“‘Books are the best weapons,’ President Emmanuel Macron of France said at the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair, addressing the unifying power of literature and language. ‘Without culture, there is no Europe.’ … Can Dundar, the former editor in chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet who faces imprisonment in Turkey, will add to the political theme in a talk about writing in exile; the German author Thomas Wagner and the activist Gerald Hensel will discuss the identity of the new right.”
Otessa Moshfegh: “Upon awakening, I often ask myself, ‘Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing here?’ and from time to time, I’ve felt that the answers were merely memorized responses, and that my reality might be an arbitrary dash of the imagination – believable, sure, but not entirely trustworthy. This specific vulnerability – of the conscious, willful mind – is precisely what Jackson titillates and exacerbates in her stories.”
Amy Grace Loyd, who was Playboy‘s literary editor from 2005 to 2011, writes about how, and why, she convinced some of the English language’s top female authors (along with the likes of Junot Díaz, Walter Mosley, and Sherman Alexie) to write for the magazine.
“[Matt] Cain, the editor of Attitude magazine [a popular gay-male-oriented title in Britain], said the support for his book – which is on course to be the fastest-funded novel on [crowdfunding platform] Unbound – showed there was a market for a commercial novel about a gay man, even though publishers rejected it as ‘too working class, too 80s, too immersed in pop culture, and too gay’.”
“Something funny has happened in Stockholm over the last three years, a period that has coincided with the Swedish academic Sara Danius becoming chair of the Nobel Committee for Literature, replacing Peter Englund. The Nobel has become, well, fun. It opened up the definition of literature to include 2015 laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s oral histories and 2016 laureate Bob Dylan’s off-kilter folk songs. Kazuo Ishiguro, the 2017 laureate, would appear to be a far more conventional choice—his prevailing theme is memory and he has returned on multiple occasions to World War II.”
“In July, a flock of internet detectives discovered the books. The Travels and Adventures of Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger was published in 1889, and quickly forgotten thereafter, as was its sequel, Baron Trump’s Marvelous Underground Adventure. They are not timeless, and were quickly overshadowed by more compelling contemporary entries in the fanciful-travel-stories-for-children genre, like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Wizard of Oz. Their author, lawyer Ingersoll Lockwood, appears in history mostly for his role in a financial tangle that occurred in the aftermath of an elderly woman’s death on the railroad tracks near Philadelphia.”
Si Newhouse seems to have decided that the New Yorker was worth protecting, and that the way to protect it was to get out of the way. Remnick has written that he was left alone to manage the magazine. If it has become more business-savvy, sponsoring festivals and so on in a way that would have embarrassed Mr. Shawn, none of that seems to have diminished the quality or the integrity of the words on the page (or, as Mr. Shawn never could have imagined, on the screen).
Some things work well – Margaret Atwood’s Hag Seed, Jeannette Winterson’s adaptations to the story of The Winter’s Tale (titled The Gap of Time) – but: “In a 2015 New York Times article detailing the Hogarth Shakespeare project, Alexandra Alter wrote that Winterson’s cover was, ‘a promising start to an ambitious new series from Hogarth, which has assembled an all-star roster of stylistically diverse writers to translate Shakespeare’s timeless plays into prose.’ As the series has gained more traction, it is hard not to notice the word ‘stylistically’ here.”
Children’s literature scholar Philip Nel has published many books about Theodore Seuss Geisel, including August’s Was the Cat in the Hat Black? “He did great anti-racist work … and he did work that was racist,” Nel says. “It was the same person, the same body of work, done at the same time.”
Writers including N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor – whose 2010 postapocalyptic Who Fears Death is being turned into a series on HBO – and, earlier, Octavia Butler and Ben Okri, have long been turning to traditions well outside of medieval Europe for their speculative fiction books, but now “there’s an enormous appetite for fantasy stories that feature diverse characters and settings and tackle contemporary social issues.”
You want to read about fighting against despotic leaders who have almost total spy control over their populations, right? Right? Or maybe you just want to read Richard III again. You’ll find all of that here.
Railway books, obviously.
Disappointed, the gathered Murakamists watched the award announcement, clapped politely, and decided to consume the champagne they had at the ready anyway. “It was slightly more embarrassing for staff at Tokyo’s flagship Kinokuniya bookshop, who had lovingly laid out more than 30 titles of Murakami’s books in a special display. After they let out a loud surprised ‘Ohhh,’ staff quickly dismantled their Murakami corner and replaced it with their handful of copies of Ishiguro’s books while rushing to order more.”
UK Glamour magazine is going “digital first”, stopping its monthly editions and instead producing a “collectible, glossy” issue twice a year. A spokeswoman told the BBC the “mobile-first, social-first” move with a focus on beauty was based on how readers are “living their life today”.
