On Thursday, the fiction writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which marks the first time a Chinese writer has won the prestigious award. Lauded for his command of “hallucinatory realism,” Yan (whose pen name translates to “not talking” in Mandarin) has drawn comparisons to Faulkner for the complexity of his fictional settings. Back in 2005, John Updike published his thoughts on the writer.
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch performed a haunting interpretation of “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, and the actor has also recently signed on to play Hamlet on the London stage in autumn 2014. This raises the question: is Cumberbatch the British James Franco?
Lots of action with the online mags: There’s a new issue of The Hipster Book Club, with a review of Aleksander Hemon’s Love and Other Obstacles, and an interview with Glen David Gold. There’s a new Quarterly Conversation, which includes Scott Esposito’s thoughtful consideration of Cormac McCarthy. Issue 3 of N1BR is out. And the first issue of The Point includes a piece on David Foster Wallace’s legacy.Brooklyn gets a new bookstore: Greenlight!Corpus Librus, the BEA editionIn an interview with Ed Champion, Sherman Alexie clarifies his comments about the Kindle being elitist.Tibor Fischer shares a first look at Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming Inherent Vice.The seven types of bookstore customers. (via)An incredible collection of pocket paperback colophons.Coming soon from The Onion, Inventory, a collection of “obsessively specific pop-culture lists.”The Ask Metafilter crowd suggests what to read after 2666.For fans of style guides, here’s one from The EconomistFOUND Magazine founder Davy Rothbart is crazy about vintage NBA jerseys. (via)Further Reading: Edan’s post on gifting books in a digital age generated a bunch of interesting comments. Be sure to check them out. On a related note, in PopMatters, Michael Antman bemoans the disappearance of the “physical manifestations of contemporary culture.”
When street art and literature combine: on “The Moving, Playful Poetry of the World’s Textual Graffiti Artists,” from Slate.
If Moby Lives is right, the literary beef that erupted when Oprah selected Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections for her book club and he rejected the (in his mind, dubious) honor is about to get a curious denouement. Speculation is that Freedom is poised to become another Oprah selection. And your author suspects that Franzen will be more welcoming this time around. (Oprah sticker haters should probably buy their copies of Freedom now, just to be safe.) Update: The AP confirms and so it begins again.
“Their deliberately childless life, their cat, Converse (named not for the shoe but for the political scientist), their free-range beef and nights and weekends of reading and grading and high-quality television series—it was fine and a little horrible. She gets it.” It shouldn’t take much convincing to get you to go and read some new fiction by Curtis Sittenfeld, Gender Studies, over at The New Yorker.
There’s a lot of (justified) talk about the power of reading, but simply owning a book can be meaningful. Mabel Rosenheck considers Walter Benjamin‘s perspective on book ownership – “[it] is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.” – and her own experiences with book collecting in San Francisco in an essay for The Toast. Pair with Anne Fadiman‘s essay on relationships, books, and relationships with books, “Marrying Libraries.”