The Morning News has just launched a series on contemporary Russian literature. For this week’s installment Anna Starobinets provides an exerpt of her debut manuscript, An Awkward Age, and chats about her writing with Elizabeth Kiem. In the New Yorker, Sally McGrane profiles Boris Akunin, Russian writer of potboilers and political dissident.
Eileen Battersby profiled Declan Meade, the publisher, editor, and co-founder of Ireland’s Stinging Fly literary journal. The magazine, which just published its 43rd issue, has been credited with popularizing some of Ireland’s most significant contemporary writers.
Amazon has unveiled its “Kindle Singles” store. Says Amazon: “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length.” In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif “updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster.” Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.
“There is no divorcing the lack of diversity in the outdoors from a history of violence against the black body, systemic racism, and income inequality,” writes Rahawa Haile in her description of hiking the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, Haile documented her journey and the books she carried — books written by black authors. In a debrief interview, she explains her motivation: “I want[ed] to bring these books places no one likely has. I want[ed] to document where black brilliance belongs.”
As part of their 80th anniversary celebration, the Academy of American Poets recently revamped their website. The updated website now boasts such features as “geographically relevant information (such as local poetry events),” “interviews with renowned poets,” and “free lesson plans tailored for K-12 teachers.” Go take a look for yourself. I recommend starting with Sally Van Doren’s poem, “Thief.”
HTML Giant contributor Jimmy Chen has written a masterful and hysterical piece for McSweeney’s entitled “Raymond Carver’s OKCupid Profile, Edited by Gordon Lish.”
The 2012 finalists for the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Awards have been anounced. In the “Novel” category, they are Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. The Costa site has lists of the nominees in all categories.