• September 11, 2013

    How has Catcher in the Rye been received in Russia? “First introduced to readers during Khrushchev’s thaw, Salinger’s novel became an instant sensation among Soviet readers in the nineteen-sixties, and it has remained a classic. The Party authorized the novel’s translation believing that it exposed the rotting core of American capitalism, but Soviet readers were more likely to see the novel in broader terms, as a psychologically nuanced and universally appealing portrait of a misfit who rebels against the pieties of a conformist society.”

    ResizeImageHow do betting houses successfully pick who will win big book awards? By focusing on the reviews rather than the actual books.

    When one of the first flights after 9/11 departed from New York to California, Joan Didion was on it. Twelve years later, Didion talks with the Los Angeles Review of Books about that trip, her books, and whether America is “losing its innocence.”

    On a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread, the editors of the Paris Review revealed what they don’t like in fiction. Topics included “speculative fiction,” “suburban malaise,” and “the obvious specter of childhood sexual abuse hanging over domestic stories.”

    Annie Proulx has finished the libretto for Charles Wuorinen’s opera adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, which is based on Proulx’s story about two male cowboys who fall in love. In writing the libretto, Proulx said that she wanted to “preserve the dry and laconic western tone” of the original. The opera will premiere next January in Madrid.

    Tina Brown will be leaving the Daily Beast when her contract expires in January, Politico reports. Brown plans to start her own company called Tina Brown Live Media.

  • The shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize has been announced. The nominees are NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Jim Crace’s Harvest, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, and Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary. The winner of the $80,000 prize will be announced in London on October 15.

    Jimmy Carter

    Jimmy Carter

    The New York Times reports that former president Jimmy Carter is currently shopping around a book about the unfair treatment of women around the world and “the use of religious texts to justify discrimination.” In the proposal, which is being circulated by agent Lynn Nesbit, Carter writes, “I am convinced that discrimination against women and girls is one of the world’s most serious, all-pervasive, and largely ignored violations of basic human rights.” He adds: “It is disturbing to realize that women are treated most equally in some countries that are atheistic or where governments are strictly separated from religion.”

    This is what Shakespeare plays sounded like when they were originally performed at the Globe Theater.

    At Flavorwire, Michelle Dean argues against the bizarre new trend of telling readers how long it will take to finish the thing they’re reading. Timestamps announcing predicted reading time first started showing up on online journalism outlets like Longform and Medium, and now they’ve made it onto a book: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s forthcoming Without Their Permission, which allegedly takes five hours to read. Dean writes: “I understand that we live in the kind of culture where we are scheduled down to the minute, where reading is a thing you fit into your spare time, which is typically the one hour you spend on the subway each day. So I understand needing to organize your time. But what I don’t understand is, as Ohanian evidently does, finding this kind of hectic overscheduling fun.” We completely agree.

    Geoff Dyer has incurred the wrath of Norman Rush fans by using a review of Rush’s new book, Subtle Bodies, to take swipes at the author’s earlier novels. A number of authors—including Emily Gould, Adam Wilson, and Elliott Holt—came to Rush’s defense after Dyer remarked that “reading Mating felt at times like drinking sand.”

    What’s with the persistent appeal of books about a single year?

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