October 21, 2013

Junot Diaz and Maya Angelou were among the writers honored at the fifth annual Norman Mailer Center Benefit Gala this week. The awards celebrate authors at various stages of their career, not all of whom were particularly fond of the event’s namesake: “I am still at odds with Mr. Mailer,” said Angelou. “If we had talked together, we would not agree. But he writes so well.” And Junot Diaz, when asked what Mailer’s work means to him, said: “It depends on what Mailer we’re talking about.”

When the Leo Tolstoy State Museum put out a call for volunteers to proofread 46,800 pages of the master’s work, it got an overwhelming response: three thousand Russians volunteered their services. The readers finished in two weeks, and now, almost all of Tolstoy’s work, including “novels, diaries, letters, religious tracts, philosophical treatises, travelogues, and childhood memories,” will soon be available online.

Alice Munro

Alice Munro

On his blog, sci-fi writer Charlie Stross conducts a thought exper­i­ment: “what would be the con­se­quences if a large inter­net cor­po­ra­tion such as Google were to buy the entire pub­lish­ing industry?” He considers that for around $10 billion a year, Apple or Google could “pro­vide free pub­lic access to [about 300,000 commercial-quality e-books per year] in return for a roy­alty pay­ment to authors based on a for­mula extrap­o­lat­ing from the known paper sales, or a flat fee per down­load; or they could even put the authors on pay­roll.” What would that do to the publishing industry?

Bloomsbury is launching a new imprint dedicated to popular science. Sigma will release fifteen books a year on topics from robotics to evolutionary biology, and will be edited by Jim Martin.

What does Alan Greenspan have in common with Michel Houellebecq? A book title.

Alice Munro is too sick to travel to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy announced this week. “Her health is simply not good enough,” Academy head Peter Englund wrote in a blog post. “All involved, including Mrs. Munro herself, regret this.” At 82, Munro no longer writes but did say earlier this year that she’s “becoming more sociable.”

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