“Perhaps it’s a sign that our literary culture is not quite so ailing that Smith managed to make a space for NW, to clear a third path, one that meanders through Willesden, through time, and through the mind.” Our own Emily M. Keeler on realism and Zadie Smith.
An illustration of why Cliffs Notes are never a substitute for the real thing.The Britannica Blog looks at "fun facts" about the 1,000 most popularly held books in libraries around the world, including this item: "Which author has the most works on the OCLC Top 1000 list? William Shakespeare (with 37 works). He is followed by Charles Dickens (16 works) and John Grisham (13 works)." Here's the full list where The Bible comes in at #1, the Census at #2, and Mother Goose at #3 (in 2,036 different versions and editions.) (via)Powell's is making a series of short documentaries about writers that will supplement and stand in for book tours. From the New York Times: "The British author Ian McEwan is the star of the first film, which is planned to run 23 minutes and will feature snippets from an on-camera interview with Mr. McEwan, as well as commentary from peers, fans and critics." The film is being put out to coincide with the release of his new novel, On Chesil Beach. (via)
“The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally. To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right." Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan has been named the new president of PEN America. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki's 2010 profile of Egan.
New this week are Ron Rash's The Cove, Brian Evenson's Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag's Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.