This week has been full of news about unorthodox children’s book authors. First, there was Keith Richards’s picture book, and now an Australian academic claims that Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung wrote children’s books, too. “I was astounded that children’s books (purportedly) written by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were vastly more readable than one would expect from any political leader in the democratic west, still less a severe authoritarian,” doctoral student Christopher Richardson said.
As of this morning, the 2014 IMPAC Dublin longlist is out, and the titles that made the final cut are an eclectic assortment. The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (which we reviewed) made the cut, as did The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (which won the Pulitzer earlier this year) and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (which won the Booker Prize).
As titles go, it’s hard to get more straightforward than England and Other Stories, the new collection by Graham Swift. In the Times, Michiko Kakutani provides her verdict, lauding Swift for his ability to paint “vistas as panoramic as those in the stories of Alice Munro.”
From The Things They Carried to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, veteran literary fiction has always been popular, yet women are almost nowhere to be found in war literature. At The New York Times, Cara Hoffman argues that leaving women out of combat literature makes returning from war even more isolating. “They would be made visible if we could read stories that would allow us to understand that women kill in combat and lose friends and long to see their children and partners at home.”
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to take Kathryn Schulz’s book recommendations. However when she refers to something – in this case J.M. Ledgard’s Submergence – as “the best novel I’ve read so far this year,” you really ought to listen up. By the time she invokes Philip Gourevitch, Anne Carson, W. G. Sebald, and John Le Carré in her review of that book, you ought to be reaching for your wallet.
I’m not that into ballet, but if I had to be, I’d be into 1,000 frame-per-second footage of German ballet dancers prancing around to a dance-y remix of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.”
Last week, popular science fiction author John Scalzi wrote a contentious (but necessary) blog post that likened the lives of straight white males to “the easiest difficulty setting” in the “videogame” known as life. While comments on the original post had to be closed due to uproar, the piece was reposted to Kotaku where the discussion rages on.