On December 17, Turkish author Yaşar Kemal will be decorated as a Grand Officer of the French Légion d’Honneur. Kemal received the rank of Commander in 1984. Read his contribution to our Year in Reading series here. (Via HaberTürk.)
Recommended Listening: Margaret Atwood on her new novel – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and the fall of realistic fiction. As she explains it, “when there's perceived instability that's happening you can't write [a so-called realistic] novel and have people believe it."
Implicit in a lot of the discussions about how negative a book reviewer can be is a question of utility: is a book review an act of public service or a work of art in itself? In the Times, James Parker and Anna Holmes debate the purpose of the review. Sample quote: “I’d argue that a majority of the reading public doesn’t necessarily benefit from the sorts of reviews for which artistry is the point.” You could also read our own Matt Seidel’s hypothetical worst review ever.
Three decades after his death, the work of Romanian writer Max Blecher remains largely unavailable in English. Ricky D’Ambrose writes for The Nation about Blecher’s work. As he puts it, “Max Blecher is an obsessive saboteur of the breach between two seemingly irreconcilable positions: revulsion and lust.”