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.
Over at The New Yorker, Hilton Als writes about Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Prince, Cecil Taylor, Octavia Butler, and time travel. He writes, “Toward the end of the film, [Beyoncé] moves further back into the past and examines her roots, we see any number of sharply dressed women sitting in the natural world, talking among themselves. This will remind readers of that extraordinary scene in Beloved, when the elder commands those who have gathered in a clearing to love their hands, themselves—because if they don’t, who will?”
“The Dares. We’d been at them all summer: making each other do stuff, alone or together, just for the fun of it. Girls like us, with high GPAs and not a single boy looking our way, needed a little danger to get us through the summer.” Our own Edan Lepucki has a short story, “Ambulance of Boys,” on Storychord.com.
Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says “almost blackmail” readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
Where The Wild Things Are, the beloved children’s story written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, arrives in US theaters in cinematic form this Friday, October 16th; see the trailer here. The excellent Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) directs.
Doors of Perception author Aldous Huxley requested a dose of LSD as he succumbed to laryngeal cancer in 1963. Three weeks later, Huxley’s widow, Laura Archera, wrote a letter describing the experience (“the most beautiful death”) to her brother-in-law. Today the prescription of psychedelic drugs to terminally ill patients is less uncommon than you might expect.
The Millions is delighted to welcome new staff writer Marie Myung-Ok Lee, whose first piece for the site publishes today. Marie is the author of Somebody’s Daughter and a novel about medicine forthcoming from Simon and Schuster. You may have seen Marie’s excellent writing in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues. She teaches fiction at Columbia.