Controversial writer Michel Houellebecq finally wins France’s top literary award, the Goncourt Prize, for The Map and the Territory (published in French last September).
"It is the persistent, damning mischaracterisation of Zelda as 'insane' that most needs undoing. The trouble lies in the diagnosis she was given in 1930: 'schizophrenia'. While today we know it to mean severe mental illness requiring delicate and often lifelong treatment with medications, therapies, and sometimes institutionalisation, in Zelda’s time it was a catch-all label for a range of emotional difficulties." Reexamining the life and reputation of Zelda Fitzgerald.
"Symptoms included a frenzy for culling and hunting down first editions, rare copies, books of certain sizes or printed on specific paper." Lauren Young writes in Atlas Obscura about the phenomenon of bibliomania, "a dark pseudo-psychological illness" that afflicted upper-class victims in Europe and England during the 1800s. And for a first-hand account of more contemporary book theft, read John Brandon on his high school pastime: "The first time was nerve-racking, a rush, but by the third book I was already settling in."
David Risher founded the nonprofit Worldreader program in 2009 to distribute Kindles to children in the developing world. His aim was to increase literacy. Today the program has shared over 200,000 e-books with children in Ghana and Kenya, and Risher and his colleagues hope to allocate 10,000 reading devices by 2013.
It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
80 years ago Samuel Beckett's publisher rejected his short story "Echo's Bones" because it gave him the "jim-jams." The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, "People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won't be keen on analysing the shudder." Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
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.