Granta has a new series in which authors explain how they arrived at successful opening sentences. In the latest installment, Colombian author Héctor Abad links the brain chemistry that inspired him to write his chosen sentence with the chemistry that inspired him to fall in love with his wife.
Anne Carson has a new story in this week’s issue of The New Yorker, about swimming and its discontents. As she puts it, “People think swimming is carefree and effortless. A bath! In fact, it is full of anxieties.” Pair with her first published short story in the January issue of Harper's.
On January 25th, if you're in New York City, you could do worse than to listen to a handful of New York Magazine editors discuss non-fiction storytelling. The event is being held in conjunction with Longreads and Housing Works Bookstore Café.
In 2013, Mo Yan became China’s first resident Nobel Laureate in Literature, which prompted a huge swell of interest in his books in the West. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews Frog, his latest novel to get an English translation. Sample quote: “Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, says everything he needs to about the Cultural Revolution with a scene in which Tadpole and other schoolboys eat coal and claim to find it delicious.” You could also read Alan Levinovitz on modern Chinese literature.
"The last line of Saul Bellow's 'A Single Dish' is nothing like poetry. I can’t tell you what any single one of those words means. Imagine you’re a lexicographer and you have to define the word that, or how. And on top of this, there’s none of Bellow’s typical play with rhythm and language—it’s almost a non-sentence. And yet, when I get to it in the story, I weep." Ethan Canin at The Atlantic on how Saul Bellow packs so much emotion into a single sentence. Here are a couple Bellow-related Millions links for your perusing pleasure.
Two Sides of the Book Biz in Britain: A small press specializing in works in translation is seeing success thanks to uniquely personal approach... while the big presses are teaming with supermarket chains in a race to the bottom.