Today, stuff yourself on envy and/or nostalgia for the NYC literary life. First, whet your appetite on the New Yorker’s gorgeous illustrations of notable bookstores, including one “the size of a luxurious Park Avenue closet.” Continue to a responsible main course essay on Choire Sicha, The Awl, and the Brooklyn loft building where it was founded and resides: a place that is “pleasant” but “a little dumpy, too, because that’s sort of our MO.” For dessert, savor Erin Loeb’s personal essay on leaving New York, and finish with a fittingly varied cheese course of other writers also saying goodbye.
“‘There is almost no work, within the vast range of literature and science,’ [Thomas Jefferson] wrote in an 1874 report, ‘which may not at some time prove useful to the legislature of a great nation.’ Thus the Library Of Congress’s mandate expanded: it would acquire anything and everything of importance … By the late 19th century, the LOC had become a kind of national brain trust, a heritage of information that aspired to timelessness.” This piece on the Library of Congress and its internet progress (or lack thereof) is fascinating and thorough. Go and spend some time with the digital archive, there are only around seven million gigabytes of information for you to thumb through.
It’s “Bulgaria Week” at Granta, and you can celebrate by reading two of Ivan Landzhev‘s poems, a short story by Rayko Baychev, a piece by Georgi Tenev, and many more. In case that isn’t enough, however, FiveChapters has posted Miroslav Penkov‘s “Makedonija,” and he has a short essay on the FSG Work in Progress site.
2012 could be the year that we get to know Sergei Dovlatov, and our own Sonya Chung may have played a role. Her 2009 piece on the forgotten Russian humorist helped land one of his stories in PEN America. Soon we started seeing Dovlatov mentioned everywhere, and last year, Counterpoint published The Suitcase, and now The Zone will be released this week. Other new releases this week: An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer, Heft by Liz Moore, and The Evening Hour, a debut novel by Carter Sickels.
Tim Parks’s review of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian has some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of reviewing translation, but it also takes some shots at the novel and its proponents: “Looked at closely, the prose is far from an epitome of elegance, the drama itself neither understated nor beguiling, the translation frequently in trouble with register and idiom. Studying the thirty-four endorsements again, and the praise after the book won the prize, it occurs to me there is a shared vision of what critics would like a work of ‘global fiction’ to be and that The Vegetarian has managed to present itself as a candidate that can be praised in those terms.” Here’s a Millions review of Kang’s Man Booker International prize-winner.
For the first time in the history of The Morning News’ Tournament of Books, the longlist of all the titles under consideration has been published. From these titles, 16 will emerge for the literary throwdown in March.