In addition to the Jewish refugees who emigrated to North America in the years leading up to World War II, there was also a sizable contingent who fled East. In particular, an estimated 30,000 refugees journeyed to Shanghai between the years of 1933 to 1941. With them, the refugees brought all sorts of valuables, heirlooms, and artifacts. One family brought over 2,000 books. Now, over 70 years later, one Shanghai family is asking for help locating the owner of that library. Part One; Part Two. (h/t Bint Battuta)
"Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will." It's too bad more people haven't had a chance to take a look at Carl Sagan's 8-rule "Baloney Detection Kit."
Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, "He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops." Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.
The Great Gatsby, that quintessential American classic, was first published 90 years ago today. Over at Scribner Magazine authors ranging from Anthony Doerr to Christopher Beha remember their first encounters with the novel, and Time has republished its original review of the novel.
“Oh, speaking of dust, I am pretty sure I have a dust allergy. A debilitating, truly severe dust allergy. But I can’t dust this place, because I have to leave everything as it was that fateful day, untouched, preserved, still, because I am crazy and should be on disability. Also, between us, you see this place? It has like 30 rooms. I mean, who can clean that?” Miss Havisham (of Great Expectations) has issues with the denial of her disability claim.
New this week: Loitering by Charles d’Ambrosio; The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck; Windows on the World, a collection of Paris Review essays illustrated by Matteo Pericoli (Karl Ove Knausgaard's contribution is excerpted here); The Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas; A Woman Without a Country by Eavan Boland; Love Poems by Bertolt Brecht; and Family Furnishings, a new selection of short stories by Nobel laureate Alice Munro. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.