Howard Jacobson has won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question. In 2007, Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote in Bookforum: "Jacobson is funnier, sentence for sentence, than early Roth and Joseph Heller put together. All comparisons aside, however, the simple point is that Jacobson deserves to be read, and read widely, on his own terms."
Salman Rushdie is writing a memoir about the years he spent in hiding beginning in 1989, when the Ayatollah Khomeini decreed that Rushdie should be killed for the "blasphemy" in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie says of the memoir, "So far I feel that I'm right—I'm not getting churned up and upset, I'm just writing it and I'm feeling quite pleased."
UbuWeb, the great online archive of avant-garde poetry, film, music, and performance has been hacked and is closed "until further notice."
Now that Hugo Lindgren has been named the editor of the New York Times Magazine, what should he do with it? First item on the agenda: Hiring his former colleague from New York magazine, Lauren Kern, to be the Magazine's deputy editor.
A copy of Professor Marcus Boon's new book, In Praise of Copying, is available as a free download under the Creative Commons License. Boon writes, "this isn’t especially intended as a utopian gesture towards a world in which everything is free. It’s recognition of the way in which copies of texts circulate today, a circulation in which the physical object known as the book that is for sale in the marketplace has an important but hardly exclusive role."
Tom McCarthy: odds-on favorite for the Man Booker prize.
Imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo has been unable to talk to journalists since the award was announced on Friday, and his wife, Liu Xia, is now under house arrest. During a short visit, Liu told his wife that he was dedicating the prize to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese authorities have called the Nobel a "blasphemy," imposed a blackout on news of the prize, and broken up a banquet celebrating the victory.
Today is the last day to vote for The Guardian's Not The Booker prize. Meanwhile, the Man Booker prize will be announced tomorrow, and odds-makers are predicting that Tom McCarthy's novel C will win, with one major British betting agency, Ladbrokes, calling off bets on McCarthy's book after a surge of money was placed on the novel last week.
Don Delillo reads a CIA memo outlining the agency's detention, interrogation, and rendition procedures. Delillo, a writer long obsessed with secrets and state power, delivers the memo in an unsettling deadpan, leaving the Delilloesque word redacted ringing in your ears.
A modest proposal: Revive the publishing industry by pulping books.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to imprisoned Chinese author and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. The PEN American Center has been campaigning for Xiaobo to win the prize (and for his release); last December, authors E. L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Edward Albee, A.M. Homes, and Honor Moore gathered on the New York Public Library's steps to rally on his behalf.
More on 2010 Nobel Prize in literature winner Mario Vargas Llosa: the author's first press conference after winning the Nobel; Granta editor John Freeman on why Vargas Llosa was a "phenomenal choice" for the prize; the London Review of Books' compilation of Vargas Llosa reviews; the Paris Review's 1990 interview with the Peruvian author; and from The Guardian, a list of five of his essential novels, and a fanciful telling of why Vargas Llosa slugged Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
In the summer of 2009, authors Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge asked for submissions on the blog HTML Giant for pictures of literary tattoos. They've collected about 150 of their favorites in a new book, The Word Made Flesh, and recently sat down with Poets & Writers to discuss the project. The book includes five pictures from Shelly Jackson's "Skin," a short story that's being published one tattoo at a time, each word inked onto volunteers from around the world.
This weekend, Comic Con invades New York City, with comic book conventions, events, and exhibitions throughout the metropolis.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has won the Nobel Prize in literature, becoming the first South American writer to win the 1.5 million dollar prize since Gabriel Garcia Marquez won it in 1982. Perhaps the shared glory will end the longstanding feud between the two authors, which climaxed the day Vargas Llosa decked Garcia Marquez in a movie theater, leaving him with a black eye.
Tonight, NYU is hosting a memorial celebration for David Markson, the experimental novelist (and David Foster Wallace fave) who passed away this summer. Writers Ann Beattie, Art Spiegelman, Pete Hamill, and Chris Sorrentino (among others), as well as Markson's daughter, Johanna, will read from his work and tell stories of his life, and Kate Valk, a member of the art-theater troupe The Wooster Group, will read from Markson's 1988 novel Wittgenstein's Mistress.
Inspired by the New Yorker's "20 under 40" list of novelists, the New Haven Review has compiled a collection of some great young non-fiction authors, including Bookforum contributors such as Rachel Aviv, Joshua Cohen, and Gideon Lewis-Kraus.
At Publishing Perspectives, Chad W. Post reports on why Douglas Rushkoff, who will speak at the Frankfurt Book Fair, moved from Random House to the innovative start-up publisher OR Books: "With the traditional publishing system, there are too many middlemen, and too many people needing to justify their place in the food chain,” he says. “This ends up costing a lot of money, and ultimately costing a lot of time, too.”
Tonight, New York City's prose fetishists and fans of experimental fiction will likely be heading to a talk titled "On the Well-Tempered Sentence," featuring Gary Lutz, Ben Marcus, Christine Schutt, and John Haskell.
Although Lorin Stein has done an excellent job invigorating the Paris Review blog, he remains loyal to print. "There's no emotional connection between the reader and the computer screen," he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The National Book Foundation has announced this year's "5 Under 35," a group of young authors selected by previous National Book Award finalists. The honorees include Tiphanie Yanique, author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony, and Grace Krilanovich, whose new novel is the hard-to-classify The Orange Eats Creeps.
