T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize, And £20,000, To David Harsent

David-Harsent-012

“After four previous appearances on the shortlist for the TS Eliot prize for poetry, David Harsent has finally taken the honour for his 11th collection of poems, Fire Songs. He was described by the chair of the judging panel, the poet and novelist Helen Dunmore, as ‘a poet for dark and dangerous days’.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

The Percentage Of Children Reading For Pleasure Has Plummeted In The Last Few Years

girl-reading

“Sixty per cent of the children who enjoyed reading more when they were younger put this down to the fact there are ‘so many other things that I now enjoy more than reading,’ and 47% blamed the fact that ‘I have to read so much for school that I just don’t feel like reading for fun,’ with others citing the fact they now have to read on their own, rather than being read to.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

In Praise Of Book Publishing’s Gatekeepers

publishing

Daniel Menaker: “In my judgment, there are between 20 and 30 editors and publishers in New York who – along with experienced and discriminating publicists, marketers, and sales reps – have over the decades regularly and successfully combined art and commerce and, in the process, have supported and promulgated art. They are in fact the main curators of our life of letters. They have somehow survived the grinding – tectonic – friction between creativity and business and made a go of both. They are cultural heroes, actually.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Readibility? What Is It, Really? It’s A Myth, That’s What

readability

So argues Noah Berlatsky: “‘Difficult,’ when applied to literature, generally refers to works that are hard to read, hard to get through, hard to finish. And for me, that describes Left Behind far more than it describes Atonement – the second of which I read twice in quick succession and would read again happily, while the first made me hate life and hope to be transported mid-sentence to another, better realm.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

The Shrinking Of The Contemporary Literary Critic

photo_57825_wide_large

Literary critics have become more subdued, adopting methods with less grand speculation, more empirical study, and more use of statistics or other data. They aim to read, describe, and mine data rather than make “interventions” of world-historical importance. Their methods include “surface reading,” “thin description,” “the new formalism,” “book history,” “distant reading,” “the new sociology.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

The Future Of Language (How We’ll Communicate 100 Years From Now)

BN-GG149_cover_J_20150102112722

“The days when English shared the planet with thousands of other languages are numbered. A traveler to the future, a century from now, is likely to notice two things about the language landscape of Earth. One, there will be vastly fewer languages. Two, languages will often be less complicated than they are today—especially in how they are spoken as opposed to how they are written.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

New Book Collection Brings A Dizzying Array Of Indian Classical Literature To The Masses

03MURTY-blog427

“While the canon of surviving Greek and Roman classics is fairly small, the literature of India’s multiple classical languages includes thousands upon thousands of texts, many of which, as the writer William Dalrymple recently noted, exist only in manuscripts that are decaying before they can be translated or even cataloged.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Are We In The Next Phase In E-Books?

Ebook-011

“What is now being proven is that market is not infinitely elastic. Most of the data we see suggest that ebook sales growth has stopped. Ever-growing supply and stable demand is a toxic formula for the prospects of each successive ebook published for that market. My own hunch is that Kindle Unlimited is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Pulp Fiction – How Reading Was Democratized

150105_r25964-320

“Editors at the old hardcover houses looked on paperbacks as a bottom-feeding commercial phenomenon, like the pulp magazines and comic books they were distributed with. Critics ignored them, or attacked them as a lowbrow and politically retrograde diversion. Religious and civic groups campaigned to get them regulated or banned.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

African And Black Writers Need To Liberate Themselves From “Mental Tyranny”, Says Ben Okri

Ben-Okri-we need no instruction

The Nigerian novelist argues that “black and African writers are read for their novels about slavery, colonialism, poverty, civil wars, imprisonment, female circumcision – in short, for subjects that reflect the troubles of Africa and black people as perceived by the rest of the world. They are defined by their subjects. The black and African writer is expected to write about certain things, and if they don’t they are seen as irrelevant.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

African And Black Writers Need No Instructions From Ben Okri On Liberating Their Minds And Their Subject Matter

Sofia-Samatar

Somali-American literary scholar Sofia Samatar: “It’s beyond depressing to hear a writer of Okri’s stature, who himself writes powerfully about overwhelming subjects, board this broken-down train. … If, as Okri insists, ‘we must not let anyone define what we write’, why should black and African writers listen to Ben Okri? The essay’s demands and commands make it impossible to read as the expression of a quest for freedom.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Annie Proulx Wishes She’d Never Written “Brokeback Mountain”

brokeback

“I wish I’d never written the story. It’s just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out. … One of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends – they just can’t stand it.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Hilary Mantel Writes About Grief

Henry Peach Robinson's Fading Away, 1858.

“Grief is like fear in the way it gnaws the gut. Your mind is on a short tether, turning round and round. You fear to focus on your grief but cannot concentrate on anything else. You look with incredulity at those going about their ordinary lives. … Your former life still seems to exist, but you can’t get back to it; there is a glimpse in dreams of those peacock lawns and fountains, but you’re fenced out, and each morning you wake up to the loss over again.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

“Literally” And “Awesome” Aren’t Destroying English, Steven Pinker Reassures Us

steven pinker

In a Q&A, the cognitive scientist and linguist talks about rules of usage (and lack of them), the usefulness of emojis and italics, and his grammar feud with The New Yorker‘s Nathan Heller. He even explains the psychology that keeps grad students churning out academic jargon instead of decent writing. (And then there’s the hair …)

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Some Authors Flee Amazon’s All-You-Can-Read Service For More Lucrative Shores

28Amazonjp-articleLarge

“For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel. Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Writing About The Past When Evidence Is Slim

Writer-Sarah-Waters-006

“I was very interested in the way that the past was just continually reinvented as new ideas of homosexuality came along. It left me interested in not just the gay past, but how we write about the gay past and how we claim it or deny it. That led straight into my novels.”

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter