In light of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which had Indonesia as the official guest of honor, check out Wayan Sunarta’s essay on the rise of Indonesian literature abroad. As he explains it, “Although Indonesian literature is in the ascendant at home, it has so far failed to establish itself internationally. The number of works translated from Indonesian is still very small.”
“If I have a critique of American letters, it’s that the average American doesn’t read broadly enough, not enough work in translation, that we’re too isolated, too narrow in our reading habits, still too locked into boxes like the one built out of white male heteronormativity.” M. Bartley Seigel, outgoing co-editor of PANK Magazine, on his impressions of American literature. Pair with our piece on the submission processes at literary magazines.
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.
“It only took me 10 years to get the verb tenses right!” Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the process of updating his debut novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, recently reissued in a new edition by Knopf. See also: our interview with him on the occasion of the release of his blockbuster City on Fire.
In the annals of Southern literature, Elizabeth Spencer isn’t as well-known as Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor, but she is, Wilton Barnhardt writes, “one of America’s best short-story writers.” The 92-year-old author’s new collection marks “65 years and counting of superb writing,” he argues.
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review.