To honor Herman Melville for making the great white whale a metaphor for the inscrutable and unknowable, a prehistoric leviathan now bears his name. (Thanks, Kevin)
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
In addition to the Jewish refugees who emigrated to North America in the years leading up to World War II, there was also a sizable contingent who fled East. In particular, an estimated 30,000 refugees journeyed to Shanghai between the years of 1933 to 1941. With them, the refugees brought all sorts of valuables, heirlooms, and artifacts. One family brought over 2,000 books. Now, over 70 years later, one Shanghai family is asking for help locating the owner of that library. Part One; Part Two. (h/t Bint Battuta)
New this week: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro; A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray; After Everything by Suellen Dainty; The Blue Buick by B.H. Fairchild; Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley; and a new translation of The Bacchae by Euripides. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: On lyric essays and trauma at Ploughshares. “I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third surgery, the excision and biopsy.”