Amid recent revival of sectarian conflicts in Ireland, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney said he believes there is “never going to be a united Ireland.” He went on to ask, “Why don’t you let them (loyalists) fly the flag?”
Throughout the 80s and 90s journalists turned hip hop into a literary movement. Pitchfork dives into that time and explores their legacy and impact on journalism and other literary forms. "Eager to extend the outer boundaries of their creativity, many of these writers would go on to ink novels, memoirs, short stories, scripts, and poetry, much of which stayed true to the language and attitude of hip-hop, as though their words were drafted to the sound of a boom-bap beat. It all added up to a low-key literary movement that writer and activist Kevin Powell has dubbed, 'The Word Movement.'" Includes a great reading list at the end.
USA Today is running an excerpt of Denis Johnson's much buzzed about new doorstop Tree of Smoke.The New Yorker Food Issue, to my mind the highlight of the New Yorker publishing year, has arrived. Somehow I look forward to this one as much as I did the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue when I was twelve. Much of the good stuff isn't online, but you can get a taste of the food writing on offer with a series of short essays under theme "Family Dinner." Aleksandar Hemon, Gary Shteyngart, Nell Freudenberger, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Sedaris, Anthony Lane, and Donald Antrim are on the menu.
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today's divisive concept of cultural elitism: "Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party."
According to the Times, The Guardian and other sources, Things Fall Apart author Chinua Achebe has died. Last October, we published a review of his final book, There Was a Country, which you might want to reread as a first step to considering his legacy. (You could also check out our piece on Things Fall Apart.)
Year in Reading alum Jacqueline Woodson has been named the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Gene Luen Yang was the previous ambassador. The program is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the official ceremony is January 9th. Congratulations Jacqueline!
“There are two extreme views about punctuation … the first is that you don’t actually need it because it’s perfectly possible to write down what you want to say without any punctuation marks or capital letters and people can still read it youdontevenneedspacesbetweenwordsreally. The second view is that punctuation is essential, not only to avoid ambiguity but also because it ‘shows our identity as educated people.’” Here is Adrienne Raphel from The New Yorker with a history of punctuation in the internet age.