Joe Kubert died this week at the age of 85. Perhaps best known as the DC comics legend responsible for such characters as Sgt. Rock, Hawkman, Enemy Ace, and Tor, Kubert was also the founder of The Kubert School, the only accredited trade school for comic book artists in the country. You can check out a video of Kubert talking about digital comics over here.
Ebony has a brief list of “Six Caribbean Writers to Discover This Summer,” and it’s a nice complement to Fortnightly Review’s recent double-feature on Dominican poets Homero Pumarol and Frank Báez. I also recommend checking out Generación Año Cero, an online collection of sixteen short stories from a “movement of [Cuban] writers who began publishing in 2000.”
“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith‘s remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether “multiculturalism” is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith’s latest novel, Swing Time, here.
“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
Post-40 Bloomer Daniel Orozco won Stanford’s William Saroyan International Prize for Writing this week. His story collection, Orientation, beat out a murderer’s row of adversaries including Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and Miroslav Penkov’s East of the West: A Country in Stories. Check out excerpts or stories from all three writers here, here, and here, respectively.
Recommended Reading: On Carmen Balcells, “The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom,” in The New Yorker. Her authors called her “Big Mama” after Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s queen of Macondo. She worked with many of the authors included on our Latin American Nobel Candidates list.
For most people, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is the beginning and end of mafia books, the sole notable entry in a sparse and little-known genre. That’s why it’s helpful that Roberto Dainotto, in The Guardian, published this list, which includes The Godfather, Eric Hobsbawm’s Primitive Rebels, and Alexander Stille’s Excellent Cadavers, among other picks.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”