“That little book had such an impact. It changes the course of history. When you think about how sheer accident can change so much, it’s breathtaking.” A set of Luo-language books written by President Obama’s father are up for auction until today, reports The New York Times. Written for the East African Literature Bureau,“the series uses the character Otieno, the Wise Man to offer advice on farming, healthy eating habits and other topics.” Pair with our own Janet Potter on reading presidential biographies.
"The female writers whose work has most recently come in for enthusiastic appraisal are by no means a homogeneous group; their influences, preoccupations and style vary wildly." The Guardian profiles six women authors – Beryl Bainbridge, Anita Brookner, Angela Carter, Jenny Diski, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Molly Keane – whose posthumous legacies continue to grow. Alix Hawley wrote a fantastic tribute to Brookner here earlier this year, noting, "[n]obody does depression quite so elegantly."
Is the global literary marketplace changing the way that novelists write? Over at Public Books, Dora Zhang writes on Rebecca Walkowitz’s Born Translated and books that “appear simultaneously or nearly simultaneously in multiple languages.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
A transcript of Jorge Luis Borges’s conversation with Argentinian poet Osvaldo Ferrari about the power and pleasure of academic knowledge appears in English for the first time. As Borges explains it, "I think that the encyclopedia, for a leisurely, curious man, is the most pleasing of literary genres."
Throughout the 80s and 90s journalists turned hip hop into a literary movement. Pitchfork dives into that time and explores their legacy and impact on journalism and other literary forms. "Eager to extend the outer boundaries of their creativity, many of these writers would go on to ink novels, memoirs, short stories, scripts, and poetry, much of which stayed true to the language and attitude of hip-hop, as though their words were drafted to the sound of a boom-bap beat. It all added up to a low-key literary movement that writer and activist Kevin Powell has dubbed, 'The Word Movement.'" Includes a great reading list at the end.
Hypocrisy is a funny thing. In theory, we all dislike it, seeing an ability to live by one’s own morals as a virtue in itself, but the fact that everybody breaks their own rules from time to time means that our aversion to hypocrisy is a little bit… hypocritical. On the Harper’s blog, Clancy Martin dissects the meaning of the fact that “we’re all hypocrites.”