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.
Neil deGrasse Tyson just continues to fix the world, one piece of astronomical minutiae at a time. Theatergoers sitting through screenings of Titanic 3-D will no longer see an incorrect star field thanks to a "snarky" email sent by Dr. Tyson to director James Cameron.
There are many flavors of noir, but the one that may be the most relevant to our lives today, Julia Ingalls argues, is corporate noir, which often takes the form of science fiction. At the LARB, she writes about several examples of the genre, including Alan Glynn’s Graveland and Natsuo Kirino’s Out.
“Why, hello there! — I was just appraising some rare PDFs in the back room when I heard you come in. Feel free to peruse our inventory, and if you have any questions, please allow me—one of the world’s foremost authorities on and purveyors of fine electronic books—to act as your steward through the wonderfully esoteric world of antique eBook collecting.”
British novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard has died at the age of 90. She was famous for The Cazalet Chronicles and her literary love affairs with Kingsley Amis (one of her three husbands), Cecil Day-Lewis, and Arthur Koestler. Despite that her writing career spanned 60 years, she admitted that she found writing frightening in a recent interview. "You’ve got to be pretty nervous about the challenge, the blank page – anything could be on it, it could be crap or it could be wonderful."
No surprise here -- Elena Ferrante fever continues to sweep the literary world. Last week, an Italian historian was forced to deny claims that she was actually the Neapolitan novelist. Now, The Guardian takes a look at the unique history of pseudonyms and posits whether Ferrante's mystery might outlast some famous historical masqueraders. For the unacquainted, here's a quick piece on reading Italy through Ferrante's work.