Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.
Elie Wiesel — Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night — passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here’s a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel’s essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
“After receiving a hundred of his letters, meeting him fifteen times, either at his apartment on Bilu Street or at a Tel Aviv café, and receiving too many calls from his cell phone to ever hope to return, I gave up trying to count the number of times that Yoram Kaniuk had died.” Nicole Krauss remembers her relationship with Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk, author of The Last Jew, in her obituary for The New Yorker.
“New houses get built, and new songs are sung … and I am the same, in the same trembling state.” Things are not going very well at the newly built Federico García Lorca center in Granada, Spain. Patience is wearing thin as members of the García Lorca Foundation continue tangling with government officials over control of the center, which is intended to house nearly 20,000 items — manuscripts, drawings, musical compositions and artworks valued at more than 20 million euros.