HOW DO YOU SAY IT IN YOUR LANGUAGE? Founded in 1985 by Ann Getty and Lord Weidenfeld, the Wheatland Foundation has set up a new Wheatland Translation Fund. With initial funding of $100,000 per year, the foundation is looking at the problems of international literary exchange, with special emphasis on the problems of translation. The foundation also is studying the possibility of holding an annual conference to monitor and survey developments in world literature.
CRIME MAY OR MAY NOT PAY: A book by Jean Harris, the former girls' school headmistress now serving a 15-year-to-life sentence for the murder of her former lover, "Scarsdale Diet" Dr. Herman Tarnower, is under investigation by the New York State Crime Victims Board. At issue is whether or not Harris' royalty payments from "Strangers in Two Worlds," scheduled for publication this summer by Macmillan, should go to as-yet-unnamed persons who might merit restitution for her crime. If no such person surfaces within five years, Harris will receive earnings from her book.
BIRTHDAY BOOKS: Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Book-of-the-Month Club will issue a series of BOMC Classics: up to seven titles from the most memorable books the club has published since 1926. First to be issued in these facsimile editions will be "The Thurber Carnival" by James Thurber, first published in 1945. Forthcoming titles, to be published every two months or so, include Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front"; "Seven Gothic Tales" by Isak Dinesen; Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," and "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger. BOMC members will be able to buy the books for $4.95 with the purchase of any other book. Nonmembers will be offered the books through a special enrollment offer.
Also scheduled for publication as part of the club's anniversary celebration will be an informal history of the club called "A Family of Readers" by William Zinsser. In August, Little, Brown will offer "The Book of the Month," a collection of reviews and columns from the BOMC News.
Finally, some BOMC facts and figures: Launched in 1926 with 4,750 members, the club now boasts more than 2 million members and has shipped 440 million books.
LITERARY SWEEPSTAKES: "Pluma de Oro," the first U.S. literary competition for writers working in the Spanish language, has been announced by American Express Co. chairman and CEO James D. Robinson III and Dr. Edward Foote II, president of the University of Miami. Prizes will be awarded in 1987 for novel, short story, essay, drama and poetry, with the manuscripts to be judged by independent juries consisting of editors, journalists, writers and academicians. "We hope this competition will offer incentives for Hispanic writers and other U. S. residents writing in Spanish," said Bernard J. Hamilton, president of American Express' Latin American and Caribbean division. "Hopefully, it will turn up this country's Carlos Fuentes."
CHECK THIS: Along with an official Quality Paperback Book Club Einstein sweat shirt, an official QPB Sherlock Holmes mug and an official QPB backpack, novelist Richard Perry also received a check for $5,000 as winner of the second annual QPB New Voice Award. Honored as the most promising and distinctive author of a work of fiction or nonfiction by the book club in 1985, Perry, author of "Montgomery's Children" (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich/NAL), reportedly liked the check best of all.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: For several decades now, one of the major agonies for college students of art history has been whether or not to underline H. W. Janson's classic "History of Art." Last revised more than a decade ago, the book has been a bible for art history students since it was first published by Harry N. Abrams Inc. in 1962. With a third edition just under way when Janson died in 1982, his son Anthony Janson was asked to carry on his father's legacy and complete the project. Chief curator of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., the younger Janson previously as curator of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, taught art history at several universities and received his Ph.D. in art history from Harvard. Under his guidance, the expanded edition, set for April publication, will for the first time include the work of women artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Louise Nevelson and Helen Frankenthaler. With its distinctive new gold cover featuring the "Winged Victory," the book also will include a full history of photography as an art form. The great underlining debate clearly seems fated to plague yet a new generation of college students.
HOT OFF THE LAUNCH PAD: Pocket Books' 192-page tribute to the crew of Challenger Seven was published Feb. 28, one month to the date after the tragic explosion that killed all seven astronauts. But the house balks at labeling "Challengers: The Inspiring Life of the Seven Brave Astronauts of Shuttle Mission 51-L" an instant or quickie book, demurring, in the words of Pocket Books Vice President Anne Maitland that "this book really is very thoroughly researched," and explaining that "we tried to get something out while there was a need for it." Written and edited by 21 staff members of The Washington Post, the book offers a history of the space program, but focuses on the lives of the crew members. "So many people wanted to know more about these seven remarkable individuals that we felt it was important to publish a full-length book on their inspiring lives," Pocket Books publisher Irwyn Applebaum said. Half of the fee charged by The Post will be donated to a fund for the astronauts' children. Maitland said Pocket Books will donate a portion of its earnings to a similar fund, as yet undesignated.
FATHERS AND SONS: In "A Perfect Spy" (Knopf, spring '86), John le Carre takes on his most personal subject yet: his troubled relationship with his own father. Writing about the book in "Book of the Month Club News," Le Carre reveals that though this is the novel he has always wanted to write, it did not come easily. "And when my other novels did begin to flow," Le Carre writes, "each in one way or another seemed to be the surrogate for the one I had still failed to write. Until a gloomy ritual developed. As soon as a novel was finished, I returned in despair to the mountain I was still unable to scale." Le Carre characterizes the father-son relationship in his novel as a secret war, "waged in the back alleys of their relationship." But of his own relationship to his father, he is more circumspect: "To ask me what is 'true' in this novel and what is 'imagined' is to address the least reliable of sources. A novelist's job is to make fables from his own life. His tools are his wit, his eyes and ears and the marks upon his own soul. Not even on the day I finished 'A Perfect Spy' could I have told you where the material came from."