Booker-snubbed, but still widely anticipated, Philip Hensher’s King of Badgers is out today. As are Ali Smith’s There But for The, Erin Morgenstern’s uber-hyped debut The Night Circus, and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, who wrote here about writers’ work getting better as they get older.
“As energy loss is an unavoidable fact of mechanics — no mechanism can be 100% efficient, and the best a designer can do is manage the loss as productively as possible — so translation loss is similarly unavoidable,” explains Mark Davie, who recently translated Galileo’s Selected Writings. But what if the “energy loss” isn’t a failure of the work’s translator so much as a failure of the organization commissioning (or failing to commission) the translation? What if, as is the case for much Arabic literature, “the process [of selecting works for translation] is based on a political consideration” that deprives Western readers of the best Arabic literary work?
The huge, McSweeney’s-published, John Sayles novel A Moment in the Sun has been getting great reviews. It’s now out. Also new this week is China Mieville’s Embassytown, reviewed here today; Paul Theroux’s exploration of the genre of travel writing, The Tao of Travel; prizewinning Nigerian author Helon Habila’s new novel Oil on Water; and A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, the complete stories of Margaret Drabble, recently written up by Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker. New in paperback are a pair of Millions Hall of Famers, Emma Donoghue’s Room and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
“In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was ‘every woman.’ To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?” If a ‘Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps’ headline isn’t enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest. To celebrate, Little, Brown is holding a cover design contest, with a $1,000 grand prize. Also, you know, the pride of seeing Infinite Jest published in your cover. Whatever, no big deal.