A nice review of Lila at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
So when I tell you that Lila ends with a birth, if you are anything like me, your first read of this novel will be vaguely agitated. Not because it is unclear what will happen (this is no spoiler: we know from Gilead that there will be a child and that both he and Lila will live), but rather because across nearly 1,000 pages and over 30 years of reading Robinson, we have not yet encountered a depiction of pregnancy and parturition: the violent wrenching . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The Literary Saloon reports that a book by Linda Boström Knausgaard will soon be making its way to the English language. Yes, that name should look familiar to you.
In The Bookseller Anna James reports that Visser of De Geus launches English language publisher — which is to be called World Editions. (The current World Editions site doesn’t quite capture the English-language-publication version that’s coming.)
They kindly sent me ARCs of their forthcoming (in early 2015) first four volumes and it’s a promising start. The most notable title is Linda Boström Knausgård’s The Helios Disaster (see, for . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Jacobin has an interesting, if problematic take on the Nobel Prize in Literature as an institution. The thrust of it is that the Literature Prize as it currently stands is a golem-esque creation of transnational capitalism, serving its needs by highlighting those authors that play to the humanistic, liberal ideals (which everyone in Stockholm, and probably Europe, knows are universal). It does so by books that are fit for global consumption and that feed in to a very particular image of the author as a lone outsider, completely detached from any present political realities.
Okay, okay, there’s some . . . continue reading, and add your comments
After reading many, many translations, I am attempting to catch up with developments in mainstream American prose; i.e., the “big names” in American fiction. The last book I read in this vein was The Flamethrowers, which I liked to a point.
Now up, Ben Lerner’s new novel 10:04.
I view this book as a very ambitious failure. If we are to believe the backstory presented in the book itself—that it grew out of a story published in The New Yorker on June 18, 2012—then it was written extremely quickly, maybe in as little as a year. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Rebecca Solnit has a new essay collection publishing from Trinity University Press: The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.
Kirkus offers an early review:
In her latest collection of previously published essays, Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me, 2014, etc.) explores troubled and troubling spaces and places that illuminate her concerns about community and power.
How, asks the author, do individuals express their sense of connection to one another when they respond to disasters, such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the BP oil spill, and the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan? How do communities come together for . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I have to say, it’s perfect that Murakami does translation in the afternoon to relax after a morning of writing.
Murakami of course knows that he needs to be translated in order to be read widely. He is very conscious of the power of translation, being himself one of Japan’s most important translators of American literature. He has long collaborated with Motoyuki Shibata, a well-known professor of English literature at the University of Tokyo, who has his own flourishing career as a translator. Of course, both men are admired as great stylists in Japanese, and that attracts readers . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Nice piece on The Wallcreeper by Jonathon Sturgeon.
Also, before I get to the blockquote, how awful is it that currently the only Amazon review of this book is a one-star review by someone identifying as “Chris Roberts, God,” which includes the nonsensical line ” A blurb from a famous writer will not capitulate your book…” as well as the always-obnoxious “The author’s prose is not reader friendly…” Please, somebody do something to change that.
Anyway, onto Jonathon’s piece:
Not much is known about Nell Zink: this much is confirmed by the scant publicity materials and coverage . . . continue reading, and add your comments
My review of Lila by Marilynne Robinson runs this weekend at the San Francisco Chronicle.
The genteel genre of the newspaper review doesn’t really permit me to say these sorts of things, so this is one of the things that a blog is for: READ MARILYNNE ROBINSON!!!!! Really. I am quite convinced that she is one of the great American thinkers of her generation. Read the novels (duh) and read the essays too. Taken together, they are a remarkable body of work, a deep and satisfying examination of the American project—spirituality, as we understand it, and identity, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Ready to Burst sounds astonishing. John Taylor:
Besides its storytelling aspects, Ready to Burst is therefore a kind of manifesto for spiralism. But I would suggest that the spiralist narrative “form” of the novel is less original than the spiralist philosophical “contents.” In this latter respect, Frankétienne’s provocative ideas, inserted rather often into the multilayered narrative, can be contrasted to similar ones developed in essays written by the poet and novelist Édouard Glissant (1928-2011) and the novelist Patrick Chamoiseau (b. 1953), both from the island of Martinique. In Kaiama L. Glover’s own elucidating article, “Spiralisme in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
John Banville on Volume 3:
These were the years of Beckett’s triumph and burgeoning worldwide fame as a dramatist, and he was kept busy fielding inquiries from producers, directors and actors, and even more busy trying to control, down to the last, tiniest detail, the manner in which the plays would be staged. This well-nigh obsessive quest for perfection, as he saw it, is admirable, but it serves to remind us of the fact that Beckett came late to the theatre, that he regarded fiction as his real work – he described the plays as footnotes to . . . continue reading, and add your comments