A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, “even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes.”
“People are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that the characters they love and regard as people, real people, were made up by someone, especially if that someone is a woman.” Cassandra Clare, the author who began by writing fanfiction and went on to pen the wildly successful The Mortal Instruments series, talks about her work with Penelope Green.
The Common will be celebrating its first year of publication later this month at NYU’s Carter Journalism institute. The celebrations will include a reading from Stephen O’Connor and a performance by the Dog House Band, aka that literary rock group consisting of Sven Birkerts, James Wood, and other writerly musicians.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
“A lot of writers are big readers. Very often, when you’re writing your day’s work, something you write will remind you of something that you read. And the thing that you read shines a kind of light on the sentences that you’re writing. So I think it would be very hard to write without having read a great deal.” Listen to Salman Rushdie chat with Paul Holdengraber about poetry, film, and his latest project. Liam Hoare writes on the implications of Rushdie’s fatwa.
“Did you know that alcohol originally meant eyeshadow, clouds were rocks or that a moment once lasted precisely 90 seconds?” From The Guardian, 10 words that no longer mean what they used to. And if you enjoy that trip down etymology lane, you’ll probably also dig this week’s piece about the curse words of Charles Dickens.