Are we now living in a golden age of the uncanny? The Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour suspects that we are, and she also suspects that our historical moment, populated as it is with alienating developments and surreal art, is key to understanding the work of Helen Oyeyemi. In the Times, Khakpour reviews Oyeyemi’s new novel. (You could also read both writers’ Year in Reading pieces.)
Implicit in a lot of the discussions about how negative a book reviewer can be is a question of utility: is a book review an act of public service or a work of art in itself? In the Times, James Parker and Anna Holmes debate the purpose of the review. Sample quote: “I’d argue that a majority of the reading public doesn’t necessarily benefit from the sorts of reviews for which artistry is the point.” You could also read our own Matt Seidel’s hypothetical worst review ever.
In another excellent essay from LARB’s new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.
Three Percent crunches the numbers on all the translated fiction and poetry published in the U.S. in 2009. The overall numbers were down in 2009 from 2008. The top language to be translated? Spanish, followed by French, German, Arabic, and Italian. (Thanks, Laurie)
“Imagine a society in which money has been banished. A society in which you would be arrested if you wear eyeglasses, if you wear ties, or if you speak a foreign language.” The Coffin Factory‘s Randy Rosenthal takes a look at Rithy Panh’s The Elimination, an autobiography focused on his adolescence during the reign of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge.