What do you get when you combine Jorge Louis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, and W.H. Auden? You get a list of the losers of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize was won by the controversial Soviet author Mikhail Sholokhov, who had spoken out against granting the Nobel to Boris Pasternak a few years earlier. Not such bad company on the losing side, there.
"Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?" Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates's The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it "demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent."
Out this week: Levels of Life by Julian Barnes; The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; Between Friends by Amos Oz; and a new paperback edition of The Round House by Louise Erdrich. For more information on these books and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.
Rick Gekoski, previously shortlisted for the PEN/Ackerley prize, talks about what it means to be a good literary loser, at Guardian: “And as soon as the winner is announced and it isn't you,” Colm Tóibín observed, “the cameraman just walks away, and you are left there at the table trying to look composed, and you want to die."