June 8, 2010

The News on Tues

In case you were worried that this blog has turned exclusively to Israeli Literature, here's your regular dose of Tuesday updates:
  • Experimental novelist David Markson has passed away. Only Words to Play With (along with several of my former grad school friends) is devastated.
  • Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky, who did most of his writing in the post-Stalinist era, when poets were nationally celebrated and renowned figures, has also passed away.
  • As I mentioned in my last post - The New Yorker has named 20 writers under 40 that are "worth watching," and drew a predictable amount of criticism ("Despite earlier promises that the list would contain some surprises, there aren't very many here") and envy (“If you get on it, then it’s a nice confirmation. If you don’t get on it, then it doesn’t mean anything.”). The best response article I've read is over on The Haunted Library blog, which offers a counter list of a dozen "up and coming writers over 80." Such lists are always a source for endless (often pointless) debate but my main complaint has (almost) nothing to do with the writers chosen and everything to do with the highly stylized image accompanying the list:
Can you tell from this image that ZZ Packer (bottom left) is African American? Or that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (top left) is Nigerian?
  • Michael Chabon (too old for 20 under 40) responds to the Flotilla incident, and other stupid acts by Jews (incidentally, at least 5 of the 20 writers on the New Yorker list are Jewish).
  • Jonathan Franzen (also too old for 20 under 40) rereads Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children.
  • In a correspondence with David Gates, Jonathan Lethem (also too old for 20 under 40) reveals his secret for writing - no internet access on his laptop. Wells Tower (on the New Yorker list) has two separate desks - fiction (no internet access) and non-fiction (with internet access). Zadie Smith (not too old for 20 under 40, but left out; included on Granta's 2003 list of 20 best young British novelists) has also recommended working on an internet-free computer (if only I could afford to have two computers).
  • And finally, did you notice that there are a lot fewer cinematic adaptations of literary fiction? Variety certainly has.

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