At The Guardian, this year’s six Booker Prize finalists describe the inspiration behind their books. Yesterday, the 2020 Prize was awarded to Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart, who explains that writing is both a source of comfort and a rejection of his childhood. “I grew up to be a textile designer. I had wanted to study English and to become a writer, but in the world of my childhood, boys didn’t do such things. Studying English was middle-class; even the word English was jarring and dangerous in the East End of Glasgow,” he says. “Because of my upbringing I felt so much like an impostor that I wrote in secret, and told no one (other than my husband)…Men from the west coast of Scotland are not known for revealing their tenderer feelings. Fiction allows me to make sense of things I am unable to express in other ways. It took 10 years to write the novel because I felt such comfort in the world I was creating.” Shuggie Bain was featured on our February Most Anticipated list alongside another shortlisted book: Brandon Taylor’s Real Life.
The New Yorker has been hosting a Twitter game show, and this time around the contestants were words and in a macabre turn each word was berated by the audience, the people calling out for the death of that contestant. One word was forced to ultimately bite the bullet and will no longer be welcome in the magazine’s next issue. Tragic.
“This year, AmazonCrossing plans to publish ‘77 titles from 15 countries and 12 languages’ in the United States, which will almost certainly dwarf the output of Dalkey and its ilk. And, with this new $10 million commitment, the number of works in translation published by AmazonCrossing should continue to soar. Which means that AmazonCrossing will almost certainly be the largest publisher of translated literature in the United States for at least the next five years.” At The New Republic, find out how Amazon became the largest publisher of translated works. Our own Michael Bourne breaks the news that Amazon has purchased the English language.
Publishers Weekly talks up author podcasts “as a viable and entertaining marketing tool,” including Brad Listi’s Other People (which recently featured our own Edan Lepucki), Tom Lutz’s Los Angeles Review of Books, and Book Soup alum Tyson Cornell’s company Rare Bird Lit.
“It suddenly went off: ‘Oh, fuck, I’m going to try it as a novel, aren’t I?’ A terrifying realization because John Lennon is such an iconic figure—and the feeling I get out around there, this kind of eeriness, this kind of strange haunted reverberation. I mean, the fuckin’ Atlantic is a really weird thing to grow up right beside.” Millions staff writer Bill Morris sat down with Kevin Barry to talk about his new book, Beatlebone, and about the trouble of getting John Lennon’s voice right on the page. Morris has brought you a bit on Barry in the past.
New this week: 4321 by Paul Auster; The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker; Mr. Iyer Goes to War by Ryan Lobo; The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld; and The Evenings by Gerard Reve. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.