Think you know your Arthur Conan Doyle from your Agatha Christie? This week, The Guardian quizzes you on the book covers of classic crime novels. In case you missed it, previous weeks featured science fiction and literary classics.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Junot Diaz, whose novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, has been deemed “un-patriotic” and “anti-Dominican” by the Dominican Republic’s consul in New York City. Diaz had been working in Washington with Haitian-born writer Edwidge Danticat in the hopes of urging the U.S. government to take action against the abhorrent treatment of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic.
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov’s Lolita “correspond thematically to the novel,” blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
“Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.” Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.