Jonathan Foreman: “If you have had much to do with liberal intelligentsia in the U.S., they like to think they are above their own country, and they often have contempt for their compatriots, and they think they’re better. They think that being super-critical of the United States exempts them. When they talk about Americans, they don’t think they’re talking about themselves. They’re the same people who are always vowing if Bush wins the election, they’re moving to Italy. They never move to Italy.”
Poetry is a national pastime, but not a particularly “specialist activity,” said Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson, a professor of Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. “It’s part of being an Icelander,” he said. “Yes, it’s charming, isn’t it?”
They choose the word by number of searches, and, thanks to this year’s election, “fascism” is now the fourth-most-searched word in merriam-webster.com’s entire history. They sent out a tweet on Tuesday saying, “There’s still time to look something else up.” (One reply: “I’ve searched ‘puppies’ 523 times in the past 30 minutes. Anything change?”)
“[It] papyrus was rough, brittle, and prone to fraying. Its rise at papyrus’s expense, however, had little to do with the ergonomics of its use or the economics of its manufacture and everything to do with ambitious pharaohs who ignored the cardinal rule of military leadership: never get involved in a land war in Asia.”
“As people in a literate society, we think of language as what’s on the page. That’s the real thing; speaking is just an approximation. Language sits still. But then we hear new things coming in and unless it strikes us as catchy, we think, It’s not supposed to do that because that’s not what in the book. So when new things happen, they’re processed as vulgar and as broken. We don’t understand that no language could ever sit still.”
Education and Culture Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo announced the prize Wednesday, saying that beginning with Mendoza’s 1975 novel, “La verdad sobre el caso Savolta” (The Truth about the Savolta Case), the author had reinvented Spanish fiction. He said Mendoza’s books are “full of subtlety and irony.”
Editors of the New York Times Book Review choose their favorites of the year.
That’s how Corriere della sera described Erri de Luca, winner of the 2013 European Prize for Literature, who beat this year’s other Bad Sex finalists with a passage from The Day Before Happiness that reads, in part, “Our sexes were ready, poised in expectation, barely touching each other: ballet dancers hovering en pointe.” (Still, this isn’t nearly as godawful as last year’s winner.)
“Unlike bad sex, which is often obviously recognizable, bad sex writing can be hard to define … When describing sex, [spokesperson Frank] Brinkley says, authors feel moved to put a strain on language they wouldn’t ordinarily.”
“If you were ever a nerd who thought of the dictionary as your best friend … well, this is sort of like that dictionary has finally come to life and loves you back and also tweets about words all the time.” A conversation with the folks behind @MerriamWebster.
“In recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”
“In the age of [James] Patterson, [Harry] Potter and Game of Thrones, Indian authors have brought their own special flavours to the table: mass-market fiction based on reinterpretations of the two great Hindu epic narratives, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.” Readers are devouring it, and it’s becoming very big business.
“A lot of a bookstore’s success is case-by-case, but the fact that some bookstores are thriving and a lot of bookstores are opening means that there’s something inherently successful in the model.”
The love/marriage story is one of the most enduring plotlines in all literature. These stories have strongly influenced how we look at relationships and what we desire.
Dictionary.com noticed big spikes in searches for this word after the Brexit vote and following a speech by President Obama in June expressing concern about Donald Trump’s rhetoric. (There was an even bigger spike last year from South Africa following attacks on foreign workers.)
“Amid the trolls and politicians blasting out 140-character broadsides, poets and their readers have embraced Twitter as a vehicle for higher language. The premium Twitter places on brevity and emotional honesty is uniquely well-suited for an artform that so prizes not just candor and exhortation, but verbal economy.”
In North America, people really would like to meet the author, whoever she is. Instead, they get her English translator: “Public appearances and interviews with [Ann] Goldstein have gone a little way towards filling the void created by Ferrante’s choice to remain anonymous and do only the bare minimum to promote her books.”
And this is only Part I. Julian Barnes sums up 2016: “Is it a sign, or a consequence, of this dreadful year that the best books displayed stern lucidity in the face of darkness and death?”
Colson Whitehead had his idea for The Underground Railroad many years ago, but he says he wasn’t ready to write it until now. “I always have these ideas, and I think, ‘That would be really good; if I was a better writer, I could pull it off.’ And then I try to become a better writer to do it justice.”
Steven Galloway was fired from the University of British Columbia’s creative writing program a year ago, but the unrest on social media came about when Joseph Boyden, Margaret Atwood and other authors wrote a letter asking for due process for him. “There is fallout on both sides. And the collateral damage has been pretty devastating: nastiness among colleagues and strangers, threatened friendships, sorrow.”
“Why on Earth are people still buying a self-help book from 1936? Carnegie’s principles of relentless positivity are right at home in a culture of ingratiation, from the widespread drive to amass online friends by liking their posts (and thence to become an influencer) to the way every interaction with someone in the service industry feels like the prelude to a customer satisfaction survey. His ideas retain a startling currency in a society whose very drives and mores he helped to create.”
The eight-line poem, half of which was copied from a Dutch book of verse, is dated March 28, 1942, shortly before Anne and her family went into hiding from the Netherlands’ wartime Nazi occupiers in a secret apartment in an Amsterdam canal house.
“Shame is one of the central subjects of Giovanni’s Room … But that’s not stating it strongly enough: the whole novel is a kind of anatomy of shame, of its roots and the myths that perpetuate it, of the damage it can do. … That was the balm of the book when I first read it, the sense it gives that the tragedy it recounts is anything but inevitable.”
The online store, which Arunga described as “Amazon for Africa, with fewer payment options,” has now sold a thousand books in Kenya and beyond—a relative handful, but, to Williams, a meaningful start. In order to support a full-time employee, he said, the store only needs to sell fifty books a day. And if that happens it could serve as a proof of concept for literary entrepreneurship in the developing world.
An estimated 100 million people speak Swahili – more than French, Turkish, or Korean. And now enthusiasts are trying to spread use of the language all across Africa. (audio)
They examined 1,327 stories from Project Gutenberg’s fiction collection — all English-language texts between 20,000 and 100,000 words — using three language processing filters. In the end, they found “broad support for the following six emotional arcs…”
Brendan Fitzgerald considers, and questions, the taxonomy: “such labels sometimes reward the writer, who becomes associated with a popular movement. They sometimes reward the reader, who has a new word for what she seeks. … Whether labels like ‘longform’ reward a story is another matter.”
“I am a professional translator, having translated some 125 books from the French. One might therefore expect me to bristle at Google’s claim that its new translation engine is almost as good as a human translator, scoring 5.0 on a scale of 0 to 6, whereas humans average 5.1. But I’m also a PhD in mathematics who has developed software that ‘reads’ European newspapers in four languages and categorises the results by topic. So, rather than be defensive about the possibility of being replaced by a machine translator, I am aware of the remarkable feats of which machines are capable, and full of admiration for the technical complexity and virtuosity of Google’s work. My admiration does not blind me to the shortcomings of machine translation, however.”
None of these six nominees are as bad as the ghastly passage that won Morrissey the trophy last year, but nevertheless … (includes explanation of why Donald Trump was disqualified from the contest)