The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
PEN America has announced the longlist for its 2017 Translation Prize, including Deborah Smith for Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (see our review here), Carlos Rojas for Yan Lianke’s The Explosion Chronicles, and Victoria Cribb for Sjón‘s Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was. (We profiled Sjón’s work at length a few years back!) The winner will be announced in February of 2017.
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.”
In a piece for Aeon, D. Watkins – who previously blew onto the scene with his Salon essay, “Too Poor for Pop Culture” – looks into “the two Baltimores” he has known. Tracing the city’s history back to the Civil War, he defines the city as “a place split on ideologies because it’s too south to be north and too north to be south.”
Despite recently winning the Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson writes a list of his favorite novels about failure for the WSJ: “This category is, of necessity, a crowded one. Novelists are drawn to failure. Those who prosper, or expect to prosper, in the world as it is have no need to re-imagine it.”
With the movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby slotted to come out next summer and Anna Karenina due out in late November, film critic Richard Brody looks back at some of his favorite movies based on literature and proposes what makes an adaptation successful.
California seems to have it all: Hollywood, the sun, vineyards, and more. Yet it doesn’t have a weekly magazine. California Sunday will change that by launching a magazine delivered on digital platforms daily and in local print newspapers every Sunday. Bonus: They’re hiring.