Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
In light of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which had Indonesia as the official guest of honor, check out Wayan Sunarta’s essay on the rise of Indonesian literature abroad. As he explains it, “Although Indonesian literature is in the ascendant at home, it has so far failed to establish itself internationally. The number of works translated from Indonesian is still very small.”
"I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air... But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read." Alice Munro writes about A Child's History of England, the first book she ever read.
Fans of Arundhati Roy are celebrating at the news that the author will publish a new novel, her first in 20 years, reports Electric Literature; The Ministry of Utmost Unhappiness is scheduled for release in 2017. Our own Garth Risk Hallberg maaaaay have poked a bit of fun a few years back at the title of Roy's first novel, The God of Small Things, but that was all in good fun.
On this sad aniversary, the Pioneer Press provides a small selection of 9/11 books and movies.Ed does a great job reviewing Haruki Murakami's new collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kudos to him for penning a thoughtful and thorough review.The AP writes up a new video game based on the Christian apocolyptic Left Behind series of books. The novels have sold more than 63 million copies according to the story.This made me a little queasy: A teacher in Hurst, Texas has ignited an interest in reading among her students by having them all read a book together... James Patterson's young adult thriller Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Whatever it takes, I suppose.