Yesterday, it was widely reported that a thief stole Jonathan Franzen's glasses, grabbing the spectacles right off the author's face during a Monday-evening publication party for Freedom. The perp, who left a ransom note requesting $100,000, was allegedly chased by partygoers, police, and a helicopter, and gave up the specs shortly after the stunt. That's pretty exciting stuff for a book party, but don't take it too seriously: Our sources in London have told us to take the whole story with a "shovelful of salt."
This morning, on the day before the Frankfurt Book Fair, former Soft Skull editor Richard Nash announced the Spring 2011 list for Red Lemonade, the first imprint of his "insurgent publishing start-up" Cursor. It's an exciting list, which includes Someday This Will Be Funny, a new story collection by Bookforum contributor and American Genius: A Comedy author Lynne Tillman.
Elissa Bassist publishes the excellent notes she took during Lorrie Moore's witty conversation with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, in which she talked about humor, MFA programs, and her "ideal reader."
When the Nobel Prize for literature is announced on Thursday, the choice will probably be a "confounding one," says David L. Ulin at The Los Angeles Times.
Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Kathryn Harrison's New York Times review of the new edition of Madame Bovary says absolutely nothing insightful about the quality of Lydia Davis's translation? The author of The Kiss offers only four cliched sentences about Davis's new rendering, and here are two of them: "It is a shame Flaubert will never read Davis’s translation of Madame Bovary. Even he would have to agree his masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves." She does not mention any other translations, though there are many. Anyone looking for commentary on previous translators of Flaubert's classic can turn to Davis herself, who has written about her predecessors over at the Paris Review blog.
The latest from McSweeney's: Dave Eggers's animal renderings.
Tonight at the 92nd Street Y, Lydia Davis reads from her new translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Davis's translations are as bracing and revelatory as her acclaimed short fiction, and her reflections on the process are always edifying (she's been blogging about translating Bovary at the Paris Review's Daily). Quick quiz: How would you translate the phrase, bouffées d’affadissement, from Bovary: 1. Gusts of revulsion 2. A kind of rancid staleness 3. Whiffs of sickliness? According to Davis, these are just some of the ways it has been rendered into English over the years. In a 2009 interview, she remarked, "Translating makes me much more acutely aware of shades of meaning. You have a set problem and you can’t get around it by avoiding it. You have to pick just the right word."
This weekend Jonathan Franzen revealed that the UK printer of his new novel, Freedom, accidentally opened the wrong file and printed the wrong version. HarperCollins UK is scrambling to recall the 80,000 copy print run, of which about 8,000 have already been sold. Franzen told The Guardian that the errors were, "a couple of hundred differences at the level of word and sentence and fact [and] small but significant changes to the characterisations of Jessica and Lalitha."
Alyson books, the small press that's published some of the best LGBT literature since it began in 1980, has been forced by financial problems to become an e-book only imprint. Alyson's difficulties have been public since earlier this year, when author Michael Musto's essay in the Voice detailed the delays and frustrations of waiting for his book to be published. Alyson Publisher Don Weise is leaving the imprint as part of the restructuring. Under Weise's tenure, Alyson has published many intriguing books, including David McConnell's recent novel, The Silver Hearted, and Weise was planning to publish Laurie Weeks's highly-anticipated novel Zipper Mouth. Weeks is among the twenty-four Alyson authors with contracts that are now in limbo.
English language readers can follow The Frankfurt Book Fair on this blog.
Martin Amis's State of England: Lionel Asbo, Lotto Lout, David Bowie's Object, Kiran Desai's The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny, Naomi Wood's The Godless Boys. Agents reveal some of the big titles they'll bring to this year's Frankfurt Book Fair.
Actor and author James Franco has bought the rights to Stephen Elliott's excellent The Adderall Diaries, which blends memoir, true-crime reportage, and meditations on the trickiness of storytelling. If all goes according to plan, Franco will write the script, direct, and star in the film. Elliott, who founded The Rumpus, seemed happy about the news, though he joked about Franco on Twitter: "Is he handsome enough?"
Flavorwire has assembled a diagram of Infinite Jest.
We can't get enough of Alex Ross's Listen to This. The book—which collects the New Yorker critic's pieces on musicians ranging from Mozart to Bjork—delivers fascinating and complex ideas in crystal-clear prose. Ross clearly really wants you to listen—evidenced by his amazing audio guide. If you're in New York, you can catch the author at two promising New Yorker Festival events this weekend: He'll talk with Yo-Yo Ma on Saturday, and he'll give a presentation on his chapter "Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues" on Sunday.
Snooki of MTV's Jersey Shore is publishing a novel. Title: The Shore Thing. Book Case blog expects the book to do well.
Hugo Lindgren, the former editorial director of New York magazine and more recently the executive editor of Businessweek, has just been hired to be the new editor of the New York Times Magazine, a title long held by his onetime colleague, New York's Adam Moss. Bill Keller has been looking to the NYTM's biggest competitors to make the replacement: As the Observer recently reported, he first offered the job to the New Yorker's Daniel Zalewski, who turned him down.