“The best critics do more than explain why they liked or didn’t like a book; they try to understand books, and show other readers, by example, how to read and think about those books. Specialized expertise can work in service of that goal, but is probably not as important as a willingness to attempt to be a work’s most thoughtful reader.” Elisa Gabbert writes for Electric Literature about who gets to translate and review works and takes Kazuo Ishiguro‘s latest novel, The Buried Giant (which we reviewed here), as a case study.
VIDA, an organization that promotes gender parity in the literary arts, has tallied up the 2011 bylines and book reviews from some of the bigger magazines . Granta was the only publication to achieve parity, but they did have an issue devoted entirely to feminism, so that may be skewing the numbers. The Atlantic, The London Review of Books, and Harper’s are not making the cut. While institutionalized misogyny in any profession presents a problem, gender quotas are probably not the answer.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel The Lola Quartet is out today. New Yorkers can see her (and some other Millions staffers) read on Sunday. Also out are Robert Caro’s latest installment of his LBJ biography, Nell Freudenberger’s The Newlyweds, Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, and Steve Coll’s oil industry exposé Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.
It’s official: Borders has announced it will begin liquidating its 399 bookstores this week. Store closures could begin as early as this Friday and will continue through September, according to the Times.
Forget “Gangnam Style.” The next Korean musical craze should involve the sijo (pronounced “shee-jo”), a type of poem dating back to the 1300s, and, “up until the 20th century … was mostly composed and sung, not written and published.” You can listen to a performance of Yi Cho’nyön’s “Moonlight Pear Blossoms” over here.
Our humongous second-half preview will keep you busy planning your to-read list for the rest of the year, but there are some intriguing new books out this week too. Bonnie Jo Campbell’s novel Once Upon a River is now out, as is Edie Meidav’s Lola, California. (Don’t miss the remarkable essay Meidav wrote for us recently.) Also new is the latest from Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name), A Death in Summer, and Flip Flop Fly Ball, a collection of light-hearted and very clever baseball infographics from Craig Robinson (whose work also appears on his blog).