Jhumpa Lahiri: “I’ve been writing in Italian for almost two years, and I feel that I’ve been transformed, almost reborn. But the change, this new opening, is costly; like Daphne [after she was turned into a tree], I, too, find myself confined. I can’t move as I did before, the way I was used to moving in English. A new language, Italian, covers me like a kind of bark. I remain inside: renewed, trapped, relieved, uncomfortable.”
“Everyone keeps saying ‘I am not prejudiced, or racist,’ but they won’t say it is my responsibility as well to try and do better.”
And it’s full of literary fiction, poetry and nonfiction, with the occasional genre book tossed in.
“First, be sure to send an immediate message to the head of your workplace, if you have one, to initiate damage control. Because the coverage will soon be explosive: Photos of your face will appear on websites from Vietnam to the Czech Republic. I hope you didn’t opt for that fashionably roguish author photo, because the ‘bad sex’ headline will make it seem like the mug shot of an international sex criminal.”
In just the past decade, vexingly different figures have been reported — 1.8 million in The New York Times in 2009, four million by The Associated Press in 2013.
With his passion for books, Saeed Jan Qureshi built one of the biggest bookstores in the world — mostly selling books in English, in a country where that is a second language for most people.
“Peake then has each student create a grid marking everyone’s name and guessing the motives of potential perpetrators. The students start to interrogate one another, flexing their past-tense prowess as they pick over alibis. Portuguese is banned from the classroom; if anyone veers into speaking in their native tongue, Peake employs the element of surprise, sneaking up on students to tell them their English sounds somewhat suspect.”
While administering a language-based experiment, psychology researcher Chris Westbury “noticed that people always laughed when they saw the non-word ‘snunkoople.’ That got them wondering – was there something in particular about nonsense words that made them funny? If so, could it be measured? Turns out there is and it can.”
“Written when the future Nobel laureate was in his early 20s, ‘Twixt Cup and Lip was discovered in the University of Virginia archives by The Strand Magazine managing editor Andrew Gulli, who over the past few years has also tracked down long-lost and obscure works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and many others. The play appears in the Strand‘s holiday issue, which went on sale Friday.”
“As a parent I understand that desire to try to keep our offspring in a safe space, but it’s illusory. Life is not safe. The world is full of cruelty, both random and intentional. The world is also full of beauty and I’ve found the trick is to try to concentrate on finding the joy among the rubble, rather than sticking our fingers in our ears, singing lalala and claiming that life is undilutedly sweet.”
“Erotic books on audio started appearing about 15 years ago. Early listeners tended to be men, who had mastered the new technology of downloading, Michele Cobb, the executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, told me in an email. Women joined in later.”
“Ferrante is to women what Judy Blume was to pubescent girls in the 1970s: both a shock and a relief, writing what most don’t even admit to thinking. This is especially true regarding Ferrante’s depiction of motherhood, one filled with frustration, difficult choices, and the constant threat of the loss of identity.”
“The present tense seems natural for capturing ‘the jitter and flux of events, the texture of them and their ungraspable speed,’ [Hilary] Mantel explains. ‘It is humble and realistic – the author is not claiming superior knowledge – she is inside or very close by her character, and sharing their focus, their limited perceptions. It doesn’t suit authors who want to boss the reader around and like being God.'”
Ta-Nehesi Coates, who won for Between the World and Me: “The best part of writing is really to educate yourself. I don’t want to be anybody’s expert. I came in to learn.”
“You have to create the compelling characters and have the beautiful prose and everything, but a science fiction story has to do all that and also build an entire world for you, or come up with some mind-blowing idea on top of all that.”
“The credit-card-size papyrus, which Dr. Smith dates from around A.D. 250 to A.D. 350, contains about six lines of the Gospel of John on one side and an unidentified Christian text on the other. If Dr. Smith’s analysis is correct, it is the only known Greek New Testament papyrus from an unused scroll rather than a codex, the emerging book technology that early Christians, in sharp contrast to their Jewish and pagan contemporaries, preferred for their texts.”
“Heavy bidding for first timers is ratcheting up the size of some advances, agents say, since the competition offers some reassurance that other houses see big potential in a book as well.”
“We are delivering a really robust and proper profit. This will be the best true and underlying performance for this business for seven to eight years. A genuine, little small piece of black at last.”
“Danmei, meaning ‘indulgence in beauty’, is China’s version of what is often called ‘slash’ fiction in other countries. … The genre is only available online in China”
“Her mouth was intensely ovoid, an almond mouth, of citrus crescents. And under that sling, her breasts were like young fawns, sheep frolicking in hyssop – Psalms were about to pour out of me.”
Coates adds the nonfiction award for Between the World and Me to the Kirkus Prize he won last month and the MacArthur “genius” Fellowship he received in September. Johnson’s short story collection Fortune Smiles edged out the presumed frontrunners, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. (includes full list of winners and nominees)
– antimeria, “a rhetorical device that repurposes a word as a different part of speech than usual. In exposing that word’s ability to be understood across grammatical categories, antimeria … does more than surprise or joke or streamline (or sow surprise or crack a joke or render prose more streamlined). Antimeria unlocks a word’s essence. Thing is, a lot of people hate antimeria.”
While it presents itself to the general public as being a competition purely about literary merit, every writer, editor and publisher knows that NBA juries also have to consider matters like popularity and accessibility in anointing a tome as the One Book That Ruled Them All.
Dana Stevens: “If by ‘we’ you mean ‘I,’ then yes, probably. … When we mourn the early death of a writer who was just beginning to find his or her true voice, we’re also mourning, by implication, every work that author never finished, or never started.”
Benjamin Moser: “A dead young writer is, above all, a dead human being. … And the fine line that separates romance from treacle is the same that divides mourning from kitsch; to cross it is to glorify a heart-rending death instead of remembering the achievements of a life.”
“Hemingway said being a reporter was useful for a writer. He also said staying too long in journalism was damaging. Writing becomes so routinized that the words lack emotional force, exactly the opposite of literature. “
“Readers will still make their way to the 3 million libraries to see whatever unique collections they have, but readers will also find in those places much of what they now go there to find: intelligent people engaged in the work of knowledge and the work of community.”
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries: “Traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st Century communication. It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps – it’s flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully.”
“Dostoevsky was writing about losers. The main character of The Iliad, Hector, is a loser. … Madame Bovary is a loser. Julien Sorel is a loser. I am doing only the same job. Losers are more fascinating. Winners are stupid … because usually they win by chance.”
“To fit all the books in the allotted space, the library will have to abandon its version of the Dewey Decimal System, in which shelving is organized by subject, in favor of a new “high-density” protocol in which all that matters is size. Books will be stacked by height and tracked by bar code rather than by a subject-based system, making for some odd bookfellows.”
“Amazon’s editorial director of books and Kindle Sarah Nelson described Groff’s language as ‘electric’ and praised her ‘ingenious plotting … fascinating and unlike anything I’ve read in years. … Our editor adored it.’ Reviewers were not as convinced.”