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A Quiet Passion

Few cinematic genres are as consistently awful as the biopic. Many of the greatest filmmakers have avoided any temptation to enter that genre, and the ones that, for reasons of finances or temporary insanity, did give it a shot usually ended up creating some of their worst films. Show More Summary

Counternarratives by John Keene

John Keene's Counternarratives is one of the most impressive short story collections I've ever read from a living writer, and I was pleased to have the chance to write about it for my old blogosphere friend Dan Wickett, who does wonders celebrating short fiction via his Emerging Writers Network. Show More Summary

On Mutating Into a Mother

This is the third installment of a series on writing and motherhood. Read parts one and two here. When my son was first born, I feared he might be possessed.… Continue reading ?

J. D. Forbes Collecting Prize 2017

Do you love books? Photographs? Spend hours in bookstores and charity shops looking for the perfect addition to your collection? Or perhaps you’ve suddenly realised when moving that you’ve got […]

On the Violence of Borders

I recently visited Ceuta, a piece of the north African coast that belongs to Spain and is hence part of “Europe”. It was a very strange and disturbing experience to cross that border so easily just[...]

NSW Premier's Literary Awards

They've announced the winners of this year's NSW Premier's Literary Awards -- in horrible fashion at the official site and equally if differently horribly, in pdf format for the official 'media release'. Book of the year went to a play,...Show More Summary

Publishing in ... India

At Bloomberg Iain Marlow suggests India's Book-Buying Habits Say A Lot About The Country's Economy -- though the biggest take-away might be just how small the trade sector still is, with the industry dominated by school/text-books, which is where the money is.

Fifty years of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez's classic, One Hundred Years of Solitude (get your copy at or -- a book that surely belongs on any list of greatest novels of the past century -- was published fifty years ago (on 30 May,...Show More Summary

Denys Johnson-Davies (1922-2017)

Leading translator-from-the-Arabic Denys Johnson-Davies has passed away; see, for example the reports at Arabic Literature (in English) and ahramonline. Several of his translations are under review at the complete review -- as is his autobiographical Memories in Translation.

The Maids review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a late work by Tanizaki Jun'ichir?, The Maids, just out from New Directions. (Nice to see a bit of a revival of Tanizaki-interest -- and translations into English, as IShow More Summary

“Verde que te quiero verde”: Poems Written in Green

Living in Western Massachusetts instead of Baltimore this spring, I found myself rooting for the color green like its approach was a spectator sport. Baltimore’s springs arrive comparatively early and… Continue reading ?

Two Views of Richard Diebenkorn: From Figuration to Abstraction

In the spring of 2015 I was in London, where I had a few days to aimlessly stroll, browse the bookstores, and examine the world-class art that is all over the city (and still largely free, even in these austere times). One of the things I discovered entirely by accident was a retrospective of the Continue Reading

Seoul International Forum for Literature

The Seoul International Forum for Literature begins tomorrow, and in The Korea Times Yun Suh-young previews it, in Globally renowned writers to visit Seoul next week. The theme this year is: "Literature and Its Readership in the Changing World", and with J.M.G. Le Clézio and Svetlana Alexievich two Nobel laureates will be on hand.

Nobel finalists

Not very helpful, and not much different than in years past, but in her going-on summer-vacation post at her Ur Akademiens liv weblog the Swedish Academy's Sara Danius -- organizer of all things Nobel (Prize in Literature) -- reveals...Show More Summary

Mother Land review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Paul Theroux's latest novel, Mother Land, just out in the US (though only due in the UK in the fall). Stephen King reviewed it in The New York Times Book Review -- on Mother's Day -- though otherwise it hasn't gotten much coverage yet.

Rein Raud Q & A

At her The Book Binder's Daughter weblog Melissa Beck has a Q & A, May You Live in Interesting Times: My Interview with Estonian Author Rein Raud. I haven't seen his The Death of the Perfect Sentence yet (though I hope to, eventually), but both The Brother and The Reconstruction are under review at the complete review, and he's certainly an interesting author.

Prize: Etisalat Prize for Literature

They've announced the winner of the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature (though not yet at that official site, as I write this...), a prize for a first work of fiction by an African author, with a payout of £15,000. The prize went to And After Many Days, by Jowhor Ile; see, for example, the... Show More Summary

Prize: Wolfson History Prize

They announced the winner of the 2017 Wolfson History Prize last week. The £40,000 prize "for excellence in accessible and scholarly history" went to Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, by Christopher de Hamel. See also the Allen Lane...Show More Summary


They've announced that The City in Crimson Cloak-author Asl? Erdo?an will receive this year's €25,000 Erich-Maria-Remarque Peace Prize; previous winners include Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich (2001) and Adonis (last year)

Sophie Kerr Prize

They've announced that Catalina Righter has won this year's Sophie Kerr Prize, an undergraduate writing award given to a senior at Washington College that pays out more than the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award combined -- this year US$65,768. See also the article about the five finalists for the award.

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