“You are what you brought from your country? Or you are what you learned here?” The New York Times visits Librería Barco de Papel, one of New York City’s last remaining Spanish-language bookstores. The space also operates as a community and cultural center for the Jackson Heights neighborhood, where roughly half of the 67,000 residents identify as Latino. If you want to feel some more feelings about the state of independent bookstores, check out this old Millions piece about paving paradise and putting up a Chipotle.
Jonathan Franzen knows a lot about birds. The novelist competed on Jeopardy’s “Power Players Week” alongside Chuck Todd and S.E. Cupp as part of a variation on the Celebrity Jeopardy theme. Franzen flubbed a few questions about Shakespeare which, ironically, served to help dispel some of the “old curmudgeon” reputation that has followed him for years. This piece from The Millions on the case for non-Ikea writing in the Age of Franzen might interest you.
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]