Catching you up to speed with two recent literary controversies: 1) Poets & Writers‘ MFA rankings kerfuffle gets a climactic and eloquent summary from The Missouri Review‘s Michael Nye. 2) In response to her Salon article, “How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant,” Victor LaValle has some fightin’ words for Laura Miller.
Remember back in 2011 when Steven Soderbergh made that list (PDF) of every movie, TV show, book, play and short story he had watched that year? Well according to his recent interview with New York Magazine, the book he most recently finished is Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies. (And what a coincidence! The book Murray most recently blurbed is Epic Fail, our first Millions Original.)
According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)