Not only does China employ some two million censors to monitor microblogs and the internet, but the nation also has a formidable staff – both official and unofficial – to monitor literature and print publications. Indeed, reports Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times, “It is the editors at Chinese publishing houses themselves who often turn out to have the heaviest hands. ‘Self-censorship has become the most effective weapon,’ said the editor in chief of a prominent publishing house in Beijing … ‘If you let something slip through that catches the attention of a higher-up, it can be a career killer.’”
The 2012 Best Translated Book Award long list has been announced. Among the contenders in the fiction category are Edouard Levé for Suicide, reviewed on The Millions here; Mathias Énard‘s Zone, which our own Garth Risk Hallberg described as “the kind of book that can tie a critic in absolute knots“; and Jean-Philippe Toussaint‘s The Truth About Marie, which The Millions Staffer Mark O’ Connell called “a strange and unsettling novel that upholds its author’s status as one of the most exciting figures in contemporary fiction.” One of Chad Harbach‘s year in reading selections, Dezso Kosztolányi‘s Kornél Esti, also made the list.
The “David Mamet Appliance Center” has some predictably abrasive customer service representatives. Here is Peter McCleery for McSweeney’s imagining a hilarious and existentially hopeless exchange between customer and technician. The Millions has even more to satisfy your fictitious-Mamet fix: an imagined symposium with Mamet, Francine Prose, and James Wood among others.
“In the silence, there is solitude. In the solitude, there is silence. This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature.” Don DeLillo, author of White Noise, “reviews“ Taylor Swift‘s white noise for The Atlantic.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the possibilities for contemporary war literature, especially in light of the success of Phil Klay‘s Redeployment. Now Flavorwire considers “a crop of fiction that approaches the question of American intelligence, torture, and military intervention slantwise,” particularly Mark Doten’s The Infernal, which was included in our 2015 Book Preview.
Book Three of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle is out this week, as is a new novel by Millions contributor Emma Straub. Also out: The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner; The Untold by Courtney Collins; Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird; Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; and a new volume of the Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Penguin released a book trailer for the newest Thomas Pynchon novel in which a guy in a T-shirt that reads “I’m Pynchon” stands on a rooftop on the “Yupper” West Side and talks about his life. (To find out why I used the term “Yupper,” check out the recent New York mag piece on Pynchon that I wrote about last week.)