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 Big Friendly Giant is coming to the big screen. Steven Spielberg will direct a live adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG about a little girl and a friendly giant trying to stop his friends from eating children. If you had any doubt that Spielberg could bring sympathy to a mythical creature, he’ll be pairing up with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison again.
Out this week: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting; The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick; The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins; The Tower of the Antilles by Achy Obejas; Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco; and Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
A high school music teacher is trying his damnedest to establish an official state song for New Jersey, which is apparently the only state in America without its own anthem. If you’re curious, here’s a list of the 49 other states and their official, state-sanctioned musical accompaniments.
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright and posting essays about Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn — its selection from last week — and life without the NFL. Going Clear was a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and has been turned into a documentary by HBO.