“I would have been an abject failure in a writing program. I am not unteachable, but I am probably the only person who can teach myself. I don’t learn extremely well, formally. I wouldn’t even consider myself a very good reader. Maybe a slightly above average reader.” At The Morning News, Robert Birnbaum sits down with Charles Yu.
“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote “Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist … did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
The process of “Russification” is almost as old as Russia itself, yet to see it take shape in the present day can be quite distressing. In particular, Vladimir Putin’s recent proposal in Nezavisimaya Gazeta — in which the prime minister called for a “Russian canon” of literary works — has some people worried about its insidious potential for propaganda. Count Alexander Nazaryan among that group.
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.)