The Atavist has been killing it lately. Last month, I was riveted by Joshuah Bearman’s outrageous (and completely true) story of one Brit’s attempt to bring a “Baghdad Country Club” to the city’s Green Zone. This month, “Mother, Stranger,” Cris Beam’s account of her abusive mother–a distant relative of William Faulkner–had me on the verge of tears.
Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
The Digital Reader rounded up a list based on Amazon’s end of year book sales. Some interesting factoids: Dan Brown‘s Origin: A Novel was the most read and gifted book this holiday season, and Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale was the year’s most borrowed book from Prime Reading. Pair with: our cheat sheet for Kindle (and other e-reader) owners.
“I have yet to publish a book. The reason for that is, in part, life gets in the way. There’s work and love and art and art usually comes last, (especially for we women writers). But for me, part of what weighs art down and keeps it in last place is overwhelming self-doubt.” In an essay for Electric Literature Lindsay Merbaum writes about writing, a crippling lack of confidence, and the connection between the two. Also included: that defining moment “when I first realized I was not The Shit.”
“Embrasser” means to hug and kiss in French, but the new literary journal of the same name is about embracing unique varieties of international French. Embrasser is a Louisiana-based literary translation journal that aims “to highlight and preserve varieties of French that have been marginalized,” founder Emily Thibodeaux said. The journal is accepting fiction poetry, nonfiction, and criticism submissions in English or Louisiana French for its first issue coming out during Mardi Gras 2014.