Book Bits: Room to Read, Marlon James, National Book Award finalists, Obama interviews Robinson
Learning about Room to Read’s efforts to bring books, schools and libraries to children in faraway places was better than any tonic or pill I could have taken this morning. Imagine walking into a library in Nepal and finding several books there and then having the vision and grit to return a year later with 3,000 more. I can understand why the joy of that would be catching, leading former Microsoft executive John Wood to make a habit of it. (Item 6)
- News: Marlon James wins the Man Booker Prize, by Carolyn Kellogg – “Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for his multivoiced novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings” at a black tie event in London. The prize is a the leading literary event in the UK and comes with an award of $78,000.” The Los Angeles Times
- Quotation: “Literature may be weak because it has no real power in the world, but in a way it is the grandest narrative of all, in that it puts ourselves into question with fiction. We challenge ourselves and refuse to take the world as a given. We challenge all correctives of opinion, all appeasements, all fears. Literature is the unafraid form.” – Salman Rushdie at the Frankfurt Book fair.
News: “AmazonCrossing, the translation imprint of Amazon Publishing, said it will spend $10 million over the next five years to increase the number and diversity of its books in translation. According to the company, the money will go toward fees paid to translators as well as increasing the countries and languages represented on the imprint’s list.” Shelf Awareness
News: Finalists Unveiled For This Year’s National Book Awards, by Colin Dwyer – “Shortlists for the National Book Awards went public Wednesday, halving the number of nominees to just 20 finalists. Among the books that have survived the second round of cuts, a few clear favorites are beginning to emerge — while others have been displaced by less familiar names.” NPR See Also: Fates and Furies is the latest choice for NPR’s Morning Edition Book Club
Interview: Novels Don’t Lie: A Conversation Between Robert Kloss and Colin Winnette, by Colin Winnette & Robert Kloss – “Can a genre really die? Maybe it gets boring or overplayed or we go through a period where no one is skewing it in a fresh way or breaking expectations, but dead? That line of thinking is depleting and unfun, right? Genre is just a way of categorizing books. You can re-sort them and discover new groupings for books that might otherwise have been written off as “a type of Western.” Our books can loosely be called “Westerns,” but they are different from one another in just about every other way.” Los Angeles Review of Books
- Feature: Library builder’s monument of books, by Bill Hicks – “At some point this year, a child somewhere in the developing world became the ten millionth beneficiary of Room to Read, a non-profit organisation created 15 years ago after a high-flying Microsoft executive quit his job to help children in Nepal.” BBC News
- News: Yes, people DID buy ‘Playboy’ for the articles, by Roger Yu – “Now that Playboy has decided to stop publishing photos of naked women, the old joke about guys claiming to read it for the articles will truly be put to the test.” USA Today
- Review: “A Little Life,” by Hanya Yanagihara, reviewed by Nicole Lee – “Hanya Yanagihara’s new novel, “A Little Life,” is a witness to human suffering pushed to its limits, drawn in extraordinary detail by incantatory prose.” The Washington Post
- Interview: Marilynne Robinson (“Lila,” “Gilead”), with Barack Obama – “But one of the things that I don’t get a chance to do as often as I’d like is just to have a conversation with somebody who I enjoy and I’m interested in; to hear from them and have a conversation with them about some of the broader cultural forces that shape our democracy and shape our ideas, and shape how we feel about citizenship and the direction that the country should be going in…And so we had this idea that why don’t I just have a conversation with somebody I really like and see how it turns out. And you were first in the queue…” The New York Review of Books
- Viewpoint: Why Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize Is Good for Literature, by Jonathan Sturgeon – “Alexievich’s Nobel Prize should be celebrated instead of shrugged at, even if an appreciation of her work requires dispensing with some of the bromides of American literature and publishing.” Flavorwire
- Review: “The Heart Goes Last,” by Margaret Atwood, reviewed by Stephanie Harrison – “magine a world in which the economy has tanked, jobs have dried up, society has crumbled, and people are doing anything and everything they can just to scrape by. For most of us, such a cataclysmic state of affairs is all too easy to envision, which makes Margaret Atwood’s latest dystopian thriller, The Heart Goes Last, all the more unsettling and eerily prophetic. ” Book Page
- Feature: 5 times Jonathan Franzen trolled us this year, by Anna Silman – “True to form, amidst the media flurry surrounding “Purity’s” September rollout, we have had the pleasure of watching our favorite gaffe-prone Great American Author sound off on topics such as: Gender bias, social media, climate change, Iraqi war orphans, poverty, and how much he likes Chipotle. (Apparently “store credit was a decisive factor” in publishing a story on the fast-casual burrito joint’s cups.) And Franzen himself seems to be having as much fun as we are, as most of his remarks seem deliberately engineered to push our buttons and send social-media spiraling into a tizzy.” Salon
Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the new second edition “Sarabande” to be released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing on November 1. The Kindle edition is already available for pre-order.