If the looming election has you feeling like you might need a change of address on November 9th, you might (might) consider the United Arab Emirates. Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has implemented a groundbreaking initiative which requires government employers to give workers an allotment of free time for reading. Sheikh Mohammed had this to say to novelist Paulo Coelho’s praise of the initiative, “Did you know, Paulo, that in the 9th century, our region had over 100 publishing houses on the outskirts of Baghdad alone? … When its life was centered on books, Baghdad was, my friend, a beacon in the worlds of astronomy, medicine, mathematics and philosophy. Where is Baghdad today?””
In a recent interview with Bookforum, Wells Tower dropped an enticing little detail about his latest project: a novel. Playing coy with the interviewer, Tower admitted only that “it will concern a family and it will contain a good number of pages.” No release date has been set at this time.
What’s going on in Hong Kong? Last week, a man by the name of Lee Bo became the fifth member of the Hong Kong-based publishing house Mighty Current, which specializes in provocative tomes about Beijing leaders, to vanish mysteriously. A few of those missing have been in sporadic communication with worried family members, letting them know in opaque terms that they are “helping with an investigation.”
Robert Birnbaum and Tobias Wolff talk short stories and other topics at The Morning News. Wolff: “Somebody once described the novel as a prose narrative of a certain length that has something wrong with it. I can think of a few novels that seem to have nothing wrong with them at all, but I can think of a lot more short stories that seem to me to be perfect.”