In 1936, The Colophon, a now-defunct quarterly for book collectors, asked its readers to list ten authors “whose works would be considered classics in the year 2000.” Their first six answers hold up. The next four? Not so much.
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman’s The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline’s Player One is a “genre-busting,” pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.
Is the global literary marketplace changing the way that novelists write? Over at Public Books, Dora Zhang writes on Rebecca Walkowitz’s Born Translated and books that “appear simultaneously or nearly simultaneously in multiple languages.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
Cory Arcangel‘s Working on My Novel is composed solely of tweets from people who (one is led to assume) are engaged in the singularly tragic enterprise of writing books that, unlike Working on My Novel, will take years to complete, yet won’t be published by Penguin or noticed by The Paris Review. Oh, the meta-irony. And now I’ve just honored it with a Curiosities post.
This week, Richard Ford published his first novel in a while to feature Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of his Pulitzer-winning book The Sportswriter. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling posits a through-line from Bascombe to a certain TV gangster, arguing that The Sopranos shares its view of manhood with Ford’s novels. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on Ford’s 2012 book, Canada.