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.)
“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the “I” to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes for The Atlantic about alternatives to the confessional mode in literature.
We tend to take it for granted that the world needs more translated works. The dictates of common wisdom state that reading translated works help us understand the reality of foreign cultures. But what if translation, which erases at least some nuance from works of literature, instead “sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption”? In The Irish Times, Michael Cronin reviews a recent book by NYU professor Emily Apter.
Elmore Leonard is set to receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which has been awarded annually by the National Book Foundation since 1988. The medal is intended to recognize the achievements of “a person who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.”
“Long before the term ‘graphic novel’ was coined to explain long-form comic strips, the artist Milt Gross was making precursors to the format,” and one of his lost works is finally being republished. The work, Milt Gross’ New York, was written for the World’s Fair in 1939 and “follows the adventures of the sausage-nosed, conniving, yet amiable con man Pop.”