“That little book had such an impact. It changes the course of history. When you think about how sheer accident can change so much, it’s breathtaking.” A set of Luo-language books written by President Obama’s father are up for auction until today, reports The New York Times. Written for the East African Literature Bureau,“the series uses the character Otieno, the Wise Man to offer advice on farming, healthy eating habits and other topics.” Pair with our own Janet Potter on reading presidential biographies.
Could James Baldwin be America’s greatest essayist? Ta-Nehisi Coates believes so — at The Atlantic, he argues that The Fire Next Time shows Baldwin committing “amazing acts of intellectual and emotional courage.” (Related: Buzz Poole paid tribute to Baldwin back in 2008.)
Recommended Reading: “Ursula’s Curse,” an excerpt from a forthcoming Eugene Lim novel. The piece’s protagonist seems less concerned with the end of his life (and maybe the human race) than he is with remembering an artist who tried to reach “a limit to the art market’s baseness.”
Is hardcover the new vinyl? Over at The Literary Hub, Yahdon Israel argues for the irreplaceable magic of tactility and print books: “There’s something gratifying about being able to underline a sentence or write a response in the margin of a book, knowing with certainty that it will be there later. I can’t get that guarantee from a phone. My data could be hacked, a new upgrade could wipe its memory, my battery could die mid-sentence and cause me to lose everything I’ve typed. They say that what goes up into the Cloud must come down, but ‘they’ can’t always be trusted—least of all with the things I value most, my books.”
“For years, growing up, I was obsessed with the thought; among my earliest memories is the desire, at age three or four, to run in front of an oncoming bus. Not because I wanted to see what would happen, but because I was sure I knew what would happen: I wouldn’t have to live any longer. I suspect there may be a suicide gene.” Clancy Martin tackles a perennially touchy subject.
“I find it amusing that people think trying to read a book in a language you do not understand is the most boring activity in the world. If you are interested in how literature works, these things are interesting.” On Lydia Davis‘s interest in learning to read Norwegian literature and writing at the end of the world, from the newly-launched Lit Hub.