East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.
Year in Reading alumna and New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal writes about her childhood reading habits. Millions readers should take a keen interest in this write-up for a couple reasons: 1) it’s awesome; and 2) the other half of her “we” is our associate editor, Ujala Sehgal.
So you got a new Kindle for Christmas, and you’ve loaded it up with all our ebook recommendations? That’s great, but it may not be enough. Best to add a few ebooks to impress anyone who happens to come across your e-reader, just in case, and McSweeney’s has just the list.
“Between 2008 and 2014 there were 2,471 fiction translations published in the U.S. for the first time ever. Of those, 1,775 were written by men, compared to 657 by women, and 39 by men & women. In terms of percentages, female authors make up 26.6% of all the fiction translations published over the past seven years. I suspected going into this that there would be significantly more male authors published in translation than women, but I figured it would be more like a 60-40 split, not 71-27. That’s brutal.” Chad Post on the gender gap in literary translation.
So does literature really have the power to bring liberals and conservatives together? Probably not. Either way, this is still a fascinating study: “The ‘most startling result was this: it was conservative — not liberal — readers who are most active in producing this space of cultural compromise.’ Basically, within this sample size, conservative readers tended to exude more generous praise for ‘bridge books’ and did so with a vernacular considered to be ‘less heated or emotional.’ Grammatically, they also expressed ‘more complex thoughts.'”