The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year’s finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin‘s Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado‘s Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent‘s My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin’s 2017 Year in Reading entry.
“Post-apocalyptic books are thriving for a simple reason: The world feels more precariously perched on the lip of the abyss than ever, and facing those fears through fiction helps us deal with it.” A look at the future of post-apocalyptic fiction from NPR, with a mention of our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven.
“Rather than showing one isolated capsule, the new hall would encompass nature and the human world…. The central theme would not be a certain animal, or even the landscape portrayed. Not one story but the fact that the stories are there. Albert E. Parr, strongly influenced by the burgeoning field of ecology, believed that the interconnectedness between disciplines was the story of the world.” Jaime Green writes for Longreads about the narratives behind the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History. Also check out our own Bill Morris’s piece on the new Whitney Museum.
At Full Stop, the editors interview Susan Bernofsky, who directs the literary translation program at Columbia and has published translations of works by Robert Walser, among other writers. She talks about German phrases that rarely appear in English, as well as the ethics of translating a work faithfully: “I think it’s the translator’s responsibility to be so attuned to the requirements of a given text (and the universe of the author) that these inevitable interventions are always appropriate and never arbitrary or willful,” she says. You could also read Tanya Paperny on the translator Michael Henry Heim.
On the heels of a New Mexico school district banning Neverwhere because a mother considered it “R-rated,” Neil Gaiman delivered a lecture for the Reading Agency about the importance of libraries and reading for children. “It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different,” he said about banning books.
You may have heard that our own Emily St. John Mandel has a new book on shelves. The book depicts a post-apocalyptic future in which a group of nomadic actors deal with the aftermath of a devastating flu pandemic. Claire Cameron (who’s also written for The Millions) reviews the book for The Globe and Mail.