“The internet teems with writerly advice, almost all of which suggests that creativity is served best by monasticism, a quiet life filled with pencils—but that kind of advice seems to take a very short view of history, overlooking the one classic way to rouse the capricious Muses: sexually transmitted disease.” According to The Hairpin, maybe it’s not an MFA you need, just syphilis. After all, it seems to have worked for James Joyce, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Oscar Wilde and many, many others.
In an effort to diversify the comics industry, Marvel’s latest superhero isn’t another white man in a cape but a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. Kamala Khan, alias Ms. Marvel, can change shape and will fight villains and her parents’ expectations when the series debuts in February. Pair with: Matt Madden’s history of American comics in six panels.
Urmila Seshagiri writes for Public Books about Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words in its original Italian. As she explains it, “the dual-language Italian-English format literalizes the very ‘separazione totale’ that is In altre parole’s subject, reminding us, page by page, of potential losses.” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions review of the book.
In honor of Women in Translation month, The Guardian asks 10 female translators and writers about the work that inspires them, with answers ranging from Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck to Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth, which we reviewed when it came out in the States. Pair with this survey of the work of Argentine writer Leila Guerriero.
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.