As noted on Arts & Letters Daily, Yale’s decision to shutter its Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism raises the question, “Where does scholarship end and advocacy begin?”
Jorge Louis Borges’s suggestions for the thirty-three books to begin his famed Library of Babel includes works by Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, and even Borges himself–and, maddeningly, no women. Nothing against Borges, but you may want to spend some time with our own slightly more diverse Year in Reading series for a bit more variety.
Since his death in 1950, George Orwell has grown more and more popular, so much so that his eponymous adjective is now widely used even by ideological enemies. So how did this state of affairs come about? In the new Intelligent Life, an offshoot of The Economist, Robert Butler delves into the story of how Orwell became an icon. Pair with: Vishwas Gaitonde on his visit to Orwell’s birthplace.
Kevin Barry has won the lucrative €100,000 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel City of Bohane, capably reviewed in these pages over a year ago by Bill Morris (whose drawing of Barry illustrates the piece). You can also relive this year’s massive longlist and quirky shortlist.
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
Ratik Asokan reviews Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya, a story about dealing with the violence that permeates El Salvador’s culture. “Fiction, unlike journalism, has allowed Moya to express the frustration and existential terror of living in a society thoroughly permeated by violence.” Pair with our reviews of Moya’s Tyrant Memory and The Dream of My Return.
The New York Times profiles MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. His book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (which we have been anticipating for months) is released this Tuesday.