The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, the forthcoming debut effort by sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman, gets an intriguing write-up in Publishers Weekly.
Comic book creator, novelist, screenwriter, journalist, lyricist — is there anything Neil Gaiman hasn’t done? He can add professor to his already impressive resume soon. Gaiman will be joining the Bard College faculty and teaching an advanced fantasy fiction workshop in the 2014 spring semester. Also, he recently spoke to NPR about Sandman.
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
At the Poetry Foundation’s website, Ruth Graham tackles a strangely ubiquitous question: how does a couple go about choosing a wedding poem? (For context, it helps to keep the following quote in mind: “the aesthetics of [a personal] wedding, at least for couples of a certain age and posture, are practically set in stone: indie pop music, mason jars, white Christmas lights, wildflowers.”)
“Courage is not a word I’d use to describe a lot of today’s fiction. Writing, M.F.A. students are often told, is a messy exploration of the self. The result can be a suffocating narcissism, a lack of interest in the kind of extrapolation and exploration that is necessary to both mathematics and literature.” At Page-Turner, Alexander Nazaryan urges young writers to learn math.