Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won for “The Sympathizer,” says that “Sometimes people have said that I give voice to the voiceless Vietnamese. If you know anything about Vietnamese people, you know they are not voiceless. They are quite loud, whether it is in Vietnamese or English. Here is a reading list of some of the most important writing by Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans, just to prove that we have not been voiceless. Most of the time we are just not heard.”
Some Austen scholars say that the standard for male beauty has changes since Pride and Prejudice was first in front of a reading public. “I mean, we all know that Austen wasn’t actually thinking of Colin Firth when she wrote the book.”
“No level of affluence will ensure that you write a worthwhile book. Consider the laws of the literary few: Having lots of money confers status but having very little confers legitimacy, which offers a different kind of status; having too much is unseemly yet so is having none. The rich and the poor collude in believing that the amount of money you inherit or make means something about your moral fiber, the quality of your art. What will we do when we find out it doesn’t?”
Yes, the usage exploded in the 1970s and ’80s, but it didn’t originate with Valley Girls or even hippies – it goes back at least to the 1770s. In this Lexicon Valley podcast, John McWhorter and sociolinguist Alexandra D’Arcy talk about the history and (yes) grammar of “like.”
Joan Acocella, reviewing two new books on the subject, considers the benefits of dirty words: their “analgesic effect,” their “cathartic power,” their “barrier-crossing function,” their role in bonding.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you’ve ever attended a poetry slam, you probably already hate ‘slam voice.’ … As an outsider, it’s an easy thing to make fun of, but unfortunately for our cold, dead hearts, it’s always been hard to articulate exactly why it annoys us.
“Now some libraries are deciding that the money isn’t worth the hassle – not only that, but that fining patrons works against everything that public libraries ought to stand for.” Ruth Graham explains the reasoning and the results.
Perhaps the ultimate tribute? Places invented in literature that become so famous that real places name themselves after them. It’s a tribute, of course. And there are a lot of them…
A judge sentenced the teenagers to read the books, as well as watching 14 films, visiting two museums and writing a research paper to encourage “a greater appreciation for gender, race, religion, and bigotry” (sic) after they were caught vandalising the Ashburn Colored School in Virginia.
“Started in 1990 by a small group of linguists, Word of the Year has spread like a video of an anarchist punching a Nazi that’s been set to music.” Stefan Fatsis explains how it happened.
“[Margaret] Atwood’s foreboding tale of a society that regresses into religiously driven totalitarianism took the top spot from Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dangerous.” (Guess the Super Bowl ad worked.)
“Recently, there has been a backlash against bloggers in general, but the attitude toward book bloggers has seen some bizarre comments surfacing in Facebook groups.”
“Monolingual ghettos are bad for science. In 2004, work on the transfer of H5N1 flu from birds to pigs languished unread in Chinese while critical time was lost. In the study’s sample, only half of Spanish-language papers and a third of those in Japanese even had abstracts in English. Those that did, unsurprisingly, were more likely to be published in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals. But the bird-flu case shows that that hardly includes all the science that matters. Some good scientists still can’t write in English. The solution is not to replace English, but to encourage multilingualism wherever practical, and require it when needed.”
404 Ink believes there is still a market for quality print products – with digital tools playing a vital role in their promotion, funding and distribution. “We love the physical product and we put a lot of work and money into making sure our magazine in particular is an object people immediately see and feel the value in,”
In a Murakami novel, cooking – and eating – means everything. “Cooking meals is more than a signal of independence though, it’s an introspective behavior that provides order to the chaos of the outside world.”
“Given that so many women writers and readers currently feel that, once again, we are fighting for our basic liberties, might a new category of women’s fiction, more overtly feminist than its predecessor, be on its way? Instead of women searching for sex and love with the opposite sex, perhaps the genre might revolve around women simply trying to survive the opposite sex. “
In grad school at Yale, after finding out his mother had died, Tarell Alvin McCraney “wrote the script not in anger, he says, or only in grief or guilt, though he felt both of those emotions. He wrote it in panic.”
You can prepare for the Super Bowl or you can avoid it – these pieces will help you either way.
“Despite ministerial pledges to halt the decimation of library services, the report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport found that the number of adults who had visited a public library in the 12 months to the end of September 2016 fell to 33.8%, from 48.2% 10 years earlier.”
In a letter to her local paper, she writes, “We call it fiction because it isn’t fact. … The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no ‘alternative.’ The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or ‘alternative fact’) is a lie.”
The Irish author is the first novelist to win the £30,000 prize for best book of the year in Britain twice. The winning book, Days Without End, is the story of two soldiers who fall in love during the American Civil War.
“Thinking in essentialist terms, Tolstoy felt that Napoleon failed to destroy Russia because the collective interests of Russian people aligned against him: a majority of people – wittingly or unwittingly – acted to undermine his agenda. Is it possible that we will see a similar alignment of grassroots interests now?”
“The bookseller made a £9.8m pretax profit in the year to 30 April 2016. The previous year is made a £4.5m loss. Bought from HMV by the Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut in 2011 for £53m, Waterstones has shrugged off the rise of ebooks and Amazon to record a 4.3% increase in sales to £409m. Sales growth has continued in the past year, with a 4.7% rise over Christmas.”
“It used to be ‘comic books,’ or ‘cartoons,’ or ‘the funnies’ – silly names for childish entertainments. Now, we say ‘graphic novels,’ with some rolling their eyes at the puffed-up earnestness of the name.” Joel Priddy looks at where the descriptor came from, why there’s a backlash against it, and why “comics” may be the least-bad option.
The great author-illustrator specified in his will that all of his ‘rare edition books’ go to the Rosenbach Museum and Library, part of the Free Library of Philadelphia. But the Sendak Foundation didn’t want to part with them (especially the ones worth millions), and two years of messy court battles ensued. At the end of last year, there was finally a settlement, and the Rosenbach’s share of the trove has now arrived. Peter Dobrin looks at what is (and isn’t) in it.
Her first novel, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize; since then she’s become known as an activist and published reams of nonfiction. A few years ago she said, “I’ve always been slightly short with people who say, ‘You haven’t written anything again,’ as if all the nonfiction I’ve written is not writing.” For those people, and the rest of us, the wait will be over this summer.
The RSS (for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is a Hindu nationalist group compared by some to the Tea Party and by others to the Ku Klux Klan. The Jaipur Literature Festival is a swanky, high-minded gathering that would consider the RSS both morally repugnant and vulgar. Until this year, that is.
Novelist Siddhartha Deb calls out the event and (especially) its sponsors: “One of India’s largest entertainment companies, Zee is best known for a news channel that serves as the media bludgeon of the Hindu right, its favorite term of abuse, usually flashing in extremely large font, being ‘Deshdrohi,’ or ‘Nation-hater.'”
Few poets write honestly about their economic situation. Indeed, it’s a challenge to find any poet willing to come clean about money: wanting it, enjoying it, needing it, or lacking it—even though this must necessarily be our condition.
The idea of “editorial independence,” like the idea of free speech, is not faulty per se, nor is it necessarily misapplied. But Milo’s’ case reveals the contradictions of any endeavor that speaks in noble tones about the profit motive.