Last year we highlighted University of Nebraska Press among other small presses for the keeping in print otherwise little known future Nobel laureates. Today’s honoree Mario Vargas Llosa is quite well-known by comparison, but University of Nebraska Press has nonetheless (barely) run its Nobel streak to three straight years by way of Vargas Llosa’s inclusion in the press’ soccer writing anthology, The Global Game: Writers on Soccer.
“If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.” Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times lays some ground rules for those compelled to write memoirs.
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
Just in time for today’s Booker announcement, a pair of shortlisters are now (or will be tomorrow) available stateside: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut and The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Ian Frazier’s big travelogue (generously excerpted in the New Yorker) Travels in Siberia is out, as is Adam Levin’s massive The Instructions from McSweeney’s. Three more: Djibouti by Elmore Leonard, How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, and a gorgeous Library of America edition of “six novels in woodcuts” by pioneering graphic novelist Lynd Ward.
For The New Yorker Alex Ross describes the role Nebraska’s prairies played in Willa Cather’s writing, his encounters with Cather people, and how he became one himself. “From this roughshod Europe of the mind, Cather also emerged with a complex understanding of American identity. Her symphonic landscapes are inflected with myriad accents, cultures, personal narratives—all stored away in a prodigious memory. “