What accounts for the incredible popularity of Chicken Soup for the Soul? The inspirational book series has continually sold well since the first volume was published in 1993. At Slate, Katy Waldman investigates its appeal.
A couple of weeks ago, I pointed readers to the trailer for Olive Kitteridge, the new HBO show based on the Pulitzer-winning novel by Year in Reading alum Elizabeth Strout. In this week’s New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum sizes up the new series, describing it as a case study in bringing a work of fiction to the screen. “In the course of four hours, the miniseries casts a West Coast spell on scenes of Yankee repression,” she writes.
It is a truth universally acknowledged (and recently addressed in Barclay Bram Shoekmaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog) that literary translation is an imperfect art, and this list of mistranslated “literary moments” only offers more evidence for the claim. But for every serious blunder there’s also a truly ridiculous one (or more). For example, the French translated the title of Animal Farm as Animals Everywhere!, which sounds a lot like a charming children’s book and not at all like Orwell.
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
Out this week: Some Luck by Jane Smiley; Reunion by Hannah Pittard; The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; Man V. Nature by Diane Cook; The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron; The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth; The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane; There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme; Citizen by Claudia Rankine; and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.