Okay, there have surely been worse bestsellers in the 48 years since, but probably none that were deliberately bad. Producer Sam Kim has assembled the first-hand story of the newspaper writers who pulled of one of the great “literary” (if that’s the word) hoaxes of the 20th century. (audio)
Not a tiger mother (as his book makes clear, Vance’s mother did not qualify), but the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua, who was his law professor at Yale. The two authors talk to Caroline Kitchener about their mentoring relationship and how Chua helped bring Vance’s bestseller into being.
A Pulitzer-winning author of poetry and nonfiction who directs the creative writing program at Princeton (and the erstwhile NPR NewsPoet), Smith says, “I think the responsibility really is to just help raise the awareness of poetry and its value in our culture. To me that means talking to people – getting off the usual path of literary festivals and university reading series and talking to people who might not even yet be readers of poetry.”
“The idea of purchasing a season’s or a year’s worth of books seemed like an interesting way to structure thinking about a customer’s relationship to the store,” Haskell said recently. At Blue Hill Books, C.S.B. members can purchase a “share” for a thousand dollars—or partial shares for two hundred or five hundred dollars—and draw on that credit to buy books throughout the year. “It’s not a donation; it’s not an investment.”
Hopkins? Arguably the most fervently Catholic poet in the English language? Oh yes. “The more one reads Hopkins, the more one becomes convinced that his particular torture was to have realised the intensely carnal nature of his own spirituality.”
Fewer than 20 fluent speakers of Haida are left in the world, according to local counts. For the Haida themselves, the destruction of their language is profoundly tied to a loss of identity.
Yep, in a public space in the library: “Few things are as treasured by writers as privacy, that place where you can tune out the world and live in the alternate one on your page. I found it in one of the most public places imaginable, crowded with tour groups and class visits, a must stop in the guide books. For over twenty years I have been writing in the New York Public Library—eight novels and a ninth underway—and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Alice Oswald, a British poet who won the International Griffin poetry prize for her collection Falling Awake, said, “Most of my favourite poets (both dead and alive) have never won prizes. However, in the spirit of carnival, it’s important for all people to wear a crown and ride on a float for a day – as long as they don’t turn up for work in it.”
Sure, some nonfiction addresses the impact of Occupy (remember “the 99%”?), but there is also fiction, poetry, and more that describes, pictures, and sums up the legacy (at least so far) of the very large social movement.
A handful of writers who top the Kindle charts, including LJ Ross and Rachel Abbott, have defied rejections from publishers and agents to knock out seven-figure sales for their brand of crime and thriller writing. This, in a market where it only takes around 3,000 sales to top the hardback charts.
Now the shop boasts an advertised “18 miles” of new, used and rare books, many of which Fred Bass himself has procured through private estates and overseas sales. “Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt,” Bass told NY Mag in 2014, describing New York as “an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here.”
“Recently, advocates who have been establishing means of revitalizing Alaska Native languages have created new opportunities for the preservation of Tlingit. Perhaps the most creative effort has been that of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a non-profit based in Juneau that promotes understanding of Southeastern Alaska Native cultures. In late 2016, it produced two phone applications and a podcast that aim to teach users the Tlingit language.”
Nick Douglas explains why the seemingly unserious speech tic can be crucial for keeping a listener’s attention.
“Naomi Alderman’s The Power, … set in a dystopian future where women and girls can kill men with a single touch, was the favourite on a shortlist that included former winner Linda Grant and Man Booker-shortlisted Madeleine Thien.”
“If the argument for globalism is so water-tight and damn-near irreproachable, why in the area of literature does one find so many supposedly progressive voices constantly bashing the very books that come out of the cauldron of heterogeneity? Why, in other words, are those from the intellectual class so quick to assume the mantle of the God of Genesis, impugning works that should be celebrated for either depicting or inhabiting the qualities of our modern world?”
“Richard Brautigan’s first novel sold less than 800 copies. His next novel sold 4 million copies. Trout Fishing in America turns 50 this year, and while most novels of that age now seem dated, Brautigan’s work seems particularly so: playful, goofy, fragmentary, optimistic. Trout Fishing in America is worth revisiting for exactly its status as an artifact of that time, a book that reveled in language, and made its writer into an imperfect legend.”
“Roy became the first Indian woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize with her 1997 work, which sold around 8m copies and turned the young author into a star of the literary world.”
“The Lee estate approached the publisher with the idea of a graphic novel. It is just the latest in a series of projects using Lee’s groundbreaking book since her death in February 2016.”
“Natalia Sharina was arrested in 2015 after a search of her Library of Ukrainian Literature found what officials described as anti-Russian propaganda. She denied the charges” and claimed that the books were planted by police. After spending 20 months under house arrest, she was convicted of inciting ethnic hatred and embezzling public funds; she was given a four-year suspended sentence.
“We live in a world where occupations that once seemed reliably perennial, like clerking in a retail store, are suddenly teetering on the brink of extinction. For novelists, whose work typically takes at least a year (and often much longer) to produce, delivering an up-to-date depiction of contemporary life must be a maddeningly elusive goal.”
“The journal, which once published works by literary giants like Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Cormac McCarthy and Wallace Stevens, was nearly moribund. When [novelist Adam] Ross was approached to apply for the position, the review had just a few hundred subscribers, and virtually no web presence. Its plain blue cover hadn’t changed since 1944. Reviving it seemed daunting.”
Only about 8 percent of current literary journals pay anything like a professional wage to their contributors (and slightly more pay their staff, but that’s a different question). So maybe “the whole enterprise of writing literary fiction is a complete waste of your time”? It’s a valid question.
Award-winning author Deepak Unnikrishnan: “When you grow up in Abu Dhabi, you’re trained by your folks to detach yourself from the place, but then you return to it periodically — not physically but mentally — and then sometimes you do so physically as well, and everything evolves, the city evolves, people evolve, your parents evolve, you evolve, and you can’t get a handle on it simply because you don’t know what to talk about.”
Noëlle Santos has lived in the Bronx her entire life, and she sees the development wave coming. Now, “Santos is working to open the borough’s newest bookstore, which will also be its only one. She’s calling it Lit Bar, because it will serve wine and, she hopes, be lit as hell.”
Alexie: “What I’m realizing now … is that the writing of the book was just the first half of the ceremony. Now I’m entering into the second half of the ceremony, bringing it to the public, starting to talk about my mother.”
“Many writers of historical fiction feel drawn to the untold tale. They want to give a voice to those who have been silenced. Fiction can do that, because it concentrates on what is not on the record. But we must be careful when we speak for others… If we write about the victims of history, are we reinforcing their status by detailing it? Or shall we rework history so victims are the winners?”
“[Professionals at] the central bank analysed the children’s author after finding that just one in five people could read and understand its inflation report.” Said a former deputy governor there, “Dr. Seuss was a master at using simple language, at getting children to read.”
“Why? While most books can survive centuries or even millennia, Tunglið – as its two employees tell me – ‘uses all the energy of publishing to fully charge a few hours instead of spreading it out over centuries … For one glorious evening, the book and its author are fully alive. And then, the morning after, everyone can get on with their lives.'”
“It is reminiscent of an airport bookshop: big enough to be enticing from the outside but extremely limited once you’re inside.”
“A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our constituents, and after hearing from a cross-section of opinions on having Rachel Dolezal participate in this year’s festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the audience and the other extraordinary authors we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival. For that reason, we believe it would be appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival line up.”