Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who’s been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)
The nominees for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner fiction award have been announced. The books in the running are Millions Hall of Famer A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Egan profiled at The Millions); The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Eisenberg profiled at The Millions); National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon; Model Home by Eric Puchner (one of our “20 More Under 40“); and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson (Brad Watson’s Year in Reading 2009).
“Ocean Vuong is that rare architect of accommodation, giving the most precarious situations or embarrassing of grievances of our culture a sound environment in which they can thrive. As he kisses and tucks the parents in their beds, he sets out from the wreckage of his past towards a hard-won horizon of blunder and wonderment.” Jeff Nguyen reviews Vuong’s newest poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
We’ve been discussing the changing nature of the English language a lot here this week (from the rise of public English to the acceptance of “like”), but if there is one thing that’s consistent in language, it’s the word “huh.” Linguists have studied 31 languages that all contain the interjection, making it one of the first universal words.
“Perhaps I will just go underground and live a quiet life of desperation. I’ve heard mumblings about a place called ‘Social Media Manager.’ It seems like a nice place where all people my age go for a while. Just until things start to make sense again.” Nobody knows the throes of existential angst quite like a twenty-something. Here’s a plea for help from one such twenty-something over at McSweeney’s.
If you haven’t already, meet Coeur de Pirate, the beautiful and charming Quebec singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin. Her sound’s somewhere between Françoise Hardy and Icelandic band Seabear. Here’s the video for “Comme des Enfants” and here’s a fan-made video for “Printemps” (my favorite C de P song).
While makers of the graph admit that it’s no substitute for a real poll, according to a heatmap of political books purchased on Amazon in the United States, conservative books are more popular than their left-wing rivals. Another heatmap of note: a firm tracked the use of the F-bomb on twitter over the course of a day to see where America’s foulest mouths are concentrated.
Haven’t heard of Teffi? You can blame that one on the Bolsheviks. The early-20th-century Russian poet, playwright and journalist, whose fans included (oddly enough) both Vladimir Lenin and Tsar Nikolai, had to flee a Moscow in turmoil to avoid persecution as a dissident. Now, several publishers are reprinting her memoir of exile, for which The New Statesman has details and a short biography.