If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.
Everyone’s favorite scrappy San Fransisco literary web site, The Rumpus, has relaunched with a major redesign. Go over and poke around why don’t you? If you’re looking for a place to start, why not Roxane Gay’s recent essay on the New York Times Book Review section’s dismal numbers when it comes to reviewing books written by people of color?
PEN America has announced the longlist for its 2017 Translation Prize, including Deborah Smith for Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (see our review here), Carlos Rojas for Yan Lianke’s The Explosion Chronicles, and Victoria Cribb for Sjón‘s Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was. (We profiled Sjón’s work at length a few years back!) The winner will be announced in February of 2017.