Three Percent is organizing a “World Cup of Literature” to coincide with the international soccer tournament’s June 12th beginning. The rules are simple: literature from each of the 32 countries in the actual World Cup will be put into a “32-book knock-out tournament,” and “each ‘match’ will pit two books against one another and will be judged by one of … fifteen illustrious judges.” Who’s your early favorite? (Bonus: “What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections?”)
The Table 4 Writers foundation, set up in the memory of the restauranteur Elaine Kaufman, recently chose the winners of its first round of $2,000 grants for writers. The winners will be honored March 7 at the New York Athletics Club, where Gay Talese will also be recognized with a lifetime achievement award.
New this week: Salman Rushdie’s much talked about memoir Joseph Anton, T.C. Boyle’s San Miguel, The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore, and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting prequel Skagboys. Also new this week: Paul Elie’s Reinventing Bach, Sylvie Simmons’s biography I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, and n+1 vet Marco Roth’s memoir The Scientists.
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I’ve been able to find…The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño’s (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions…Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)…The NBCC features Yu Hua‘s Brothers…Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt…Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez‘s “inventive and intricately plotted” The Informers…The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.