Tonight at Columbia: A conversation with Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and most recently Super Sad True Love Story. Moderated by McKenzie Wark, professor of media and cultural studies at The New School and author of Gamer Theory. “Rewiring the Real” at 6:30 P.M.
“Everyone was compared to García Márquez or Fuentes once upon a time. Now it’s Bolaño or Vila-Matas (best case scenario). I am not sure what the reason for this is. There are many possible explanations. One may be that Latin America is still conceived by many as a kind of remote, torrid zone, an isolated and disconnected region of the world. So the only possible references associated with younger writers are the better-known older ones, always writing within the same language." Over at The White Review, Stephen Sparks interviews Valeria Luiselli about Latin American criticism and borrowing from the past. Also check out Lily Meyer’s Millions review of Luiselli’s new novel, The Story of My Teeth.
Can't get enough of Orange is the New Black? Neither could The Missouri Review. Their new blog series, Literature on Lockdown, shares narratives from those who teach or write in prisons. This week's post comes from Ace Boggess, a poet who spent five years in a West Virginia prison. "One thing about being a writer in prison is that you have not lost everything. You still have that driving need to speak whatever truth you know in whatever way you can. No one can take that away from you, not even the State."
The B.O.M.M. blog looked at our recent item Best American Short Stories: By the Numbers, in which we crunched some numbers behind the Best American Short Stories series, and created a nifty word map of the short story titles that appeared in the series from 1978 to 2008. "The most frequent word for a title (not including articles and such)? Life. It has appeared 9 times." If anyone else decides to mine some interesting discoveries from the B.A.S.S. data, let us know.
The Science Genius Initiative is a pilot project organized by Rap Genius, science teachers from ten New York City public schools, and GZA. Together, the group hopes “to change the way city teachers relate to minority students, drawing not just on hip-hop’s rhymes, but also on its social practices and values.” Indeed, as the Wu-Tang Clan emcee – who’s been working with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and MIT physicists for his new album – believes science is worth studying because it “unlocks the key to the universe, and the mysteries we don’t know.”
Out this week: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk; The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray (whom our own Mark O'Connell interviewed today); Submission by Michel Houellebecq; Golden Age by Jane Smiley; The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor; Moon Up, Past Full by Eric Shonkwiler; and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.