Tim Parks’s review of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian has some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of reviewing translation, but it also takes some shots at the novel and its proponents: “Looked at closely, the prose is far from an epitome of elegance, the drama itself neither understated nor beguiling, the translation frequently in trouble with register and idiom. Studying the thirty-four endorsements again, and the praise after the book won the prize, it occurs to me there is a shared vision of what critics would like a work of ‘global fiction’ to be and that The Vegetarian has managed to present itself as a candidate that can be praised in those terms.” Here’s a Millions review of Kang’s Man Booker International prize-winner.
In “kids these days” news, any book now counts as a “novel.” There are fiction novels and nonfiction novels, recipe novels and poetry novels and picture novels and, less facetiously, a new novel told in letters of recommendation, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members. And now that you’ve finished my three-sentence nonfiction digital novel, here’s the world’s longest novel, which clocks in at 3 million pages that I confess I have not read.
“My father’s life intersected with a century of conflict, horror and invention. He deciphered these histories for me, making me his scribe in a new century. My successes were his successes, and his stories thrum in every word I write. He taught me to see like a writer, to be attentive to the stories that spring up everywhere … It’s an attentiveness to the world, to ordinary suffering, to the love that persists in its midst. My sense of the world, of history and humanity flows from this awareness — and the attendant grim humor — my father used as his guiding lamp in the darkness cast by racism and poverty.” Over at The New York Times, Walter Mosley recalls the lessons taught to him by his father, Leroy.
A Russian publisher has stooped to a new low: it added “fake quotes from fake newspapers on the cover of a … novel released this summer.” That’s not all, either. Apparently the publishers are trying to bill the book as a “Swedish” crime novel even though it was actually written by a Russian under a pseudonym.
“There’s much to be commended in the work done by FiveThirtyEight, or even Vox,” writes Millions contributor Brian Ted Jones. “But making problems seem smaller then they are is a harm that outweighs all the good.” He goes on to tie together the rise of “explainer” sites, the problem with “hashtag activism,” and also references to Louis C.K., Teju Cole, and Leslie Jamison.
“As phenomenological philosophy has determined, self-consciousness is not a mental state that is added on to our experience, or that is particular; rather, it is a feature inherent in all experience. My perception contains me.” Send your Sunday into an existential tailspin with German psychologist Marc Wittmann and his heady ideas about the notion of time and consciousness.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collections. Among them are thousands of illustrations from bygone days when “picture books” were not for children alone. Pair with Buzz Poole‘s reviews of contemporary works of visual literature in The Millions archives, from hand-drawn self-help quotes to politically-charged images of transit in Tehran.