Colum McCann can add the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the long list of accolades he has received for Let the Great World Spin. The book is a Millions Hall of Famer and our coverage of the title has been fairly extensive. Previously: Digging into the 2011 IMPAC Longlist, The Eclectic IMPAC Shortlist Has Arrived.
On Monday, November 7, at 7PM, n+1 and Housing Works will present the event "Occupy." Writers and activists will discuss the situation at Zuccotti Park--what it means, how it's going, and where to go from here. Panelists will include Meaghan Linick, Sarah Resnick, and Astra Taylor, and the conversation will be moderated by Keith Gessen. Free copies of the n+1 OWS-inspired Gazette will be on hand.
The South African J. M. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today. This prize seems to be given alternately to the obscure or the internationally known. Coetzee most assuredly falls in the latter category, and his receiving this award comes as no surprise. He has won the Booker Prize twice, an unprecedented feat, as well as countless other major and minor awards, and long ago passed from the realm of "author" into the realm of "master." The Nobel Prize seems to surpass all other prizes in inducing people to read, and rightly so. It is as close as the literary world comes to "officially" admitting a writer into the canon of world literature from which he or she can never be removed or forgotten. So, if you are among the many who decide to read or reread Coetzee in the coming days or weeks, allow me to suggest two books, first his breakthrough novel and arguably his best, Waiting for the Barbarians, and then the second of his two Booker Prize winning efforts, Disgrace. If you want to learn more about Coetzee check out the "bio-bibliography" provided on the Nobel Site.Beyond FreaksDiane Arbus has long been considered among the greatest photographers of all time. Her work is a staple of art museum collections throughout the world. Arbus (who committed suicide in 1971) was best known for her unnerving photographs of circus freaks, street performers, and other "outsiders" dwelling on society's margins. Though she focused on the margins, she also illuminated just how blurry these margins can be. Sometimes we can feel like outsiders in our own homes or in our own families. The two new Arbus books that have come out recently help to illuminate this aspect of her work. Neither book focuses on her circus and sideshow work, yet each book retains the visceral power that her "freak" photography is known for. The first is a collection of previously unpublished photographs called Diane Arbus: Family Albums, which is devoted to family portraits she took over the years. Some were commissioned and others were not, but they all retain that powerful quality of dread that her photographs seem to take on. The other book is an impressively thorough volume put out by Random House that amounts to a biography as well as a retrospective of her work. It is one of the most extensive collections of her photography ever put into book form.Shout OutsGarth, a friend and trusted fellow reader, has weighed in on The Fortress of Solitude. After finishing the book, I eagerly waited for Garth to read it so that I could hear his opinion. It was worth the wait. I also want to give a shout out to Jeff Mallett creator of Frazz who I am told is a fan of the site. This also gives me the opportunity to tell all of you that I always have been and always will be a newspaper funnies junkie.
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library's excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. "In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations."
In a welcome change of pace from the customarily masculine lists of years past, the 2013 Booker Prize longlist is notable because women outnumber men. The thirteen novels on this year's "Booker Prize dozen" are from an eclectic mix of up-and-comers as well as established heavy hitters. Interestingly, only Colm Tóibín and Jim Crace have previously been featured on Booker longlists. Meanwhile NoViolet Bulawayo, Eleanor Catton, Eve Harris, and Donal Ryan are each making their first appearances. This year's longlist is among the most diverse ever put out by the Booker judges. In total, seven different countries are represented by the authors of these books. All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with excerpts where available): Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (excerpt) We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (review) The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (publisher synopsis) Harvest by Jim Crace (excerpt) The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris The Kills by Richard House (author interview) The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (excerpt) Unexploded by Alison MacLeod TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (Millions review, author interview) Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson (YouTube video of author discussion) A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (review) The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (YouTube video of author reading) The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (Millions review, excerpt)