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.
Print out your playing cards and start sifting through the comment sections of negative book reviews. It’s a new game called “bad review bingo.” (inspired in part by the frothy commenters to our own Janet Potter’s blistering review of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.)
According to The Secret Literary Life of Augusto Pinochet author Cristóbal Peña, the Chilean dictator “was tormented by an intense inferiority complex, which he tried to deal with by collecting books.” A recent article in The New York Times provides a look at that book collection, which totaled around 50,000 books and has been valued at around $3 million.
Looking for more thoughts on My Life in Middlemarch to supplement today’s interview? At Salon, Laura Miller reviews Rebecca Mead’s book, which she calls a “moving demonstration” of Middlemarch’s power. (You could also read Adelle Waldman’s Year in Reading piece about the novel.)
Wells Tower is having himself a great week, and it stands to reason that when he’s having a good week, we’re all having one as well. After all, we get to ponder the potential of the script Tower wrote for You Shall Know Our Velocity, an upcoming film based on Dave Eggers’s novel of the same name. We also get to read Tower’s Garden & Gun piece on “the nervous work of owning – and finally loving – a Chihuahua.” And as though that wasn’t enough already, we also get to savor Tower’s gripping feature story in the latest GQ, “Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?”
“I have the impression that the shelves of new releases in US bookstores are becoming more globalized. They’re still not as international as those in bookstores in Rome or Paris or Mexico City or Buenos Aires, where there is a much higher percentage of books in translation. But I think works in translation are becoming much more visible.” Mexican author Álvaro Enrigue contends that trends in publishing mean we’ll enjoy ever-increasing bounties of translated work. See also: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
“An appreciation of readers as diverse individuals with different tastes should be a basic tenet of criticism. Instead, it’s common for critics to imagine that their aesthetic preferences are the reflections of “readers” or a special class of readers—“serious readers,” “imaginative readers,” “brave readers,” or some other ill-defined category—whose views truly matter.” Lincoln Michel explains why “there’s no such thing as a fake reader” in an essay for Electric Literature.