How do you “challenge Muslim stereotypes” in film? Add more white actors. The director of a biopic about 13th-century Sufi poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi hopes to have Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. star in the film.
If you run into trouble in Iceland, blame the elves. 54.4 percent of Icelanders believe in the invisible creatures, and elves cause environmental protest today. “Beliefs in misfortune befalling those who dare to build in elf territory is so widespread and frequent that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has created a five-page ‘standard reply’ for press inquiries about elves,” Ryan Jacobs writes for The Atlantic. Pair with: our essay on Icelandic writer Sjón.
“Oh, speaking of dust, I am pretty sure I have a dust allergy. A debilitating, truly severe dust allergy. But I can’t dust this place, because I have to leave everything as it was that fateful day, untouched, preserved, still, because I am crazy and should be on disability. Also, between us, you see this place? It has like 30 rooms. I mean, who can clean that?” Miss Havisham (of Great Expectations) has issues with the denial of her disability claim.
Three weeks ago, Vishwas Gaitonde wrote a piece for us about a house in India once owned by the family of George Orwell. Now, in the Times, Jane Perlez pays a visit to Burma, where Orwell served in the Imperial Police Force and gathered impressions for his first novel, Burmese Days.
“The presentation of himself as a damaged outsider, barely holding on, ups the dramatic ante, though it does seem at odds with the accomplished, balanced, commanding prose he appears able to muster with every sentence — not to mention his prestigious awards and teaching stints.” On Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering.
Everyone’s been there: the bookstore event at which the reader drones on and on. The Observer shares some reading horror stories (and a few successes). Sarah McNally of NYC’s McNally Jackson bookstore says, “The traditional reading format is broken.”
New this week is Julian Barnes’ new collection of stories, Pulse. We also have new novels from Geraldine Brooks (Caleb’s Crossing) and Jean Thompson (The Day We Left Home). There’s also a new collection available from Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio (Mondo and Other Stories). And new in paperback: Millions Hall of Famer Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis.