The 2010 National Book Awards were announced this evening. In fiction, Jaimy Gordon won for The Lord of Misrule; in nonfiction, Patti Smith won for Just Kids; in poetry, Terrance Hayes won for Lighthead; and for young people’s literature, Kathryn Erskine won for Mockingbird.
Google ran into a wall of litigation when it tried to create a public digital archive of every book in the world. Now a team of academics is taking on the challenge. Nicholas Carr examines whether Robert Darton and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society can succeed where Silicon Valley failed. Also be sure to check out our review of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
New this week: Human Acts by Han Kang; Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh; Glaxo by Hernán Ronsino; The Gringo Champion by Aura Xilonen; and Transit by Rachel Cusk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“[Emily] Dickinson is often portrayed as some white gossamer recluse, completely divorced from the world outside her bedroom—but that is not really true. The physical circumference of her adult life was small, but its psychological terrain was boundless.” This piece explores the ways in which Emily Dickinson’s work was shaped by her skills as a gardener and naturalist.
Vladimir Nabokov spent twenty years translating “the first and fundamental Russian novel,” Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. His battle with the text sparked an intellectual debate with his former friend, Edmund Wilson. The Paris Review has his notes. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s thoughts on Lolita.
Joshua Rothman writes for The New Yorker about Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, privacy and “a gift that you’ve been given, which you must hold onto and treasure but never open.”
The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links:
Criticism: Franco Moretti, Distant Reading
Poetry: Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (The Poet and the Movie Star: An Evening with Frank Bidart and James Franco)
Previously: The finalists
“Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.” Let’s just say David L. Ulin doesn’t think Joyce would work for Google.
“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.