“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” NPR reminds us of this great quote from Haruki Murakami before rounding up its five favorite books in translation for 2016, including Yoko Tawada‘s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (originally published in German) and The Clouds by Juan José Saer. And from our archives: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
Thanks to Stephen Elliot‘s Letters in the Mail project, LARB senior editor Matthew Specktor finds himself admiring the gorgeous handwriting of strangers, feeling tickled and gobsmacked, and reflecting on letter writing as something “beautifully useless to do.”
From the person who brought you Infinite Boston comes Infinite Atlas, an interactive map of the places that make up Infinite Jest, and, for the truely devoted, the Infinite Map, a framable print version of that atlas. Page-Turner offers an extended preview of D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story. Maria Popova highlights a few of the signature DFW words that he adopted from his mother.
Finalists for the Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize—including Sophie McManus, Ben Metcalf, Lori Ostlund, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chigozie Obioma, Tanwi Nandini Islam, and Angela Flournoy—discuss the books that made them the writers they are today. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone’s recent article on authors’ favorite childhood books.
The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster — the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.