“What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed.” At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
In the Times, Virginia Heffernan bemoans how technology and the economic struggles of the publishing industry are leading to an increasing number of typos in books. However: “The Pollyannish upside to writerly inattention and cutbacks in publishing, then, is that readers sometimes see more of the human writer, and less buff and polish.”
“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly.” Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, has published a front-page letter to Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook censored an iconic image from the Vietnam war. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a naked nine-year-old Kim Phúc running away from a napalm attack was deleted from a post about seven images “that changed the history of warfare.”
The premier English-language translator of modern Chinese fiction, Howard Goldblatt, says flatly that Western audiences don’t read Chinese books. However, with last year’s Nobel Prize win for Mo Yan (and the rave review his novel Pow! received in the Times), Goldblatt and other scholars are hoping that could change.
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
In his profile of Roger Angell, Sridhar Paddu offers this astute observation from Charles McGrath: “Which is the greater—Roger the writer or Roger the editor? It’s kind of a toss-up.” Bonus: Angell’s piece about Don Zimmer, who just passed away this week, is well worth your time.