“One night, in the spring of 2011, [Norm] Macdonald mentioned his love of literature, and someone suggested he start a Twitter book club. A new account was created (@NormsBookClub) and the club was born. … And then things get a little weird.”
While working with Australia’s Lajamanu Aboriginal population in remote sections of the Tanami Desert, linguist Carmel O’Shannessy identified “a [new] language system, independent of … other languages” spoken by about 300 people. Since her initial discovery in the late 1990s, O’Shannessy has studied the language and its grammatical structure, and now her findings have been published this month in the journal Language (PDF).
Attention New Yorkers: The 2010 PEN World Voices Festival kicks off today with Claire Messud, Lorraine Adams, and Norman Rush. Update: Audio of this stimulating discussion of diversity in literature is available at WNYC. And it looks like many World Voices events will be streaming live at the PEN Website, accessible whether you hang your hat in New York or Nome (or Wasilla). Tonight catch Patti Smith, Rodrigo Frésan, and Salman Rushdie.
My student and friend Paria Kooklan pens a guest piece at the Vroman’s Blog about the popularity of novels about Iran–and penning her own. “I mean, the American public has a short attention span – Iranians are hot right now, but I can’t help wondering when the trend is going to die out. Next year, there may well be another trendy nationality: Iraqis, maybe. Or Tibetans. Or…I don’t know – the Bhutanese? Anything is possible.”