“Utter devotion to the principle that distraction is Satan and writing is paramount can be just as poisonous as an excess of diversion,” writes Benjamin Nugent.
The 2010 National Book Awards were announced this evening. In fiction, Jaimy Gordon won for The Lord of Misrule; in nonfiction, Patti Smith won for Just Kids; in poetry, Terrance Hayes won for Lighthead; and for young people's literature, Kathryn Erskine won for Mockingbird.
Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran's essay on duels in Russian fiction.
"I took my son to Paris fashion week, and all I got was a profound understanding of who he is, what he wants to do with his life, and how it feels to watch a grown man stride down a runway wearing shaggy yellow Muppet pants." Michael Chabon writes a beautiful piece for GQ about going couturing with his son, Abraham. Pair with yesterday's essay by R. J. Hernández on fashion in literary fiction.
Elie Wiesel -- Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night -- passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here's a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel's essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe."
The final PEN Literary Award Longlists are posted today! Check out all of the lists here. Longlisters include Angela Flournoy (whom we interviewed, and who has written a Year in Reading for us), Marilynne Robinson (who is known for her singular vision), Renata Adler (about whom we have made six possibly true observations), and David L. Ulin (whose Year in Reading is here).