In the nineties, when Jack Livings was teaching English in China, he was gathering material for The Dog, his short story collection that recently won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize. In an interview in the WSJ, he talks about his research process, Chinese idioms and Uighur-Han relations. You could also read Casey Walker’s syllabus for modern China. (h/t The Rumpus)
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
"An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good." In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the "enfeebling of literary criticism." From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
Still deciding what to do this Friday night? Watch PBS's new documentary on Alice Walker, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, at 9 p.m. EST. At The Daily Beast, Agunda Okeyo discusses the history of the film's production, which took six years. "Stories about women of color told by women of color are sidelined and neglected in favor of our stories being told by white women and men," director Pratibha Parmar says.
The "Bloggies" are back. Looking at this year's nominees, our thoughts from last year still hold true.We try not to rag on the NBCC too much around here, but inadvertently giving your big book recommending initiative the same name as a wildly popular reading-focused social network just smacks of cluelessness.People are still ripping on litblogs. This time, it's Bud eloquently defending our honor.The New Yorker has presented its portfolio of winners in its contest to "redefine Eustace Tilley," the magazine's dapper icon.Free, downloadable mini-books from Chicago's Featherproof BooksDoes Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point hold up in the real world? Not exactly.FSG's Lorin Stein reviews Norman Rush's Mortals: "the most brilliant book of the new century [maybe]."Granta's 100th issue (congrats!) is here. William Boyd's introduction offers up some history on the magazine.Just in time for "Super Tuesday," Michael Chabon throws his hat in the ring for ObamaAttention "Oregon Trail" fans, outdoor equipment company Thule offers a goofy remake of the game. Ah, advertainment. (via)Finally, an important question, answered.