At the New Yorker, Min Jin Lee discusses her introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Great Gatsby, a book she both loves and questions. “I could really adore The Great Gatsby, and I do,” she says. “I spent three months of my life talking about it. But I’m also going to say that it’s not everybody’s story at that time. Do I think we should read it? Yes. Do I think that it defines the American experience? I want to add a footnote. Using whatever little power that I have to say ‘hang on, there’s more’ doesn’t mean that I’m kicking him off the shelf. I’m just saying, ‘Let’s reconsider the classic, with its flaws and its limitations.'”
“One is less likely to overlook or be unfairly harsh to a translator if one has been a translator, and one is less likely to fault an original writer for weaknesses in translated prose or poetry if one has a sense of the pitfalls into which a translator can stumble—a sense I am still developing after years of translating poetry and prose.” Over at Asymptote Journal, Sue Burke and Maia Evrona look at reviews of books in translation.
This Splitsider interview with Clarissa Explains It All creator Mitchell Kriegman is fantastic. Among the many revelations that come out of the interview is this gem: “The most amazing person that you would never guess worked on the show was [The Hunger Games author] Suzanne Collins. She was the quietest, nicest person. Like having JK Rowling working on your show!”
Heaven forbid someone ever draws parallels between your writing and that of “Robert Rabelais the Younger.” For his work, published in the nineteenth century, has been described as “the most appallingly bad epic poem to have ever been written in English, comprised of 384 interminable pages of doggerel verse devoid of any literary merit, an opus d’odure that screams stinkburger.” (And that’s one of the more positive evaluations.)
David Remnick’s biography of President Obama, The Bridge is out. (The Times explained how Remnick finds time to run the New Yorker and write a 700-page biography of a sitting president.) Also new: Another chronicle of the collapse, The End of Wall Street by talented financial journalist Roger Lowenstein; Nobel laureate Jose Saramago’s “blog book” The Notebook; another in the posthumously published oeuvre of Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche and Other Stories; the latest from A.L. Kennedy, What Becomes; and Tom Rachman’s touted debut The Imperfectionists.
Jay Rubin, best known as Haruki Murakami’s longtime English translator, is also a novelist in his own right. Last month, he published his debut The Sun Gods, about a Japanese-American couple who meet each other on the eve of World War II. In an interview with The Rumpus, he talks about Murakami, his new book and his interest in Japanese literature. You could also read Ben Dooley on Japanese cell phone novels.