“Gobble a lot of fiction very quickly and you soon find yourself suffering from the literary equivalent of a food intolerance. Oh no, you think, not another novel about X or Y. At these moments, only one thing keeps you going: the faint hope that the book in question might turn out to be the greatest novel ever written about X or Y.” Rachel Cooke writes for The Guardian about reading 80 books in four months and the process of judging the Folio prize.
Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s moving speech at The Sunday Times Literary Awards in which he speaks about the resilience of literature and the necessity of keeping less-popular languages alive is now available online. (Here’s our handy guide to pronouncing the author’s name, in case you were too embarrassed to ask.)
“In Proust, the rhythm, the phrasing, the movement of the sentence, even the grammar—it’s all so complex that it would be almost impossible to repeat anyone else’s work. Because of that I’m all the more aware of the differences, and of how admirable Scott Moncrieff’s work often is.” George Plimpton interviews Richard Howard about translating Remembrance of Things Past, for the Summer 1989 issue of The Paris Review. The interview was reissued to mark Richard Howard’s birthday, who turns eighty-six today.
In the mid-aughts, Jonathan Gottschall pioneered “literary Darwinism,” a new form of analysis which applied evolutionary theory to works of literature. It was part of a wider upheaval in English departments across the country. Now, more than ten years later, we can make an assessment: how’d it work out for Gottschall? The answer: not well. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
New this week: Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda, Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine, and, available for the first time ever as ebooks, Roberto Bolaño’s masterpieces 2666 and The Savage Detectives. There are many, many more anticipated books on offer in our big second-half preview, published this week.