“The Chinese people are on high alert that criticism of the government, independent thinking, and challenges to official narratives are dangerous.” PEN America has published “Writing on the Wall,” a report about the disappearance, late last year, of five Hong Kong booksellers. Only four of the five men have been released from Chinese custody.
"As young writers in Balzac walk around Paris pitching historical novels with titles like The Archer of Charles IX, in imitation of Walter Scott, today an aspiring novelist might seek his subject matter in a neglected corner or along some new frontier of neurology." Marco Roth questions the rise of the "neuronovel" at n+1.
Lit crit becomes a legal matter: "The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity," wrote the English judge who has dismissed the case against J.K. Rowling brought by the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs. Jacobs' estate claimed that Rowling had plagiarized elements of Willy the Wizard's plot in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
“[C]an we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don't want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has some big, important questions in The Los Angeles Times.
Adam Mansbach's "viral," tongue-in-cheek kids' book for adults, Go the F--k to Sleep is now out. We interviewed Mansbach years ago, pre-frenzy, about other matters. This week also offers up a pair of much anticipated novels for the literary set, The Astral by Kate Christensen (don't miss Edan's interview with Christensen today) and The Curfew by Jesse Ball, and a rather specialized tome for fans of literary history, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms.
"Internet reading takes up my time without my setting that time aside for it, and fills me with images and thoughts that I don’t perceive going in, like radiation... In these online minutes or hours, I drift along with my mouth open, absorbing whatever’s floating by, never chewing or even swallowing, just letting it all seep pre-chewed into me": an elegant argument against reading about books before you read the books in question at Electric Literature. (But we hope you'll continue to read The Millions anyway.)