The 2014 National Book Awards were just announced earlier this week. In celebration, The Paris Review took a look back at the American Book Awards, which “serve as a reminder that ostensibly prestigious institutions—institutions whose authority and taste depend on their perceived stability—are just as susceptible to whims and trends as the rest of us, which is to say very.”
Three Percent is organizing a “World Cup of Literature” to coincide with the international soccer tournament’s June 12th beginning. The rules are simple: literature from each of the 32 countries in the actual World Cup will be put into a “32-book knock-out tournament,” and “each ‘match’ will pit two books against one another and will be judged by one of … fifteen illustrious judges.” Who’s your early favorite? (Bonus: “What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections?”)
In his review of a collection of rejected New Yorker covers titled Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See, Jeet Heer details the magazine’s history of straddling the divide between bourgeoisie complacency and bohemian angst.
Planning to attend this Saturday’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.? The Washington Post has provided five sample itineraries. And for an entirely different, vicarious trip, revisit Mythili G. Rao‘s account of visiting the Jaipur Literature Festival a few years back: “To voice their disapproval of the circumstances of Salman Rushdie’s absence, four writers read from The Satanic Verses — a book that has been banned in India. They were advised to leave. What kind of real intellectual discussion could go on in a setting that had proved itself so hospitable to self-censorship?”
More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.