Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
The Morning News has announced the list of judges and, more importantly, the books in contention for the 2011 Tournament of Books. Yours truly is among the judges again this year and very excited for the action to get underway.
Some amateur biologists are at work replacing lamps with bio-luminescent trees and flowers, reports Andrew Pollack for The New York Times. Meanwhile South Korean scientists have barking up an entirely different tree for the past two years. (I’m sorry for the pun; here’s an image of a glowing beagle to make amends.)
Richard Adams might be the only prominent author to make his name with a novel in which all of the main characters were rabbits. In The Guardian, he talks with Alison Flood about his classic Watership Down, explaining that he first came up with the plot while telling his children a story on a car ride.