LitHub’s editor writes, “Literary Hub will use its platform (as we have tried to thus far) as a space for bearing witness and calling to action, for testimony and prosecution, for lamentation and, when possible, celebration. A space for the many and wonderful literary voices that make up our real America.”
“One of the terrible secrets about attending graduate school in literature is that it can ruin your ability to read for pleasure; pick up a book, and a nasty voice whispers that you should be reading something serious – or reading something seriously. So in the classroom, I learned to put away my body. Outside of the academy, however, specifically through fanfiction, I was learning to read with it.”
“Over its 45 year history, 32 of the winners, jurors, and finalists have gone on to win the Nobel Prize” – among them Gabriel García Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Tomas Tranströmer, Czesław Miłosz, Doris Lessing, and Svetlana Alexievich. Editor and literary publisher Chad Post pays a visit to Norman, Oklahoma to check out the Neustadt Prize and this year’s winner, Dubravka Ugrešić.
“A novel written in a single sentence” – Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones – “has won the 2016 Goldsmiths prize, becoming the third Irish winner in the four-year history of an award set up to reward fiction that ‘breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel form’.”
“Campaign in poetry; govern in prose,” the old adage goes. This moment, though, has in many ways flipped that idea: The 2016 presidential campaign was decidedly lacking in poetry. Yet in its aftermath, as Americans consider the contours of their new government, they are, often, turning to poems: to Cope and her gallows humor.
“Here’s a Kafkaesque approach to the creative process: staying up so late that, as you doze at the writing desk, insights slip out of your unconscious. This was, according to a new paper in Lancet Neurology, precisely what Franz Kafka himself employed.”
“In Italy, with the lapse of copyright on Faulkner’s writing, there have been a number of new Faulkner translations that are doubtless more semantically accurate than those made back in the Forties and Fifties. And yet those old translations—made when a modernist work was still a matter of excitement, rather than an aesthetic museum piece—seem more aware of the energy and spirit of the original and certainly a better read than more recent, academic efforts.”
“The 36 stories are by Charles Baudelaire, Anatole France Guillaume Apollinaire and other writers associated with the French decadent literary movement. … Each story comes with a twist, from a wolf who is tricked by Red Riding Hood into strangling the girl’s grandmother and is then arrested for being an anarchist (‘I did 20 years of hard labour, while the slut inherited her grandmother’s savings’) to a Cinderella keen to be humiliated.”
Natalia Sharina, “the director of Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature has gone on trial charged with inciting ethnic hatred against Russians. … Her lawyer says witness statements describe seeing officers planting banned books at the library when they arrived to search the premises in October 2015.”
“The $100,000 prize is widely considered the most prestigious in Canadian literature, and caps an auspicious autumn for Ms. Thien; Do Not Say We Have Nothing received the Governor-General’s Literary Award last month, and was also a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.”
China Miéville: “Was More’s utopia blueprint, or satire, or something else? As if these are exclusive. As if all utopias are not always all of the above, in degrees that vary as much in the context of their reception as of their creation. … But the fact that the utopian impulse is always stained doesn’t mean it can or should be denied or battened down. It is as inevitable as hate and anger and joy, and as necessary.”
Citing Baldwin’s “The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they … have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors,” Scott Korb looks at why “such claims against white Americans didn’t make sense to students who believed they had never believed such things.”
Orlando Edmonds considers James Baldwin’s fundamental question – “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” – in the light of America’s fraught racial climate in 2016.
“The experience was like being in a war,” says novelist Alison Pick, who served on last year’s jury. “Other than the actual act of writing books, I would say it was the most intense experience of my literary career.”
“When two friends of mine were on recent panels, discord was so intense that each judge picked one finalist, the kind of situation that can produce unpredictable horsetrading and compromise winners. Corruption can also enter in. The year I was a judge, one colleague tried to give the award to a family friend. Another judge supported the writer with whom she shared an agent.”
Accademia has grappled with the literary stylings of Bob Dylan for some time. It may be that Dylan hits a funny sweet spot in academia today: To many professors, he still stands for literary ambition and ’60s rebellion. And for many students — born in the last years of the 20th century — he is so distant from the streets where they live he might as well be John Keats.
Shops that sold the political books banned in mainland China have closed; publishers that put the books out have gone out of business; and printers refuse to print the books for the writers and publishers who are left.
So this experiment goes well: “I apologize a lot. I try to assure the international book community that not all of America has lost its goddamn mind.”
The translation was a well-funded, politically motivated effort to show that Muslims were just as smart as, and in many cases smarter and more philosophically advanced than, Greek-speaking Christians.
“World literature’s most outspoken critics, such as Gayatri Spivak, Emily Apter, and Aamir Mufti, have warned that any attempt to take on such an immense array of cultures and texts will always flatten and homogenize them, smoothing a rich array of particularities into a Eurocentric monoculture. This is a fair concern. But lately the strongest work in the field of world literature has done the opposite.”
Slimani won for her thriller “Chanson Deuce.” She “left Morocco for France at 17 and enrolled at Sciences Po in Paris, one of the country’s most prestigious universities, made her entrance onto the literary scene in 2014 with the critically acclaimed novel “Dans le Jardin de l’Ogre” (“In the Ogre’s Garden”), a look at the life of a sex-addicted woman in some of the most chic neighborhoods of Paris.”
Actually, there will be several Words of the Year: Collins Dictionaries is just the first to announce; we’ve yet to hear from Oxford and Merriam-Webster. We wouldn’t be surprised, though, if they all choose this word.
“The prize, awarded by the literary publication Kirkus Reviews, doles out $50,000 apiece along with the honors in each category. Judges plucked the three winning books from the pool of more than 1,100 books that received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews in roughly the past 12 months.”
If we concede that books can be therapeutic, then it seems appropriate to explore the potential pitfalls of asking literature to serve that cause. Of initial concern is the inherent presumptuousness of the endeavor.
Stephen Akey: “My hero is fearless, proud, resolute, farseeing, self-sacrificing, and profoundly engaged in the struggle against tyranny and oppression. He’s also several hundred feet tall (when he wants to be), [and] does celestial cartwheels when flying between the earth and sun.”
The judge’s decision in the case mostly favored Sendak’s executors, but not entirely – and there’s more about the museum-library in the author’s will than we’ve seen in earlier reports. Peter Dobrin digs into the details.
What’s more, every newborn’s family will get a “knowledge briefcase,” taxes will be eliminated on publishing, and it will be illegal to destroy books. (So now we know where to send all those copies of Fifty Shades of Grey that secondhand bookstores won’t take.)
“Maybe the most reassuring thing about a dictionary is its finite nature. A small dictionary contains all the words you need to know, and a really big one seems to contain all the words in existence. Having one nearby seems to say that the language has boundaries, and reasonable ones at that. It might surprise dictionary-owners to know that most lexicographers do not think of their subject in this way at all.”
James Parker: “Oh, much. Much! … My thoughts do not have wings. They are auk-like.”
Rivka Galchen: “I’m naturally inclined to see comic writing as not only more difficult, but also more ethical, more honest, more essential and even more serious.”
Over the years, Sendak had deposited thousands of books and drawings at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. But Sendak never formally gave them to the Rosenbach, and after he died in 2012, his executors decided they wanted most of that collection back. So the Rosenbach sued the estate. Now the judge’s ruling has arrived.