“There are so many cool things going on in Spokane now that I have this overwhelming urge to attend a tractor pull.” Jess Walter has written an addendum to his essay “Statistical Abstract for My Home of Spokane, Washington.”
The New York Times interviews Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate of the United States for National Poetry Month. They discuss black history, bringing poetry to the central and rural parts of the country and to those who are incarcerated and why poetry isn’t as popular among adults. “Listening to music and lyrics and watching movies, I think, uses a lot of the same muscles we use in reading and experiencing poetry — and yet we somehow forget that we have those when it comes to sitting down with a book of poems.” It’s a delight, happy Saturday!
East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.
If you didn’t like Elif Batuman‘s gut-punch to MFA writing (“Get A Real Degree”) in this issue of the London Review of Books, might I suggest Jenny Diski’s cudgeling of self-help lit in the LRB’s Diary essay?
For the first time ever, this year’s National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” winners are all women. Congrats to Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names, which was also just shortlisted for The Booker Prize), Amanda Coplin (The Orchardist), Daisy Hildyard (Hunters in the Snow), and Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back).
New this week: Moonglow by Michael Chabon; I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb; Morning, Paramin by Derek Walcott and Peter Doig; Selected Poems 1968-2014 by Paul Muldoon; and a new Richard Pevear translation of Alexander Pushkin’s complete prose. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.