Why do Americans read so few translated works? A lot of reasons come to mind, but one is that translated books are often the purview of small publishers, who don’t have the same marketing budgets as the larger companies in the industry. At The New Yorker’s Currency blog, Vauhini Vara looks at the statistics compiled by Three Percent, a database at the University of Rochester that tracks publications of translated works in the country. Related: Oliver Farry’s interview with the Portuguese writer António Lobo Antunes.
In the wake of her 2016 Presidential loss, Hillary Clinton’s best-selling book What Happened sparked the question: “Would you rather be president of the United States or a No. 1 best-selling author?” The Washington Post asked several authors including Cheryl Strayed, Erik Larson, and Joyce Carol Oates for their thoughts. See also our interview with Strayed from our archives.
Apart from being one of America’s most eminent fiction writers, Eudora Welty was also an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by the hundreds of images she produced while employed by the Works Progress Administration in the midst of the Great Depression. As Danny Heitman writes, she was also known as a great public speaker, in part because, as she put it, “I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.” (h/t The Paris Review)
The CIA might just be America’s most literary government agency, no? Not only did they (maybe) help fund the early days of The Paris Review but, according to Eric Bennett, the group also funded the nation’s most prestigious and storied creative writing program. Over on Iowa Public Radio, you can hear some details.
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”