Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who's been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)
Have a short story manuscript and you're not sure where to send it? BOMB Magazine's Biennial Fiction Contest, judged by Sheila Heti (who wrote How Should a Person Be? and was interviewed by The Millions here), is accepting submissions until the end of the month.
Attention New Yorkers: The 2010 PEN World Voices Festival kicks off today with Claire Messud, Lorraine Adams, and Norman Rush. Update: Audio of this stimulating discussion of diversity in literature is available at WNYC. And it looks like many World Voices events will be streaming live at the PEN Website, accessible whether you hang your hat in New York or Nome (or Wasilla). Tonight catch Patti Smith, Rodrigo Frésan, and Salman Rushdie.
Happy Hunger Games! To celebrate the release of Catching Fire, read Ben Blatt's textual analysis of the most popular adverbs, adjectives, and sentences used by Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games trilogy, Stephenie Meyer in Twilight, and J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. Unsurprisingly, the most popular sentence in Twilight is, "I sighed." We're sighing, too. Pair with: Our essay on how teen fantasy heroines need to grow up.
“We tether ourselves to others as a path not taken, a dream unfulfilled. A lesson unlearned, a responsibility unmet. We mourn idols as ourselves because even that unachieved road must end.” Paul Taunton has written a heartfelt Hazlitt essay on Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford, and passionate idolatry. Exley’s cult favorite A Fan’s Notes, published in 1988, is a fictional memoir that centers on a quasi-obsession with Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of eighty-four.
Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Bleeding Edge, which we covered in several Curiosities, is out this week. Also out: Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker; Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair; and a new translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron by UT-Austin professor Wayne Rebhorn. (For more on these and other upcoming titles, check out our Great 2013 Second-half Book Preview.)