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)
People Who Eat Darkness author Richard Lloyd Parry’s forthcoming book on the Tōhoku earthquake and its aftermath, Ghosts of the Tsunami, will be released some time in late summer/early fall, and BBC Radio put together a 30-minute teaser to tide you over until then. You can also check out Parry’s moving yet unsettling piece for the London Review of Books.
It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”
This weekend is the last chance to visit the International Antiquarian Book Fair in Boston. Included are a collection of Bonnie and Clyde photos and an illustrated letter from Alexander Graham Bell to his parents describing problems with his phone invention.
Alexander Chee has a stunning new story in Guernica. He writes, “I wanted to eat and so I learned to sing…It took more than a witch to make a singer out of me.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author about his new novel, The Queen of the Night.
If you’re looking for an occasionally evil but mostly hysterical month-long diversion, I recommend following HTMLGiant‘s “Tournament of Bookshit“. So far one highlight has been: “excessively long list of credits including pushcart nominations in your bio vs. the guy who goes 20 minutes over the suggested reading time“