“What we call them is entirely irrelevant: emigrants, migrants, refugees, exiles—we all know to whom we refer. Refugeedom is our common cultural meme. It is the story with which Christian civilization begins. We bear the imprint of the furious index finger God used to banish Adam and Eve from Eden.” Dubravka Ugrešić writes about displacement and the refugee crisis for the Literary Hub. Pair with Arnon Grunberg’s Millions essay on Ugrešić’s legacy.
Brontë for babies? Board books, those small, sturdy volumes with the glossy cardboard “pages” – generally featuring rounded corners so babies who are teething don’t cut their gums or poke out their eyes, are getting ludicrous. A new series, we’re told on the back covers, “is a fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature.”
Gigantic’s going intergalactic with Gigantic Worlds, the lit journal’s first venture into book territory, in the form of a sci-fi flash fiction anthology. Authors include Jonathan Lethem, Lynne Tillman, Ed Park, Grace Krilanovich—and potentially you. Gigantic is currently seeking funding for their mission: the more money they raise, the nicer the rocket ship (or something like that).
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
Out this week: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; The Letters of TS Eliot: Volume 5; Rocket and Lightship by Adam Kirsch; The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum; and a single-volume edition of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.