- Zadie Smith’s On Beauty takes home the Orange Prize.
- Map of the New Yorker caption contest winners. (via emdashes)
- Abebooks has put together some special pages celebrating its 10th anniversary. Check out Powers of 10 – which includes the list of most expensive books ever sold on the site – and the timeline, which shows what the site looked like at its humble beginnings. (thanks Laurie.)
“Marta Reale, 10, her smile broad, her bangs blanched, made her way to a recreation center’s doorway through the dense crowd of other children, sunlit cigarette smoke and mothers fanning themselves on the seats of scooters. Above her, more children were hanging out the window, and above them, more were crammed onto a balcony.” Jason Horowitz files from Naples, Italy for The New York Times about a casting call for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante‘s My Brilliant Friend, noting that it “has already drawn 5,000 children, the vast majority of whom have never heard of Elena Ferrante, and injected a mix of hysteria and hope into parts of Naples that are poor in resources but rich in real characters.” Pair with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s scope and impact.
“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions “comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s Fall 2011 issue, “The Soviet Ghost“, is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou’s heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov’s essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol’ fashioned KGB crime story.