In the wake of the fire that destroyed much of the manuscript collection at the Institut d'Egypte on Saturday, scores of pro-democracy protesters have told of their efforts to salvage books and other rare documents from the smoking ruins.
The book club has turned into a form of protest. Inspired by “The Standing Man,” the Turkish demonstrator who stood for six hours in a silent vigil, protesters are silently standing while reading books. The Al Jazeera photo-essay shows Nietzsche, Camus, and Orwell as popular picks.
Literary critic Amitava Kumar has written a personal essay for the Chronicle on his experience reading from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India, where the work has banned for 23 years. Read The Millions coverage of the festival here.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. "If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives." On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it's like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
"His books used to be ink on paper; now we have to squint through the cloud of the Ellroy Phenomenon." And the James Ellroy Phenomenon looks like it will only continue: the author has announced plans for a second L.A. Quartet, the first of which, Perfidia, comes out next week.
Joshua Cohen, author of the just-published meganovel Witz, dispenses provocations in The New York Observer: "The targets might be Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, Shalom Auslander... When I started this book, I wanted to sleep with their wives. By the time I finished, I wanted to sleep with their mothers."