Comics specialist Dominic Umile checks out March: Book One, the first installment in a nonfiction graphic novel trilogy and biography of civil rights activist and current Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
“I have the impression that the shelves of new releases in US bookstores are becoming more globalized. They’re still not as international as those in bookstores in Rome or Paris or Mexico City or Buenos Aires, where there is a much higher percentage of books in translation. But I think works in translation are becoming much more visible.” Mexican author Álvaro Enrigue contends that trends in publishing mean we’ll enjoy ever-increasing bounties of translated work. See also: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
A new collection of non-fiction by Jonathan Franzen, Farther Away: Essays, is out today. Also out is Laurent Binet’s HHhH, from which we recently published some redacted scenes. Other new releases this week include Rosecrans Baldwin’s memoir Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down and Nobel laureate Herta Müller’s The Hunger Angel.
Recommended reading: Ben Shattuck spends a night and a day aboard a New England whaling ship in an attempt to better understand Ishmael’s (and Melville‘s) experiences, and combines Moby-Dick excerpts with his own accounts of life onboard in a piece for The Atlantic.
Last month, while traveling through Des Moines, Iowa, President Barack Obama had the chance to interview one of his favorite authors: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. The first part of the conversation was just published in the NYRB and the second part will appear in the next issue. Obama, who is a big fan of Robinson, had recently quoted her in his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.