Benjamin Alire Saenz

Benjamin Alire Saenz’s short story collection Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club has won the $15,000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

A notable detail from Boris Kachka’s account of crashing a cocktail party with Renata Adler: “I think I’ve written this other novel, it seems,” she says. “It’s in the mail.”

“In the light of history it’s clear that however great Truman Capote’s literary gifts, his promotional genius surpassed them”: Ben Yagoda fact-checks the New Yorker’s fact-checking for In Cold Blood (which was originally published in the magazine as a four-part serial) and finds that large parts of Capote’s “nonfiction novel” were more fiction than fact.

Does the word for “nerd” exist in Chinese? A debate is raging among linguists and writers over whether any of the options—fwi de rn (a boring and tasteless person), dinnǎom (someone too enthusiastic about computers), and shūdāizi (a "bookworm")—come at all close.

David Remnick attends and reports on Philip Roth’s eightieth birthday celebration at the Newark Museum in New Jersey.

When Sheila Heti was sixteen, she began making zines after reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, one of the first feminist books Heti read. Soon after, Heti saw Wolf at a lecture in Toronto and stood up to tell her about how she kept getting in trouble for posting her zines on the walls of her high school. Weeks later, Heti met with Wolf’s Canadian publicist at Random House and began editing a book for them that collected writing and zines from girls all over North America. But when Heti presented the final book, the publisher rejected it. Heti says, “They thought it was too risque and probably disgusting; a lot of the essays and comics and drawings dealt with sexual violence the women had experienced, but also what all zines dealt with: feelings of rage and oppression and body image stresses in the culture and having to behave.” Now the work she collected is a part of the riot grrrl archives at the Fales Library at NYU. Fales senior archivist Lisa Darms says of the material: "I’m really excited about Sheila Heti’s donation to the Riot Grrrl Collection. The zines, writing, and artworks that were submitted, along with the accompanying letters, provide a fascinating snapshot of the issues important to teen girls in the mid-1990s, and show the girls’ passion, sophistication and humor." The project was a formative one for Heti: “I don't feel that I would have written How Should a Person Be? without having gone through that experience—reading all those girls (both riot grrrls and not) writing about feminism, body image, sex relations, expressing themselves in such colloquial but also war-like language. It was probably the hugest cultural influence on the book in terms of its feminism—that and Simone de Beauvoir.”

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