Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient won the Golden Man Booker Prize, the one-off award celebrating the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize. About the prize, Ondaatje said “I wish in fact that those of us on this Man Booker list had been invited to propose and speak about what we felt were the overlooked classics—in order to enlarge what ought to be read, as opposed to relying on the usual suspects.” Read the rest of his illuminating and gracious speech over at Literary Hub.
“I can read whatever I want. No one can stop me. I can help other people read what they want. And no one can stop them.” Zoe Fisher for The Rumpus about being “a horny queer teenager” who found her home in libraries. Pair with a controversial piece from our own pages this week by Douglas Koziol, a bookseller exploring what to do with “a book that you not only find objectionable but also believe actually dangerous in the lessons it portends amidst such a politically precarious time?”
“‘I think she is better than J. L. Borges—who is good, but not all that good!” said poet Elizabeth Bishop of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Bishop was one of Lispector’s first English translators, but also one of her fiercest critics. Alexandra Pechman writes for the Poetry Foundation about their literary rivalry and grudging respect. Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions review of Lispector’s The Complete Stories.
Last week, I wrote about the disparity between Norman Rockwell’s inner life and the cheerful art that made the painter famous. In the new issue of The Atlantic, James Parker writes about the “unconscious energy” of Rockwell’s work, while on the magazine’s website, Jennie Rothenberg Gritz republishes an old article that examines how Rockwell’s style could seem outdated even in the fifties.
Franz Kafka liked to drink milk as he wrote. Walt Whitman liked a breakfast of cold meat and oysters. Marcel Proust was an espresso addict. This info graphic from The New York Times raises the question: what do you snack on as you write? You might also want to snack as you read that article, so check out our own Lydia Kiesling‘s piece from last April.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, “He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops.” Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.