Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition — as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex — in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was “more than one person.”
"Some of the most impassioned conversation in the literary world has been devoted to highlighting what it lacks: voices of people of color, of gays and lesbians, of those marginalized or oppressed or simply ignored. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice this conversation focuses on race and gender while paying less attention to a demographic category that’s arguably just as determinative: class." Adam Fleming Petty on the marginalization of working class lit.
Guernica's latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue's introduction states, "The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side." The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.
Francis Spufford’s fictionalized book Red Plenty looks to the 1950s-1960s “cybernetics” initiative to answer one of the main questions about the USSR: “Could the Soviet project to build communism have succeeded, or was it doomed to failure from the start?” In his review for The Hoover Institution, Marshall Poe contends the latter.
Chad Post ran the numbers to calculate “the state of literature in translation today,” and in so doing he found that AmazonCrossing has been publishing more works of fiction and poetry in translation than any other press except Dalkey Archive. Additionally, the “overall number of works of fiction in translation being published in the U.S. is growing pretty nicely.” To get a full account of what’s coming out this year, check out his 2013 Translation Database.