“Don’t die on the toilet; / it’s really the worst way to go.” Do yourself a favor and go check out this selection of new poems by Elizabeth Scanlon at Electric Literature.
Madhu Kaza, a “writer, artist and educator,” has a possible solution for you. She’ll come into your home 15 minutes before bedtime and sit in a chair beside your bed and read to you from your favorite books until you fall asleep. Then she’ll let herself out and lock the door behind her. The free service is called Here Is Where We Meet, the title of a 2005 novel by John Berger. The only requirement is that you fill out a short questionnaire and make an appointment — and get ready to say goodbye to the sheep and the warm milk.
Since 2010, Russian publishing professionals estimate that “as many as 20% of [all] Russian book stores have closed.” Each year, they fear, the number of “dedicated readers in Russia declines by 2%.” To remedy these trends, the Russian government has recently approved a $100 million stimulus package for the nation’s book industry – running the gamut from investment in new bookstores, to tax incentives for small presses, and also to more international book fairs – to be dispersed through 2018. Recently, Emily Parker noted in The New York Times that Russia’s literary problems might be blamed on its lack of “good protest literature.”
The theatrical trailer for the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey was released this week. If you’re keeping track, that means we’ve now got a film based on fan fiction written about another film adapted from a schlocky romance novel involving vampires. (Come at me, Twilight fans.)
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]
Lisa Peet at Open Letters Monthly / Likefire blog on Millions contributor Sonya Chung‘s novel Long for This World: “When a novel, particularly a debut novel, is referred to as ‘ambitious,’ there’s usually an implicit ‘but’ present… Chung takes on the dynamics of family—what draws it together and what pulls it apart—through the eyes of a number of players, male and female, old and young, Korean and Korean-American. Both her subject matter and her approach are ambitious, to say the least. The only ‘but’ in my reaction, however, is but she pulls it off—and admirably.” Read the full review.