“The Terminal C Baja Fresh sign gleams like living flame. I feast. The salsa bar is limitless. The refills overflow. I browse John Grisham courthouse thrillers within Hudson Booksellers for 15 minutes… or was it a millennia? Time is a breath to me now.” Jeff Loveness for McSweeney’s is TSA PreCheck, and now he is a God.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
While working with Australia’s Lajamanu Aboriginal population in remote sections of the Tanami Desert, linguist Carmel O’Shannessy identified “a [new] language system, independent of … other languages” spoken by about 300 people. Since her initial discovery in the late 1990s, O’Shannessy has studied the language and its grammatical structure, and now her findings have been published this month in the journal Language (PDF).
Recommended Reading: Bret Anthony Johnston on (not) writing what you know. His essay is an excerpt of Writer's Notebook II, published by the folks at Tin House. (Related: we published Harper's editor Christopher Beha's essay in the book last year.)
Jorge Louis Borges’s suggestions for the thirty-three books to begin his famed Library of Babel includes works by Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, and even Borges himself–and, maddeningly, no women. Nothing against Borges, but you may want to spend some time with our own slightly more diverse Year in Reading series for a bit more variety.