Jorge Louis Borges’s suggestions for the thirty-three books to begin his famed Library of Babel includes works by Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, and even Borges himself–and, maddeningly, no women. Nothing against Borges, but you may want to spend some time with our own slightly more diverse Year in Reading series for a bit more variety.
Much linked elsewhere, Triple Canopy has published the first complete English translation of the Roberto Bolano’s 1999 speech accepting the Romulo Gallegos Prize.Keith Gessen of n+1 and All the Sad Young Literary Men has started a blog. People who like to make grand pronouncements about such things and/or snark about them are all aflutter. (via)Onward in snark, Tao Lin describes the “Levels of Greatness” for the American novelist. Spoiler alert: Philip Roth wins again. (via)Robert McCrum chronicles his ten years as The Observer’s literary editor in ten chapters, from “Chapter 1: New Blood: Zadie Smith” to “Chapter 10: The Kindle.”
The Asian American Literary Review is releasing their Special Issue Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of September 11 with a launch party this Friday at 7pm in downtown New York at Alwan for the Arts. The 350-page(!) issue has interviews, essays, and first person testimony on 9/11 by South/Asian and Arab American contributors — including Kazim Ali, Amitava Kumar, and Khin Mai Aung from AALDEF (the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund) — several of whom should be at the launch.
“Who was Bret Easton Ellis describing when he tweeted: ‘The best example of a contemporary male writer lusting for a kind of awful greatness that he simply wasn’t able to achieve’?” The Guardian has a delicious quiz of literary putdowns. And speaking of fighting, let’s talk about books about violence.