books section of The Washington Post, weekly columnist and
admitted bibliophile Michael Dirda discusses David Mason's The Pope's Bookbinder. "David Mason's absorbing memoir might be summed up by a button I recently acquired," Dirda writes: "'Life? Of course I have a life. It's a life filled with books.'" 

Tracking some of the best episodes and aphorisms in the book, from the Alice In Wonderland emergency buoy to the phrase that seems to speak to everyone in this crazy biz (“For anyone who might not know the difference between a job and a vocation, a vocation is a job where you don’t earn enough to live on”), Dirda situates Mason's memoir among the best of its kind: "Early on in this rambling, easygoing account of his career, Mason mentions three outstanding classics of that tiny subgenre: Charles Everitt’s The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter, David Randall’s Dukedom Large Enough and David Magee’s Infinite RichesThe Pope’s Bookbinder belongs on the same shelf."

Not too shabby, huh? Happy fourth of July. Keep an eye out for more Mason reviews soon.