The 2012 finalists for the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Awards have been anounced. In the “Novel” category, they are Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. The Costa site has lists of the nominees in all categories.
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
“And that might be the best way to understand Erdrich’s artistic project: as a celebration of beauty and a testament to the redemptive power of art — which, of course, includes storytelling.” Rumaan Alam interviews Louise Erdrich about her illustrious writing career for Buzzfeed Reader. Erdrich’s newest novel Future Home of the Living God was featured in our November Preview.
We lost another great one this week in Alan Rickman. He will be remembered forever by fans of the Harry Potter series as the maybe-evil, maybe-heroic professor Severus Snape, but the Potter series wasn’t Rickman’s only brush with the literary. Here are a few recordings of him reading from Shakespeare, Proust, and Thomas Hardy.
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
At The Rumpus, Shawn Andrew Mitchell reviews Dark Lies the Island, the new short story collection by the Irish writer Kevin Barry. Mitchell quotes a number of the book’s more interesting idioms and perceives “an impolitic decadence to how Barry couples his words.” (Related: we interviewed Barry a few weeks ago.)