According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
If there existed a trophy for the ugliest-looking but prettiest-sounding language, then the 721,700 living Welsh speakers would boast more championships than Alabama’s football team. Yes, the Welsh. They of the villages Llangefni and Llanfairfechan. (To say nothing of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.) Wouldn’t it be a shame for such a language to disappear? For writing in this language to stop being published? Stanford’s Cynthia Haven thinks so.
Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Out this week: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt; The Heaven of Animals by David James Poissant; Cementville by Paulette Livers; Damage Control by Amber Dermont; Blood Will Out by Up in the Air author Walter Kirn; Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler; and The Haunted Life, a new collection of early writing by Jack Kerouac.
Miranda July – whose new novel, The First Bad Man, is due in January – has developed a smartphone app that “allows one person to deliver a message to another.” The kicker? Someone other than you will deliver the message verbally and in person. (Sounds like she’s probably due before Congress once again.)