As part of its 2013 literary awards, the PEN American Center will grant nearly $150,000 to writers, editors, and translators through sixteen different awards and fellowships, and for the first time ever they’ve decided to publish their shortlist online. Among the finalists is Sergio De La Pava, whose novel A Naked Singularity is up for the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for a debut work. You might recall our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s profile of De La Pava last summer, and you can catch a glimpse of the author’s next book on our Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Half-meme, half-myth, 'Slender Man' came to us from the same internet that brought LOLcat, doge, and Rule 34. After the surreal stabbing of a 12-year-old girl by two other children claiming they were acting on his behalf, this particular story has taken on a tragic resonance. In The Semiotic Review, Jeffrey Tolbert argues that Slender Man took hold because of the documentary nature of internet 'evidence'. As one Something Awful blogger put it, "Even if we don’t really believe in [Slender Man], we are cutting him out and sewing him together. We’re stuffing him with nightmares and unspoken fears. And what happens when the pictures are no longer Photoshops?" Very meta--and very scary, all over again.
"The day you follow me to that mound of oyster shells on the beach is the day I realize muscle and bone have been at war for a long, long time." The Saturday Rumpus essay by Ashley Inguanta is tender and poetic. Some past iterations are also well-worth a revisit.
Three cheers for Jim Crace, who just took home the 20th annual IMPAC Dublin Literary Award! If you remember our coverage of the shortlist, you'll know that the Harvest author beat out TransAtlantic author Colum McCann and Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.
"I don’t know how to give more of myself than a poem. Every poem I write is more accurate than anything I can ever tweet about it: my interior life, and its struggle and desire to converse with the exterior world." Tarfia Faizullah writes for Poetry's blog about why she doesn't want to explain her poems, the power of breath, and the frustrating implications of the question, "did it happen to you?"
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the 'first' authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. "But when ["The Joy Luck Club"] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said 'At last!' and there were people who said 'How dare she?' [...] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family."
"I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot." Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers' Recommends series.