Among Haruki Murakami’s many significant literary achievements is the fact that the author has – since the 1990s – become “responsible for triggering and fueling the Japanese literature boom in South Korea.” Indeed, by “creat[ing] bonds of shared emotions and literary sensibilities among tens of millions of people with different cultural and historical backgrounds,” writes Yoon Sang-In, “Murakami’s literary works have emerged as a great cultural asset that contributes to stability in [the East Asian] region.” (Bonus: Murakami’s latest book – which will be published in the States in 2014 – is flying off the shelves in Japan.)
“Ageists who want to fault millennials for the continual decline in literary reading are wrong to do so. Across the board, there wasn’t much considerable variation in the amount literature age groups read. Everyone is hanging out in the 39–49% range.” Is America in the midst of a literary recession? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 2015 marked the first year in 33 cycles of research that the percentage of adults who read literature had dropped below 45% to a dismal 43%.
Claudia Rakine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which won the Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was included in our own list of “Nine Books for the Post-Ferguson Era,” has been adapted for the stage, and previews are beginning in Los Angeles. Graywolf, the independent press behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams and On Immunity: An Inoculation, has interviewed the playwright behind the adaptation about the project and his process. As he explains it, “what makes the book—and the theatre piece—unique is that they expose and illuminate the small, sometimes unintended, and unconscious acts of everyday racism. Subtle, insidious, soul-crushing.”
Linda Chavers pens an important letter to black girls everywhere. She writes, “I am giving you the prologue. You must go forward accepting and understanding that no one will ever do it as well as you do, and no one will ever tell you that you do it better than anybody else.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (as seen in our Book Preview; and excerpted here) is due to hit shelves early September, and everybody seems pretty excited about it. How excited? Well, the book will come with an “enhanced e-book” replete with multimedia features, and the publishers have also decided to create a pop-up version of Brokeland Records, one of the novel’s main settings.