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.
“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.
In Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall talks about the legendary accomplishments of ultrarunner Micah Tue, aka Caballo Blanco, or “the wandering White Horse of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.” Last month, Tue disappeared after embarking on a 12-mile run in Gila National Forest. Distraught, worried, and curious, McDougall set off on a hunt to track him down.
In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I’ve previously linked to Malcolm Harris‘ excellent n+1 piece on the “higher education bubble,” but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
Administrators at Cushing Academy in Massachusetts “have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.” (Thanks to Millions reader Laurie who asks, “So what happens when the power goes out?”)