The international popularity and utility of English doesn't show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn't address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, "[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view," or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by "a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation."
The Austen Project, launched last year, asks prominent contemporary writers to reimagine Jane Austen's classics in modern times. (Thus far, we've seen Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility and Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey.) In perhaps the most significant adaptation yet, Curtis Sittenfeld has announced that her Pride and Prejudice will feature a 39-year-old Jane Bennet. After all, Jane (23 in the original novel), is "pretty much teetering on the edge of spinsterhood."
“Love / is the only fortress / strong enough to trust to.” Mary-Kay Wilmers for the London Review of Books reviews Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore. In the book, Moore’s slightly-bizarre domestic life is examined with fairness and honesty alongside her impressive body of work. If poetry is your thing, check out our On Poetry column for more.
The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Anne Carson, author of Nox (reviewed by Jane Alison last year), has a new book out, Antigonick, in which the translator and poet collaborates with an artist and designer to produce an unconventional translation of Antigone. Unfortunately, Amanda Shubert calls it “the first book of Carson’s where … her scholarly impulse barricades textual meanings. Usually it provides a generous way in.” Yet despite its problems, Shubert notes there are still “moments of brilliance,” and indeed the act of “doing Sophocles as a graphic novel … is kind of ingenious.”
New this week is Julian Barnes' new collection of stories, Pulse. We also have new novels from Geraldine Brooks (Caleb's Crossing) and Jean Thompson (The Day We Left Home). There's also a new collection available from Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio (Mondo and Other Stories). And new in paperback: Millions Hall of Famer Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis.