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Weekly News Update

By David Varno

In addition to the Penguin Prize for African Writing, a literary award announced today by Penguin South Africa (and featured on Book Case at The Times) that will honor unpublished manuscripts from African authors with a cash award and publication, Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is working with Penguin to bring a series of six books into the States called Penguin African Writers.

"One of the greatest things literature does is allow us to imagine," Achebe told the Guardian,"to identify with situations and people who live in completely different circumstances, in countries all over the world." Alison Flood's piece covers Achebe's book, Girls at War, and the other five books in the series.


Vietnamese readers have long been interested in literature in translation, and lately there has been an increase in availability of foreign books, thanks to the state's participation in 2004 in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. According to Viet Nam News (and thanks to the Book Bench for highlighting this), publishers now have an easier time negotiating with houses in China, Japan, France, and the U.S., to bring in books from those countries. The most recent sensation is Indian author Vikas Swarup's Q&A, which will be available as Slumdog Millionaire.


Cervantes, a politics-centered blog that also covers literature, presented a very interesting response yesterday to this past weekend's interaction between Obama and Chavez, with five Latin American writers' suggestions of books that Chavez could have given the new U.S. President instead of Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America. Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, who contributed to our anthology The World Through the Eyes of Writers, thought that the Venezuelan president should have given Obama some poetry.


Stay tuned for our coverage of the round-table discussion of the Goethe-Institut New York and Leo Baeck Institute's exhibition Publishing In Exile: German-Language Literature in the US in the 1940s, which opens on April 23.

Also watch out for our extended and diverse coverage of this year's PEN World Voices. We will have several guest writers, in addition to our stable of bloggers, and plan to cover more than two dozen of the readings, lectures, panels, and other events featured on the incredible week-long program.

Published Apr 21, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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