“Despite a glut of English translations (well over a hundred, by my count),” writes Dante scholar Robert Pogue Harrison, “New versions of the entire [Divine Comedy] poem or individual canticles continue to appear in rapid succession—six in the last decade alone.” Over at the New York Review of Books, he investigates three of the latest: Dan Brown’s Inferno, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno, and Clive James’s Divine Comedy.
What happens when a literary fiction writer tackles YA? If that writer is Sherman Alexie, he produces an award-winning book that rivals the quality of his books in other genres. At the Ploughshares blog, Annie Cardi writes about writers who’ve made this transition, including Alexie, Roddy Doyle and Louise Erdrich. You could also read our survey of high school students on the best YA books of 2013.
“‘There’s no success like failure,’ Bob Dylan once sang – but he couldn’t have envisaged the international notoriety that bad art would achieve in the digital age. Mark O’Connell’s Epic Fail gleefully hops genres and centuries in a quest to understand our obsession with lameness. Clever, profound, bitingly funny, it’s a brilliant analysis from one of the smartest new critics around.” — Paul Murray, author of Skippy Dies
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.
“Is This a Golden Age for Women Essayists?” Cheryl Strayed and Benjamin Moser debate in this week’s The New York Times‘s Bookends column. Pair their piece with Anne Boyd Rioux‘s Millions article examining gender equity and lack thereof in nonfiction writing.