The Russian Ministry of Culture has come under fire recently after accusations were levied by the Russian Writers’ Union of some 500 books having been removed from libraries by authorities in the Komi republic–and another fifty allegedly incinerated in the process. Most of these were textbooks published with money from the Soros Fund, run by hedge fund billionaire and very vocal Putin critic George Soros. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture has denied the accusations, stating that “if any books are declared ‘extremist’ through a court proceeding, they are put into the special list of the ministry of justice and immediately withdrawn from libraries. However, even in this case books are not destroyed, they are just not lent out to readers.”
“But where Smiley condescended, others were enthralled. Salmon Rushdie waxed lyrical, John Updike found it ‘stunning,’ Susan Sontag hosted him at dinner parties. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dubbed him, simply, ‘the Master’ – high praise from the founder of magical realism, but Kapuściński seemed to one-up Garcia Marquez by injecting magic into real politics, and elucidating thereby the human tension and bewilderment connected to power that traditional journalism left hidden.” Ryszard Kapuściński: novelist? Journalist? Or something else entirely?
Former Brat Packer Molly Ringwald makes her literary debut with When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories this week. Also out this week, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by comedy writer turned novelist Maria Semple, The St. Zita Society by Edgar Award-winner Ruth Rendell, and, in non-fiction, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall.
Eve Bowen takes a trip to “Gorey Preserved,” an exhibition of “nearly every edition of every work published by [Edward] Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, etchings, posters, and design ephemera,” on display at Columbia University until August 10th. Those unable to attend need not fret—Bowen walk readers through a history of the prolific illustrator’s work and includes plenty of links to his drawings online.
“I don’t want to write ‘funny’ books where we all have to laugh our heads of all the time. The humor should come from behind, where we don’t expect it. And the life of a well-known writer is something you can laugh about quite easily.” On the occasion of his new novel Dear Mr. M, our own Claire Cameron interviews Herman Koch over at Salon.
“It’s easy to attribute genius to a dead man, a legendary philanderer, liar and self-mythologizer who died beautiful and curly-haired. But ‘What About This’ is an authentic outpouring like a warm river in full flood; you get swept off the bank and its languid physicality destroys you.” On Frank Stanford’s Collected Poems.