Even if you’ve already seen the outstanding documentary Wordplay, you’ll still want to check out this Atlantic article on how Will Shortz makes his New York Times crossword puzzles.
George Packer at Lapham’s Quarterly writes of meeting a young Burmese reader of Charles Dickens: “‘All of those characters are me,’ [he] explained. ‘Neither a British nor American young man living in the twenty-first century can understand a Dickens as well as I can…I am more equipped to understand Dickens than modern novels. I don’t know what is air conditioning, what is subway, what is fingerprint exam.’” (via Book Bench)
Elie Wiesel — Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night — passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here’s a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel’s essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
Elaine Kaufman supported writers at her restaurant when she was alive, and the Table 4 Writers Foundation keeps her legacy going with its grant. The third annual writers’ grants contest will award a $5,000 grand prize and two $2,500 prizes for promising writers. Applications are due by November 15 and can be submitted here. For more on Kaufman, read our own Bill Morris’s tribute.