The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
The Guardian asked a bunch of authors, including Hilary Mantel, Geoff Dyer, and Ian Rankin, which books they “regularly reread and which novels they are desperate to unlock the secrets of.” Check out John Banville’s abiding fixation on the works on F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“Even with such apparently juicy material, blithe self-exposure quickly grows dull. Their mutual trust comfortably established, Marsha, Emily, and Vincent unleash endless confession, allowing one another to stand in for the analysts they aren’t seeing over the summer. Nobody has to coax anything out of anyone.” On the age of social media and the novel Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz.
“A good translation, Han’s subconscious seems to suggest, is a living, breathing thing, which must be understood on its own terms, discovered from beneath the great white sheet.” The New Yorker explores Han Kang‘s novels and the complex nature of translation. From our archives: The Millions review of Kang’s The Vegetarian and an essay on what gets lost (and transformed) in translation.