Here at The Millions, we tend to focus on translation as a literary form, which often leads to debates over how much a translator can change the meaning of a text. However, the majority of translation in the world is far more functional, as it is in the case of basic European bureaucracy. In The Nation, Benjamin Paloff takes a broader look at movements from one language to another. Pair with: Barclay Bram Shoemaker on translating Mo Yan’s Frog.
Ever got the feeling that literary life used to be a lot more glamorous? Well, thanks to this review, we now have some proof that it was. In The Times Literary Supplement, a review of Antonia Fraser’s new memoir, which includes her memories of meeting the Queen and dancing with T.S. Eliot. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
In an effort to diversify the comics industry, Marvel’s latest superhero isn’t another white man in a cape but a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. Kamala Khan, alias Ms. Marvel, can change shape and will fight villains and her parents’ expectations when the series debuts in February. Pair with: Matt Madden’s history of American comics in six panels.
As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she’s written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: “Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble.”
A Russian publisher has stooped to a new low: it added “fake quotes from fake newspapers on the cover of a … novel released this summer.” That’s not all, either. Apparently the publishers are trying to bill the book as a “Swedish” crime novel even though it was actually written by a Russian under a pseudonym.
Why do articles go viral? At The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova traces what makes a popular story all the way back to Aristotle, but today’s clickbait has two features: a positive message or an ability to excite the reader emotionally. This probably explains why we love those articles about puppies. Pair with: Our piece on if book titles were written for clicks.
What’s the deal with all the fake birds animated into fantasy and sci-fi films these days? According to Brian Thill, these digital flocks “aren’t just there to make the unreal scenes feel a bit more real” but are rather signifiers of “our oldest and most common metaphor for freedom.” What to make of their ability to evade disaster or succumb to it, however, is another story entirely.