Three cheers for Jim Crace, who just took home the 20th annual IMPAC Dublin Literary Award! If you remember our coverage of the shortlist, you’ll know that the Harvest author beat out TransAtlantic author Colum McCann and Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.
“Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, ‘What is enclosed may astonish you.’ Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of ‘marcia,’ an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951.”
Robert Birnbaum and Tobias Wolff talk short stories and other topics at The Morning News. Wolff: “Somebody once described the novel as a prose narrative of a certain length that has something wrong with it. I can think of a few novels that seem to have nothing wrong with them at all, but I can think of a lot more short stories that seem to me to be perfect.”
Roger Boylan at the Boston Review writes about the flourishing posthumous career of Mark Twain: “…more than 5,000 previously unknown letters of Twain’s have surfaced in the last 50 years. This represents an average of two new letters per week, but still only about one-tenth of the 50,000 or so he is believed to have written.” And at Slate, Craig Fehrman discusses the “brilliant brand management” behind the handling of Twain’s autobiography.
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
The longest word in the English language is not antidisestablishmentarianism. Nor is it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It is, in fact, the chemical name of titin, the largest known protein. And now you can listen to all 189,819 letters of it being pronounced. Bonus points if you work it into your next conversation.
“‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine. Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.