“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Another response to The New Yorker's 20 under 40 list, this time from Dzanc Books. Dzanc polled "nearly 100 independent publishers, agents, editors, bloggers and reviewers" and went through two rounds of voting to come up with 20 Writers to Watch: An Alternate List.
In every country except France, the copyright for The Little Prince expired at the end of last year, which explains why Turkish publishers chose the first two weeks of January to publish a huge number of new translations of the book. At the LRB blog, Millions contributor Kaya Genc writes about the flood of new editions, remarking on the significance of a passage about a Turkish astronomer.
Our humongous second-half preview will keep you busy planning your to-read list for the rest of the year, but there are some intriguing new books out this week too. Bonnie Jo Campbell's novel Once Upon a River is now out, as is Edie Meidav's Lola, California. (Don't miss the remarkable essay Meidav wrote for us recently.) Also new is the latest from Benjamin Black (John Banville's pen name), A Death in Summer, and Flip Flop Fly Ball, a collection of light-hearted and very clever baseball infographics from Craig Robinson (whose work also appears on his blog).
Edmund White considers writers’ obsession with New York City in the 1970s, with photography by Peter Hujar. As White puts it, that was “a place and a time in which, rich or poor, you were stuck together in the misery (and the freedom) of the place, where not even money could insulate you.”
Recommended reading: The Awl takes a look at the "attempt to create a completely logical, absolutely universal language," which goes about as well as you'd expect (read: not very).