Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous releases may rival Tupac’s in quantity. Indeed, the author “sustains an interest in Latin American literature all by himself,” writes Robert Birnbaum. But what if you want to broaden your survey of Latin and South American literature? Well, luckily, Birnbaum’s got some recommendations for you.
Amidst all the sad tales of great bookstores going under, the Strand remains a fixture of the New York lit scene. At Vulture, Chris Bonanos explores the many reasons why the Strand is still afloat, among them the store’s increasing sales of new books. You could also read our own Janet Potter on her lifelong infatuation with bookstores.
“We always try to create the worst opinion of everything there is in the United States, as a response to what they have always done with us. The only difference is that we do not write falsehoods about the United States. I told you that we emphasize the worst things, that we omit things that could be viewed as positive, but we do not invent any lies.” This excerpted interview with Fidel Castro over at The Paris Review is enlightening for its candor and frankness.
Much linked elsewhere, Triple Canopy has published the first complete English translation of the Roberto Bolano’s 1999 speech accepting the Romulo Gallegos Prize.Keith Gessen of n+1 and All the Sad Young Literary Men has started a blog. People who like to make grand pronouncements about such things and/or snark about them are all aflutter. (via)Onward in snark, Tao Lin describes the “Levels of Greatness” for the American novelist. Spoiler alert: Philip Roth wins again. (via)Robert McCrum chronicles his ten years as The Observer’s literary editor in ten chapters, from “Chapter 1: New Blood: Zadie Smith” to “Chapter 10: The Kindle.”
“I thought it was going to be a short novel, that it was one person’s story. But I was wrong, because history is always shaping everything.” The New York Times reviews Marlon James‘s latest novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which we covered in our “Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview.”
“At the outset, Nair is in Sierra Leone to keep tabs on his old friend and uses the occasion to practice a little freelance extortion, stealing unspecified multinational secrets on a flash drive and sending them back to his girlfriend in Amsterdam. The first 50 pages are like a Johnsonian take on Graham Greene’s humid morality-play potboilers. Nair keeps meeting shifty European acquaintances and distrusting everything they say.” John Lingan reviews Denis Johnson’s new novel.
By the age of twenty-one, Eugene O’Neill had dropped out of Princeton, fathered a child and caught syphilis on a trip through South America. He was, in his own words, “the Irish luck kid,” blessed in a strange way with misfortune. Yet he went on to win a Pulitzer eleven years later. How did he do it? In the LRB, John Lahr reads a new biography of the playwright.