September 20, 2013

Finalists for the National Book Award in fiction have been announced. They are Pacific by Tom Drury, The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, Someone by Alice McDermott, Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon, Tenth of December by George Saunders, and Fools by Joan Silber.

In lieu of teaching sex education in schools, Russian government officials are instructing children to look to literature for advice on love: “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature,” Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman told a news channel. “In fact, literature in general. Everything is there, about love and about relationships between sexes. Schools should raise children chastely and with an understanding of family values.”

Speaking of Russia, a cat has been named assistant librarian at the local library in Novorossiysk.

Russia's cat librarian

Russia’s cat librarian

After news broke last week that Morrissey’s memoir had been canceled due to a dispute with Penguin, NME reports that the book might come out after all. The music site posted a statement that is supposedly from Penguin—the Atlantic Wire was unable to confirm the source—saying, “The publication of Morrissey’s Autobiography remains with Penguin Books. This is a deal for the UK and Europe, but Morrissey has no contract with a publisher for the U.S. or any other territory. As of 13 September, Morrissey and Penguin (UK) remain determined to publish within the next few weeks.” The Atlantic Wire adds that Morrissey finished the 660-page book in 2011.

It’s a big week for books in New York City: In addition to the Brooklyn Book Festival and the Art Book Fair, the Lit Crawl is taking over the boroughs.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, is often referred to disparagingly as a chick-lit icon, but a New York Times profile notes that “the abiding oddity of her career is that she began it as one of the boys”: “She traveled to China for Spin and filed a story about the Three Gorges Dam that read like a dispatch from Hunter S. Thompson’s kid sister: sad, funny and surreal. Gilbert soon joined GQ, becoming one of the few women on staff, an arrangement that suited her. She thought nothing of plopping down next to Art Cooper, GQ’s famously macho editor, to pitch him stories as he downed his 5 o’clock vodka. The body of work she amassed—profiles of rebels and daredevils, mostly—composed a sustained investigation of masculinity. She went so far as to dress in drag and live as a man for a week.”

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