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.
George Bernard Shaw had a strange relationship with Nietzsche. Alternately envious and dismissive of the German philosopher, Shaw once said he wanted to be an intellectual in Nietzsche’s mold, though he also felt Nietzsche’s thinking was addled and self-absorbed. In an essay for The New Statesman, Michael Holroyd tries to make sense of Shaw’s views.
“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
In November, Matt Kish will write a series of guest posts for Tin House’s Open Bar Blog. He’ll be “exploring some of the ideas and processes behind five of [his] Heart of Darkness illustrations.” Over on his personal blog, however, he’s asking for readers to help him select which five pieces he should discuss. Kish, who has previously illustrated the pages of Moby Dick, was recently mentioned in our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Over on LARB, Marie Rutkoski traces the geneology of Cinderella and explores the theme of nature that runs through the classic fairytale’s many iterations. It’s also well worth revisiting Kirsty Logan’s piece exploring how contemporary authors have revisited the story of Snow White.
How’s your bracket doing? Upsets abound not only on the hardwood but also in The Morning News’s Tournament of Books. Celebrate your victory over lesser bracketologists (or, alternately, mourn your defeat against the onslaught of superior bracketologists) with this compendium of basketball poetry compiled by the folks at the Poetry Foundation.
Recommended Reading: Louise Erdrich’s new short story in The New Yorker, “The Big Cat,” which is about snoring among other things. “The women in my wife’s family all snored, and when we visited for the holidays every winter I got no sleep.” Deborah Treisman also interviewed Erdrich about the story. “I like the idea that this story reads like a fairy tale, but there is no moral at all, unless it’s Beware of Snoring Cats. Nothing I write ever has a moral.”