In 2013, Mo Yan became China’s first resident Nobel Laureate in Literature, which prompted a huge swell of interest in his books in the West. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews Frog, his latest novel to get an English translation. Sample quote: “Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, says everything he needs to about the Cultural Revolution with a scene in which Tadpole and other schoolboys eat coal and claim to find it delicious.” You could also read Alan Levinovitz on modern Chinese literature.
“Perhaps no part of the First Novel Experience is as confusing and overwhelming as figuring out how to balance the demands of social media with the demands of writing more fiction.” Martha Woodroof talks with Lydia Netzer about social media in the world of publishing and book promotion. Their advice? “Try to be funny as much as you can. Try to participate in conversations, not just start your own. Try to engage, not just talk.”
“A neck cannot be modern. A neck is in time, belongs to time, but is not formed by it. My guess is that even photos of Neanderthal necks would not differ significantly… [They are] in a certain sense, pure nature. Something that grows in a certain place, the way tree trunks grow, or mussels, fungi, moss.” Recommended reading: Karl Ove Knausgaard on the sanctity of bodies, the nature of truth, and the back of the neck. The third volume of Knausgaard’s bestselling My Struggle hit American bookshelves last week. (Check out our own review of Knausgaard’s previous volumes.)
“Ageists who want to fault millennials for the continual decline in literary reading are wrong to do so. Across the board, there wasn’t much considerable variation in the amount literature age groups read. Everyone is hanging out in the 39–49% range.” Is America in the midst of a literary recession? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 2015 marked the first year in 33 cycles of research that the percentage of adults who read literature had dropped below 45% to a dismal 43%.
New in fiction this week: Benediction by Kent Haruf and Ten White Geese by past IMPAC winner Gerbrand Bakker. In non-fiction: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss’s food industry exposé excerpted in the recent Times Magazine. From the other side of the food spectrum is Issue 6 of Lucky Peach. And it’s a big day for baseball fans: the 2013 Baseball Prospectus is here.