• January 2, 2014

    Ralph Ellison

    Ralph Ellison

    Shall we begin? The Guardian’s guide to the coming year runs through the likely literary landmarks of 2014: Hanif Kureishi on a fading writer being vexed by his young biographer, Alain de Botton on the news, Masha Gessen on the passion of Pussy Riot, retracing E.M. Forster’s travels in India, the third and final installment in Karl Ove Knausgård’s autobiographical trilogy, Ralph Ellison’s centenary, and more.

    Danielle Steel has been awarded the French Legion of Honor, making her the latest American to win France’s most prestigious prize. Steel, a writer of thrillers who is considered the bestselling author alive, joins a list of compatriots that ranges wildly from Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and Toni Morrison to Alan Greenspan, David Petraeus, and Bruce Willis. In reporting the award, the New York Times tracked down some comments Steel once made to The Telegraph, outlinging her influences: “Well, I always go back to the classics,” she said. “I love French literature. Colette is a special favorite of mine.”

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is launching a new online magazine. Could it be the future of music journalism?

    The Millions reports on the long, slow death of Blockbuster: “I remember when my family got our first VCR in the mid-1980s. The first time we entered the florescent-lit jungle of a video store, I was instantly enamored,” writes Jeff Martin. “The mere fact that these memories are still rattling around my head nearly thirty years later must have some significance, right?”

    Egypt may be in a big political mess, but the Cairo book fair is carrying on.

    At Salon, Laura Miller admits to giving up on eight books she couldn’t bear to finish, including Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed and Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles.