A literature-loving dad tries to make sense of the new frontier: Digital books for kids.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
E-book pricing wars continue. Sony tries to hit the Kindle where it hurts by offering cheaper e-books. Meanwhile, $0 is becoming an important price point at the Kindle store.Sam Anderson hates Thomas Pynchon.An indie bookstore fan uses our bookstore tour as a jumping-off point for a literary day in Manhattan. You can too.
At The Guardian, Jhumpa Lahiri recounts the path that led her to write her latest book in Italian, one of the most anticipated books of 2016. As she puts it, “A week after arriving [in Rome], I open my diary to describe our misadventures and I do something strange, unexpected. I write my diary in Italian. I do it almost automatically, spontaneously. I do it because when I take the pen in my hand I no longer hear English in my brain. During this period when everything confuses me, everything unsettles me, I change the language I write in.”
Jay Rubin, best known as Haruki Murakami’s longtime English translator, is also a novelist in his own right. Last month, he published his debut The Sun Gods, about a Japanese-American couple who meet each other on the eve of World War II. In an interview with The Rumpus, he talks about Murakami, his new book and his interest in Japanese literature. You could also read Ben Dooley on Japanese cell phone novels.