I've been wondering a lot about how sharing one's writing with a larger audience alters one's process--how having multiple readers, a potential world of them, can strengthen that process, and challenge it, and how it can also, if you aren't careful, wound and compromise it.
We've been following the raging debate about diversity in the publishing industry, which recently re-triggered when BookExpo America released a speaker list of "29 white people and a cat" (as The Toast summed it up). The panel was rebalanced, but debate around the root issue continues: recent data indicates, for example, that while the US has become more diverse in population, the number of multicultural childrens' books has remained flat under 10 percent for two decades. Follow the continuing debate on Twitter hashtags like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #DiverseCanLit, or look to this helpful round-up of blogs and articles at BookRiot.
Here at The Millions, we know the importance of a book's cover (for evidence see here, here, here and here), so Margaret Sullivan's new project, Jane Austen Cover to Cover, has our attention. A sample of covers for Emma, available on The Paris Review's blog, "provides a fascinating glimpse into a variety of publishing cultures, and it reminds that even our classics are mutable, pitched to appeal to any number of sensibilities, their literary status in constant flux per the dictates of the market."
Writing for Banned Books Month on the PEN American Center’s blog, our own Lydia Kiesling discusses Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a book many have “lobbied vigorously to pry … out of the hands of enthralled youth since 1975,” Kiesling writes, which should prove that such lobbyists “weren’t very good readers” in the first place.
Edith Grossman has lately become the definitive translator when it comes to Spanish-language fiction. She is responsible for producing the English-language editions of the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (including his upcoming autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale), Mario Vargas Llosa (most recently The Feast of the Goat), and of course she brought The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis to American readers. Now, for the first time, she turns her translator's pen to a classic. Her beautiful edition of Cervantes' Don Quixote has just been put out by Ecco, and, having never read the book, I will be delighted to turn my attention to this new edition soon.New CoetzeeMy friend and trusted fellow reader Brian informed me that he has read recently lauded author, J. M. Coetzee's new novel Elizabeth Costello, and that he found it quite good and thought-provoking (better than Disgrace, anyway, which is his point of reference for Coetzee). So I was mildly surprised when I saw that the book received an unflattering and somewhat dismissive capsule review in last week's New Yorker. The New York Times Book Review, however, confirms Brian's assessment of a dense and philosophical, yet readable book.Amazon's Mega SearchLast week Amazon announced their mind-boggling new search feature, which allows users to search the complete text of tens of thousands of new books. Talking to readers and checking out the buzz on the internet, I encountered a wide range of reactions to this new development, ranging from anger at Amazon's ever-widening reach and annoyance at the plethora of extraneous results when searching for book titles or authors to exultation at this vast resource that has suddenly appeared at our fingertips. Meanwhile, the New York Times covers authors' concerns. Any thoughts, press the comment button below and let us know.