Though it’s long been known as the gentleman’s sport, tennis seems to be slipping a little bit in its cultural refinement. Melville House has a blog post on the reading habits of elite players, and they’re spotty at best, though Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and Camus are all mentioned, as are J.K. Rowling, Tolkien and, simply, “newspapers.”
Asymptote, a new international journal of literary translation, is up for free online and comes packed with ear candy. Though all the content is translated into English, an audio recording of the authors reading their work in the original language accompanies many of the pieces.
David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: "It's a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird." The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote "Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist ... did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
Who better to review a new sci-fi book than Ursula Le Guin? The Guardian editors couldn’t think of a better candidate either. She reviewed the new story collection Three Moments of an Explosion by the English writer China Miéville. Sample quote: “Pastiche, when present, is so skilful that it can go unnoticed.” You could also read our own Bill Morris on discovering Miéville's work.
At Bookforum, Alexander Benaim reads the latest novel by Jess Row, which I wrote about as part of our most recent book preview. The novel poses a charged, intriguing question: what would happen if it were possible to change your race? (It might also be a good time to read the author’s Year in Reading entry along with our own Mark O'Connell's review of the novel at Slate.)