The By the Book series at the Times has produced some pretty great entries, but we have a feeling that Colson Whitehead may go down as its best interviewee. Why do we say this? Well, it might have something to do with his weeping fit in a Chelsea Dallas BBQ, prompted by an early scene in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
We tend to take it for granted that the world needs more translated works. The dictates of common wisdom state that reading translated works help us understand the reality of foreign cultures. But what if translation, which erases at least some nuance from works of literature, instead “sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption”? In The Irish Times, Michael Cronin reviews a recent book by NYU professor Emily Apter.
“Post-truth” has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert’s “truthiness” was funny.
The Digital Reader rounded up a list based on Amazon’s end of year book sales. Some interesting factoids: Dan Brown‘s Origin: A Novel was the most read and gifted book this holiday season, and Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale was the year’s most borrowed book from Prime Reading. Pair with: our cheat sheet for Kindle (and other e-reader) owners.
If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”
Book Riot offers a step-by-step guide to making your own book covers out of paper bags. Not saying this was a thing we did as kids, particularly when jacket design didn’t meet expectations – a certain Dover edition of the Francis Hodgson Burnett classic A Little Princess comes to mind – but not not saying that either.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program, the school’s literary magazine – Route Nine – gathered work from over 80 alumni to create a special Alumni Omnibus issue. The collection just went online recently, and it’s tremendous.