According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
“The stories that dominated the serious magazines and journals seemed to share a flat fireless quality… Characters dropped half out of love, or endured a minor crisis, or just wandered around treasuring their sense of dismay about, you know, the fallenness of the world.” In case you missed it: Slate’s review of Stuart Dybek‘s new collection of stories, Paper Lantern, also delivers an acerbic take on the modernist past and current “revitalization” of the American short story.
Joseph L. Badaracco has been assigning works of literature to his business ethics students at Harvard in order to “help [them] develop literature skills.” The Questions of Character author believes, “literature lets you see leaders and others from the inside. You share the sense of what they’re thinking and feeling.”
The Tournament of Books team over at The Morning News have posted an in depth commentary on this year’s withheld Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Wall Street Journal asks a handful of book critics to name the books they thought should’ve won. And over at Moby Lives, Nick Davies has rounded up the statements made by the jury in response to the brouhaha. Lev Grossman, on the other hand, outlines why he’s totally okay with the board’s decision. And of course, we’ve got links and excerpts for all the finalists over here.