Frank McNally investigates the “dark forces at work somewhere” that prevent Flann O’Brien from being honored with a Dublin bridge. Perhaps we should all start a grassroots campaign to send Mark O’Connell’s O’Brien tribute to Irish civil engineers.
"We get the book adaptations we deserve... We need to re-tell these stories over and over because each generation sees them in a different way, needs different things from them. We tell these stories again and again, their survival over time proof of their intrinsic value. People are writing new Zeitgeist-y things all the time of course, but we return to classics because the stories have endured for a reason." Sky Friedlander on the "Literary Period Piece."
With a huge winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, the Hopkinton library in Massachusetts did the only sensible thing: they erected a sign extolling the virtues of curling up with a book. What makes theirs unique is that, unlike many of their peers, they found a way to avoid the “warm yourself up” cliché. (Previously spotted on Reddit: “What are some good books to read [in jail?]”)
"It’s about what they call Native Excellence — and creating a path to it with its own expectations and standards, instead of relying on those established by white academia or publishing." BuzzFeed News wrote an in-depth feature on the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), which offers the US's first indigenous-centered MFA program, Terese Marie Mailhot (author of Heart Berries: A Memoir), and Tommy Orange (author of There There). Read our interview with Marcie Rendon about writing a representative novel for today's Native Americans.
Here at The Millions, we tend to focus on translation as a literary form, which often leads to debates over how much a translator can change the meaning of a text. However, the majority of translation in the world is far more functional, as it is in the case of basic European bureaucracy. In The Nation, Benjamin Paloff takes a broader look at movements from one language to another. Pair with: Barclay Bram Shoemaker on translating Mo Yan’s Frog.
New this week: Craig Thompson's long-awated follow up to Blankets is here. Stay tuned for our review of Habibi later this week. Also new: Neal Stephenson's Reamde, Aravind Adiga's Last Man in Tower, Joe McGinniss's much leaked exposé The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, and a new, posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein's poetry and drawings, Every Thing On It.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego." (For a taste of the Harper's essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann's connection to the Unabomber.)
New this week: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; The Blondes by Emily Schultz; The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe; Positive by David Wellington; This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen; When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett; Seven Devils by M.G. Miller; and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.