“Born Guan Moye, he chose his pen name—“Don’t Talk”—to honor his mother’s caution against talking too much and in sardonic recognition of his failure to heed her warning. Yet I have been struck by his quiet and unassuming presence at literary conferences in Beijing, where he offered kind encouragement in private meetings but evinced a shy persona in public.” On the contradictions of last year’s Nobel laureate, Mo Yan.
The longlist for Canada’s 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize has been announced. Notable omissions: “Ilustrado by Montreal’s Miguel Syjuco, which won the Man Asian Literary Award before it was even published; Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel’s first novel since his breakthrough Life of Pi; and, most notably, Room by Emma Donoghue, which was recently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.”
When did Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell traces the history of the phrase. “Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to ‘think different’ or ‘work smarter’ or ‘just do it.'”
After reading through two new biographies of Sylvia Plath — American Isis and Mad Girl’s Love Song — Terry Castle concludes that “nothing about her life or legacy seems wholesome or resolved.” (Related: our own Hannah Gersen talking with Pain, Parties, Work author Elizabeth Winder.)