A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James was struck by the whiteness of The Hobbit, and in an interview for Entertainment Weekly, he explains it inspired him to write his own fantasy series based on African epic traditions. “It’s sort of like my being a scholar of African history and mythology, and my being a total sci-fi/fantasy geek who rereads things like The Mists of Avalon, they just sort of came together,” James said. He’s targeting a Fall 2018 release for the first book.
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
Since 2010, Russian publishing professionals estimate that “as many as 20% of [all] Russian book stores have closed.” Each year, they fear, the number of “dedicated readers in Russia declines by 2%.” To remedy these trends, the Russian government has recently approved a $100 million stimulus package for the nation’s book industry – running the gamut from investment in new bookstores, to tax incentives for small presses, and also to more international book fairs – to be dispersed through 2018. Recently, Emily Parker noted in The New York Times that Russia’s literary problems might be blamed on its lack of “good protest literature.”
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”
Another Tumblog is being made into a book, this time with a little help from David Shields. Jeff, One Lonely Guy is a collection of recorded conversations and correspondences that were the result of one guy, Jeff Ragsdale , posting a flyer with his phone number all over NYC. Shields is helping Ragsdale arrange the responses he received for publication as an ebook. Ragsdale isn’t, according to his Tumblr, all that lonely anymore. Which makes me wonder how Mark Z. Danielewski’s fairing on OK Cupid?