Today in books and publishing: Alan Garner finishes trilogy after 50 years; Pankaj Mishra's response to the West; Fifty Shades in translation; shady dealings in self-publishing.
Korean translation of Fifty Shades fails to impress. If the many primetime television dramas coming from their country tell us anything, it's that Koreans love romance. And even though they're a bit racier than the local stuff, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy appears poised to catch on in Korea the way it has in other parts of the world. But Kwaak Je-yup, for one, isn't a fan. Reviewing the Korean version of EL James' erotic novel for The Korea Times, Je-yup says that it doesn't lose much in translation. If anything, the rough edges of the original prose get smoothed out and become more palatable. "The excessive references to Anastasia’s 'inner goddess,' or her libido, do not come as irritating. (Word repetition is not a grammatical crime in Korean.)," Je-yup writes. "Devastatingly unnatural dialogue in the original are improved somewhat." However, the delicate translation job still can't make up for what was always a poorly written story. "After finishing almost 800 pages of bad literature — very bad literature — it is jarring to think there are two sets more waiting." [Korea Times]
It took him over 50 years, but fantasy writer Alan Garner has finally finished his Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy. The upcoming publication of Boneland will bookend his series about two siblings in northern England who find themselves immersed in a world of dueling wizards and mythical creatures. Garner began the with The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963), but he let his characters Colin and Susan lie dormant for decades while he worked on books like The Owl Service (1967) and Strandloper (1996). "I met adults that had grown up with the first two books who said that they felt that there was a third book 'missing,'" Garner tells Reuters. "It was 2003 before I was ready to formulate the questions: what happened to Colin and Susan, and where would they be now? It seemed worthwhile to find out." [Reuters]
The corrupt side of self-publishing. The world of self-publishing is populated with all kinds of authors from earnest ones who just can't find a foothold in traditional publishing to crazies who simply want to unleash their ramblings on the public, and of course, there are the craven attention-seekers. The New York Times recently took a look at the world of for-pay reviews, in which self-published authors can pay mercenary reviewers to pass positive judgement on their e-book. All of a sudden, the self-publishing platforms that seemed so empowering for authors now seem kind of corrupt and untrustworthy. In Salon, Erin Keane writes, "I don’t know about lazy, but employing a service that dishonest and cynical demonstrates a bizarre contempt for the reader. It casts the writer as a producer of widgets and the reader as a sucker who probably won’t complain if the product doesn’t live up to the hype, because hey, at least it was cheap." [Salon]
Pankaj Mishra's From the Ruins of Empire. Last year, Niall Ferguson—who now finds himself embroiled in controversy over his error-filled Newsweek cover story—was torn to shreds by a reviewer in the London Review of Books named Pankaj Mishra. Ferguson's book Civilization: The West and the Rest offered what many considered white-washed view of colonialism, and Mishra wrote, "Ferguson remains defiantly loyal to his neoimperialist vision, scoffing at those who can still 'work themselves up into a state of high moral indignation over the misdeeds of the European empires.'" Now that Mishra has written From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, his own book coming out on the legacy of colonialism , The New York Times has taken the opportunity to profile the iconoclastic Indian intellectual. [The New York Times]
The publishing process, GIF'd. These animated images guide you through the highs and lows of publishing a book. [Nathan Bransford]
A bundle of Y.A. novels optioned for films. Twenty novels surfing the wake of The Hunger Games and Twilight. [The Los Angeles Times]
Palm Springs, California is in danger of becoming a book desert. Latino Books y Mas, Palm Springs' lone bookstore, currently faces eviction notices from real estate developer Palm Springs Promenade LLC. [The Desert Sun]