Robert Pinsky writes about “three essentials for reviewers” of books.
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
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.
Much linked elsewhere, Triple Canopy has published the first complete English translation of the Roberto Bolano's 1999 speech accepting the Romulo Gallegos Prize.Keith Gessen of n+1 and All the Sad Young Literary Men has started a blog. People who like to make grand pronouncements about such things and/or snark about them are all aflutter. (via)Onward in snark, Tao Lin describes the "Levels of Greatness" for the American novelist. Spoiler alert: Philip Roth wins again. (via)Robert McCrum chronicles his ten years as The Observer's literary editor in ten chapters, from "Chapter 1: New Blood: Zadie Smith" to "Chapter 10: The Kindle."
I’ve long evangelized Mary Roach’s writing because she has such a knack for conveying extremely complicated information in an incredibly entertaining way. (See also: Susan Casey and Michael Lewis.) From cadavers to space travel, she focuses on our world’s most natural curiosities – and now she’s diving into perhaps the most natural curiosity of all: digestion. In her new book, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Roach takes readers on a journey through their own gullets. To get a brief idea, check out the book trailer. (It’s very “Innerspace”)