In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
The shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2011 has been announced. This list features Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo, and three other books by Spanish and Norwegian authors.
I've been meaning to link to Ed's review of Stephen King's Lisey's Story in the Philly Inquirer. Jenny finds that not everyone agrees with Ed. Previously: King tells the Paris Review the he sees Lisey's Story as a "special book."Why Levi won't be reading Thomas Pynchon's new book Against the Day. Michael, meanwhile, already has his copy.Former book columnist at the Dallas Morning News Jerome Weeks has started a blog, book/daddy. Weeks took a buyout from his paper and has been vocal about the downsizing of cultural coverage in newspapers. See Weeks' comment on a recent post on this topic.Assigned reading too hard for schoolkids say experts.Google recently subpoenaed a number of companies - Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo and publishers Random House, Holtzbrinck, and HarperCollins - to collect evidence that will back its side in the copyright case against Google Books being brought by authors and publishers. Now, Amazon has rejected Google's request, and the other companies are expected to follow suit.
In a 6,000 word essay for The Point, founding editor Jon Baskin wades into the personal and professional psychodrama of the Franzen-Wallace friendship. Beneath the public surface, finds deep questions about the "novel of the self," the "novel of society," and the life worth living.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations attracted two notable literary figures this weekend. Author and activist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) addressed protestors. Here's the longer, uncut version of her speech. On Sunday, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek (Living in the End Times) gave an address as well.