“According to Michael Reynolds, Europa’s editor in chief, the subject heading is listed in the book’s metadata as ‘essays,’ under the broad category ‘literature and fiction.’ That listing won’t change, he said.”
With a week to go, the favorite was running at 4:1, followed closely by candidates at 6:1 and 7:1.
“Memory, childhood, and the legacy of race in America are preoccupations that propelled works in each of the categories for this year’s finalists … The winners will be announced at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 16th.”
“Prolific across all mediums, it is not difficult to imagine Oates delighting in the act of tweeting, of tossing thoughts into the world, both for the enjoyment of the craft and to see what happens, like tiny crystalline bombs. … Joyce Carol Oates has poked 28,000 140-character holes in the notion that anyone can or should serve as a universally competent public intellectual.”
“It did not prevent a century of wars (many fought, notably, between people who spoke the same language). Instead, Esperanto’s speakers were persecuted throughout the 20th century.” (Stalinists thought they were spies; McCarthyists thought they were Commies.) “Esperanto may not have changed the world. But in both its ideals and its practice, it holds out the possibility of transforming the lives of the people who use it.”
“Two of [the language’s] conservationists have produced the first full-fledged English-to-Yiddish dictionary in 50 years and it is designed to carry Yiddish into the 21st century and just maybe beyond. After all, Yiddish has always had a canny way of defying the pessimists.”
“Twenty years after Arundhati Roy won the 1997 Booker prize for her debut novel The God of Small Things, the Indian novelist’s second, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is set to be published in 2017, her publisher has announced.”
There are several apps for that, actually, and video games as well; they’re seen as good ways to meet young people on their own ground. Alli Joseph (of the Shinnecock Indian Nation) gives a brief survey of what’s out there.
“The sales bounce comes after a report that appeared in The New York Review of Books and other publications citing extensive documentation to show that Ferrante is likely a German-born translator living in Rome. Ferrante’s publisher has declined to confirm or deny the findings and asked that Ferrante’s privacy be respected.”
“Both walking through a city and reading a poem are ways to thoughtfully and pleasingly disrupt the flow of time and possibly to intensify or concentrate your experience. Both constitute occasions to ignore or even disrupt the prevailing fantasies—predicated on speed—of global capitalism: efficiency, profit maximization, and productivity. A poem is by design inefficient; it’s not a set of instructions or a memo or a text. A walk is almost never the fastest way to get somewhere. But both walks and poems can afford a more textured and deep experience of space and time.”
“Even as her friends hunted down compelling stories – here was a group of refugees living in one of Saddam’s former prisons; there was a supposedly innocent man who’d been deported from America after his name appeared in the 9/11 commission report – they always had to keep one eye pragmatically, even ruthlessly, on what might go down well at home.”
“I bet you five pounds that you can’t write a 150,000-word novel in one month. If you do it, you get the five quid and I publish the book. If you don’t, I get a fiver off you, and I have to go back to publishing local poets. I hate local poets. In fact, I hate all poets. And all poetry. I have a long-standing and deeply entrenched hostility to the form.”
“But after a months-long investigation it is now possible to make a powerful case for Ferrante’s true identity. Far from the daughter of a Neapolitan seamstress described in Frantumaglia, new revelations from real estate and financial records point to … a Rome-based translator whose German-born mother fled the Holocaust and later married a Neapolitan magistrate.”
“The store says that none of its current board and staff members were involved in the original decision to allow Portlandia to film inside the store six years ago, and that the ‘small flat fee per episode filmed’ doesn’t cover its lost profits.”
“Today, the book community now reaches beyond publishers, bookstores, state lines, or any other arbitrary limits. That is how people from Ohio and Massachusetts can cross another book off their To Be Read pile by poking through our online store, because we are part of the book community which has no borders.”
Adam Kirsch: “The more you think about it, the less obvious it is that any use of a book can be ruled out in advance.”
Anna Holmes: “If we’re interested in figuring out what’s wrong about reading, we might be better off determining what’s right and working backward from there.”
“But is really a religious or ethnic thing? Can we call it a ‘Jewish accent’ rather than, say, a ‘New York accent’? Scholars say, yes, there is an American Jewish accent, but it’s complicated.”
“In July 1845, British curiosity-seekers headed to London’s Egyptian Hall to try out the novelty of the summer. For the price of one shilling, they could stand in front of a wooden bureau, pull a lever, and look behind a panel where six drums, bristling with metal spokes, revolved. At the end of its ‘grinding,’ what it produced was not a numeric computation or a row of fruit symbols, but something quite different: a polished line of Latin poetry.”
Of the six finalists, five are women with Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates, the sole male finalist for the prestigious prize.
“The bookstore covers a sprawling 21,000 square feet, draws in more than a million tourists, and sells about 700,000 books every year. And while most of the titles are printed in Spanish, just marveling at the theater-turned-bookshop is worth a trip.”
“The manuscript has baffled cryptographers since book dealer Wilfrid Voynich found it in an Italian monastery in 1912. It contains hundreds of pages of fine calfskin parchment, which scientists have dated to the first half of the 15th century. … Academics continue to hotly debate whether the manuscript is an elaborate hoax designed to fool 15th-century book collectors, or a detailed secret code that remains unbroken.”
“In the United States, a bidialectal person might be someone who speaks both Standard American English and African-American Vernacular English (called AAVE but also known as ‘Ebonics’), which differ a lot in pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary – so much so that AAVE has controversially been called a distinct language. So do bidialectals enjoy the same cognitive benefits as bilinguals?”
“E-book sales have fallen precipitously for months, in part because many publishers have raised their prices after negotiating with Amazon and gaining the ability to set their own prices.”
“A writer has the right to inhabit any character she pleases — she’s always had it and will continue to have it. The complaint seems to be less that some people ask writers to think about cultural appropriation, and more that a writer wishes her work not to be critiqued for doing so, that instead she get a gold star for trying.”
“I am locked in a battle between self-doubt and self-discipline, and the former usually wins. I have the concentration of… oh, I like your shoes. It is so much easier to plummet down the sinkhole of Twitter.”
Yaa Gyasi: “This novel was an attempt for me to say: We cannot look away when something like this is happening. We can’t look away. We don’t get to.”
“Shakespeare refuses to be boxed in. Not only do we know very little about what he really thought, felt and believed, but the plays themselves are elusive. Just when you think you’ve got a meaning nailed down, your interpretation melts like jelly and you’re left scratching your head. Maybe he’s deep, very deep. Or maybe he didn’t have a continuity editor. And Shakespeare will never turn up on a talkshow and be asked to explain himself, the lucky devil.”
“Punctuation started out as free and easy prosodic units, meant to help the reader read out loud to an audience with all the requisite intonation, tone, pitch and pauses intended by an absent author. … With the more speech-like IM, texts, tweets, punctuation is just getting back to its roots, as a way to convey prosodic and speech cues in the absence of sound and vision.”
“Wikipedia editors sometimes use bots to help them keep on top of changes that users have made to the online encyclopedia. But when two editors task different bots with making incompatible edits, each bot will keep finding that its work has been undone.”
“Nearly half a century ago, archaeologists found a charred ancient scroll in the ark of a synagogue on the western shore of the Dead Sea. The lump of carbonized parchment could not be opened or read. Its curators did nothing but conserve it, hoping that new technology might one day emerge to make the scroll legible.” That day has arrived.