April 28, 2016

Jenny Diski

Jenny Diski

Writer Jenny Diski died this morning at the age of sixty-eight. She was the author of numerous books, including Skating to Antarctica: A Journey to the End of the World, The Sixties, and What I Don’t Know about Animals. Her book In Gratitude is scheduled for release later this month. Diski had been writing a cancer diary for the London Review of Books since 2014, when she learned of her diagnosis. The LRB has made all of her work for the magazine—more than two-hundred articles dating back to 1992—freely available. As Giles Harvey writes in his moving profile of Diski from last year, she was acutely aware of how difficult it is to talk about cancer without resorting to cliches, saying: “Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer. Or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing.” Of her decision to chronicle her life with the disease, Diski told Harvey: “Because I’m a writer, I could either shut up, that’s the end, get on with dying. Or, get gripped, which is what happened.”

Joy Williams—author of, most recently, The Visiting Privilege: New and Selected Stories—has been named the winner of the 2016 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The award will be presented to her in December at a ceremony held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

What is your greatest fear? Being baked in a pie and eaten. Which living person do you most admire? The queen is okay.” The Proust Questionnaire with . . . William Shakespeare.

Digiday’s new print magazine, Pulse, which will concern itself with the “modernization of media,” features a profile of Choire Sicha, who is, among other things, the cofounder of the Awl and the author of Very Recent History. Most recently, he started working for Vox Media, helping the company develop its relationship with platforms (such as Facebook). And Vox is growing fast: Its eight publications reached 62.5 million unique readers in February. Sicha is, in the words of former Awl publisher John Shankman, in a good position to help determine the quality of the material that is reaching all those people. “These aren’t really content organizations,” he says. “They’ve built the pipes. But ultimately the pipes are only interesting in what comes over them. He’s going to be able to influence what sort of stuff comes over them.”

Leonard Riggio, the founder and executive chairman of Barnes and Noble Inc., has announced that he will retire in September. When Riggio bought the company in 1971, it consisted of a single store in Manhattan.

Hilton Als (White Girls, The Women) has written a short essay on Prince, Cecil Taylor, Beyonce, and Octavia Butler.

New Directions publisher Barbara Epler on literature in translation today: “There’s a huge generational shift toward interest in books from around the world. Maybe because we’ve fucked the world up, or because what’s going on in America right now isn’t so great, so you’ve got to look outwards when you’re faced with that. There are plenty of great English-language writers but by and large foreign fiction is more interesting, for me, and for many.”

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