November 16th marks the release of the new film version of Anna Karenina (written by Tom Stoppard), which you can watch the trailer for here. It might also be a good time to brush up on the novel itself.
“What is the value of a book cover if fewer and fewer people shop at bookstores?” Nicholas Blechman wonders about the purpose of the book cover at The New York Times Book Review, but he also rounds up some of the best covers of 2014, including the design for Eimear McBride‘s A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing (Millions review here, McBride’s “Year in Reading” here).
Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s moving speech at The Sunday Times Literary Awards in which he speaks about the resilience of literature and the necessity of keeping less-popular languages alive is now available online. (Here’s our handy guide to pronouncing the author’s name, in case you were too embarrassed to ask.)
“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
“At first, I didn’t realize that AlexanderIII was translating the book; I thought he was just a fastidious Russian reader with a loose command of the English language. It was fun to see people debating the meanings of my thoroughly worked-over phrases…Then I remembered that no Russian publisher had acquired the rights, and realized that AlexanderIII must be translating it for some kind of book-pirating outfit.” Over at The Atlantic, Peter Mountford recounts the experience of watching book piracy in action.