“The ‘myth’ of language history: languages do not share a single history but different components evolve along different trajectories and at different rates.A large-scale study of Pacific languages reveals that forces driving grammatical change are different to those driving lexical change. Grammar changes more rapidly and is especially influenced by contact with unrelated languages, while words are more resistant to change.”
“Describing the collection, The Flame, as ‘an enormously powerful final chapter in Cohen’s storied literary career’, publisher Canongate said that the Canadian singer-songwriter had chosen and ordered the poems in the months before his death in November 2016. The overwhelming majority of the book, which will be published next October, will be new material, it added.”
“Poet, critic, and W.W. Norton editor Jill Bialosky has come under fire for borrowing the language of others in her book Poetry Will Save Your Life, a critical anthology-cum-memoir. The issue was first called out in a [harshly critical] write-up of the book that William Logan published this week in the Tourniquet Review. … We reached out to him with some questions.”
The story The Most Human Part of You, by Richard Kelly Kemick, a National Magazine Award-winning writer from Calgary, Alta., was found to share elements with the story The Dog of the Marriage by the American writer Amy Hempel. As a result, Kemick’s story, as well as a second work, have been pulled from The Journey Prize Stories, an anthology that features the best fiction published in Canadian literary journals and magazines.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg: “Fifty years after the Summer of Love, that’s been the fate of a lot of the language we associate with that era – faded psychedelia, sort of like acid rock and tie-dye, except that nobody ever tries to revive it. … But it’s striking how many words from the hippie era are still with us, from ‘uptight’ to ‘bummer’ to ‘freak show.’ As brief as the moment was, it changed the way we think and talk.” (includes audio)
The Swedish Academy cited the 62-year-old British author of The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant for “novels of great emotional force [in which he has] uncovered the abyss beneath the illusory sense of connection with the world.”
The French original of the magazine is (in)famous for its ferocious, often blunt and sometimes offensive satirical cartoons. The American version – a limited-edition (four parts), online-only project – is graphic journalism: a Paris-based American reporter joined one of Charlie‘s cartoonists for a trip along the Northeast Corridor for a look at the American left.
“We at Tramp experience sexism in lots of ways all the time, being dreaded women. One really annoying way we experience it is when authors send us their manuscripts and do one or both of the following: 1. Addressing us as ‘Dear Sirs’ and 2. Sending us a cover letter in which they declare they do not read books by women.”
“One thing you’ll notice: A full 75 percent of this year’s finalists are women – that’s 15 of the 20 final contenders. In fact, in the category for young people’s lit, every single finalist is a woman writer. Winners will be named at a ceremony in New York Nov. 15; it’ll be livestreamed on Facebook.”
“The Swedish industrialist said he wanted the prize to recognize ‘the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.'” That direction has changed several times over the past 116 years, having gone to writers as wildly different as Sigmund Freud, Winston Churchill, Pearl S. Buck, Rabindranath Tagore, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Samuel Beckett, Gabriel García Marquez, Doris Lessing, and Bob Dylan. Jim Heintz looks at what directions that ideal might be heading in this year.
“For me, cultural memoir is a mutating definition. I first began to think in that way when I was working with the boundaries between criticism – literary, cultural, or whatever – which I had done for so many years, and memoir. I realised that I needed, in some way, to merge and to keep those two forms in dialogue, interrogating – as we like to say – each other. So, I began to think of cultural memoir. Initially I was just working obviously with non-fiction but, as you can see, fiction and theatre make their way in here, too.”
“Consider the images coming out of South Florida” – let alone Puerto Rico – “the past few weeks: sailboats capsized and clotting on the shore; high-rises looking on, humiliated by their reflection in the flooded streets; palm carnage. These could easily be used to illustrate J.G. Ballard’s 1962 novel, The Drowned World.” Hunter Braithwaite makes the case.
“What, exactly, is literary studies? Is it a kind of history, a branch of philosophy, the study of rhetoric? Is it about becoming a better reader, in an ethical or technical sense? It’s not about learning how to write; that’s what MFA programs are for. One might turn to histories of the discipline in an effort to clear things up — but here, too, the same confusions apply. The history of methods of scholarship and criticism is its own subfield, and one can find convincing arguments to suit most any purpose.”
“Just in case you’ve ever wondered what the job of a curator is like, it’s the old duck analogy: above the waterline you’re serenely sailing along the water, moving events from venue to venue and e-mailing publishers; underneath you’re furiously paddling just to stay afloat.”
The winner will be announced on Nov. 20 and receive $100,000 — the richest literary prize in Canada. This is the first year the Giller Prize will be awarded since the death of its founder, Jack Rabinovitch.
Amineh Abou Kerech learned to speak English one year ago. How did she win a poetry prize for 10-13-year-olds? Her sister says, “She sits in her bedroom all the time and practises, practises.”