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.
“Symptoms included a frenzy for culling and hunting down first editions, rare copies, books of certain sizes or printed on specific paper.” Lauren Young writes in Atlas Obscura about the phenomenon of bibliomania, “a dark pseudo-psychological illness” that afflicted upper-class victims in Europe and England during the 1800s. And for a first-hand account of more contemporary book theft, read John Brandon on his high school pastime: “The first time was nerve-racking, a rush, but by the third book I was already settling in.”
“I can still remember with complete clarity the way I felt when whatever it was came fluttering down into my hands that day 30 years ago on the grass behind the outfield fence at Jingu Stadium; and I recall just as clearly the warmth of the wounded pigeon I picked up in those same hands that spring afternoon a year later, near Sendagaya Elementary School. I always call up those sensations whenever I think about what it means to write a novel.” Haruki Murakami on “The Moment [He] Became a Novelist,” excerpted on Lit Hub from the new double edition of his first novels, Wind/Pinball.
Sometimes we just need a gentle little reminder. Here are some love letters to you from all of your unfinished writing, who would like to propose a little ménage à trois with you and your editor. Last year’s iteration of the series is also well-worth a revisit.
“At first blush, bringing an eight-year-old to one of William Shakespeare’s quirkier plays in an effort to help her see herself, an Asian American girl, in popular culture did seem a rather odd decision.” Nicole Chung for Hazlitt on The Winter’s Tale, representation, and parenting in the age of Trump. And wouldn’t you know it, we have a piece specifically about that very play – “three/fifths wintry tragedy, two/fifths vernal comedy, and wholly a masterwork” – right here.
Edinburgh’s latest whodunnit wasn’t written by Ian Rankin. The Scottish capital’s mysterious book sculptor has struck again. Last summer, she started anonymously leaving paper sculptures at literary locations around the city to promote free access to libraries, museums, and galleries. The latest artwork arrived at the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust and includes paper feather wings, a safety helmet, and goggles “to provide some protection throughout journey.”