“With the [Booker] longlist it was ‘What, no Amis or McEwan or Rushdie?’; with the shortlist it’s ‘What, no Mitchell or Tsiolkas or Tremain?’” Andrew Motion, chair of the judges, shares his thoughts on the whole business of judging the Booker prize, at Guardian.
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James’s “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
Chad Post ran the numbers to calculate “the state of literature in translation today,” and in so doing he found that AmazonCrossing has been publishing more works of fiction and poetry in translation than any other press except Dalkey Archive. Additionally, the “overall number of works of fiction in translation being published in the U.S. is growing pretty nicely.” To get a full account of what’s coming out this year, check out his 2013 Translation Database.
On Monday we mentioned that the MTA has started offering free e-books underground as part of its Subway Reads program, but they weren’t the first to make books an integral part of the public transit experience. London’s Books on the Underground was first, but then came a more interesting development in Australia: book ninjas. Books on the Rails is a gonzo experiment started by two Melbourne residents who began releasing free books – actual, paper books – into the wilds of the city’s tram system. About 300 books are currently in circulation in what’s possibly the world’s most open lending library.