J. K. Rowling will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award “for her efforts to fight inequality and censorship”. Rowling joins the likes of Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Tom Stoppard. Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the magic of the Harry Potter series with librarian Cynthia Oakes.
“7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism.” From McSweeneys, great literature retitled to boost website traffic.
Lots of anticipated books hitting shelves today. At the top of the list is Michael Lewis’s look at the recent financial calamity, The Big Short. Also new today, Chang Rae Lee’s The Surrendered, Ron Rash’s story collection Burning Bright, Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That, and James Hynes’ Next, about which we have noted some intriguing Twitter buzz. New in paperback are Victor LaValle’s The Big Machine and Dave Eggers’ The Wild Things.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
Adding to a review by Pamela Erens for The Millions, Zoë Heller reads Janet Malcolm’s Forty One False Starts for the New York Review of Books. Among other things, she concludes that the writer’s job, at least in Malcolm’s estimation, is “to vanquish mess.” (You could also read a review in The Nation I wrote about a few weeks ago.)
Recommended Reading: All of the New York Times Book Review’s “Money” issue is worth a look, but in particular I recommend checking out Chris Ware’s original graphic short story. (Bonus: the Building Stories author recently contributed to our Year In Reading series.)