The huge, McSweeney’s-published, John Sayles novel A Moment in the Sun has been getting great reviews. It’s now out. Also new this week is China Mieville’s Embassytown, reviewed here today; Paul Theroux’s exploration of the genre of travel writing, The Tao of Travel; prizewinning Nigerian author Helon Habila’s new novel Oil on Water; and A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, the complete stories of Margaret Drabble, recently written up by Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker. New in paperback are a pair of Millions Hall of Famers, Emma Donoghue’s Room and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
Over at Words Without Borders, Marguerite Feitlowitz writes on teaching the art of literary translation. As she puts it, “Bringing texts from one place to another, from one tongue, context, history, and human body to another, is itself a political act. We can tell the history of the world through the history of when major texts have been translated—and where, why, and by whom.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
“[C]an we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don’t want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has some big, important questions in The Los Angeles Times.
Need to know how to tell if someone is or is not dead? How to leave a party gracefully? How to avoid the plague? Luckily the writers of the Middle Ages had a how-to book for everything, even if that advice does include killing bed bugs by “Spread[ing] Gun-powder, beaten small, about the crevices of your bedstead” and then lighting it.
After heavy rains exacerbated a mold problem in two dorms and made some students sick, St. Mary’s College of Maryland has 240 students living aboard the Sea Voyager, a cruise ship about the length of a football field now docked at the school’s southern Maryland campus.
After moving to Brooklyn, Sabine Heinlein spent a year trying to learn English, a task which left the native German speaker “close to aphasic” after a few months. Eventually, she met up with another recent immigrant, who enlisted her for help in a sprawling art project: a collection of words from each language spoken in New York City. At The Hairpin, she writes about her experience.