As the King James Bible turns 400 this year, it is perhaps more revered than read. That’s a shame, argue three new books, which contend that its cultural influence and literary merit are unsurpassed in the English language.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”
Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin's family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children's books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer's guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
In an effort to get consumers to think more consciously about the “human cost” of commercial sugar production, artist Kara Walker has installed “Subtlety,” a large-scale public sculpture in Brooklyn’s iconic Domino Sugar Factory. Meanwhile, Edwidge Danticat explores contemporary labor conditions in the Dominican Republic’s cane fields.
Take a vicarious trip to China via a special issue of Ninth Letter, a literary and arts journal published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Including work by authors Madelaine Thien and Khaled Al Khamissi, the issue grew out of a residency sponsored by Sun Yat-sen University's Center for English-language Creative Writing, the only such department of its kind in that country. Pair with this piece by Casey Walker about writing his novel Last Days in Shanghai, which is set in the boomtown of today's new China.
The Allen Ginsberg Estate supports a regularly updated blog called The Allen Ginsberg Project. I recommend reading it. Here’s a gem of a conversation between the late poet and a student over those delicious, sweet and cold plums in William Carlos Williams’s “This is Just to Say.”