Recommended Reading: Anna Aslanyan on the challenges of translation and the nonliteral titles of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Pair with Janet Potter’s Millions guide to finding the perfect title for that book in your drawer.
Planning on writing a prison scene? Worried your characters might sound a bit unrealistic? Then see if you can get your hands on the Bonne Terre dictionary. Written by inmates at a prison in Louisiana, the dictionary includes such idiosyncratic terms as “boat,” meaning a plastic bed, and “pumpkin,” meaning a new inmate.
It’s a catchy idea: two rich Philadelphians, shut out of their family fortune, decide to gain new wealth by proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. It’s the plot of At the Water’s Edge, the new book by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen. Robert J. Wiersema reviewed the book in The Globe and Mail. Sample quote: “In most families, fleeing to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster would seem an odd thing to do in order to expiate a social faux pas and redeem the family honour, but the Hydes aren’t most families.”
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her "catastrophic" summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death in "a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano and Woody Allen's Sleeper." The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story "literature's first dystopian epistolary romantic satire." And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.