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Nordic Council Literature Prize finalists

They've announced the finalists for the 2015 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Each country/territory gets to nominate a fiction and a poetry title (though some only put up one or another); among this year's entries are Karin Erlandsson's...Show More Summary

He Who Kills the Dragon review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Leif GW Persson's He Who Kills the Dragon. This came out in the UK in 2013 but has just been published in the US -- as Bäckström: He Who Kills the Dragon. Why ? BecauseShow More Summary

Farewell, One Page Magazine

Just about every week for more than two and a half years, I’ve contributed a tiny column about the meeting of history and the present day to the New York Times Magazine’s “One Page Magazine.” The constraints have been considerable — I usually operate in sixty to eighty words, or thereabouts, subject to the vagaries of column breaks and dictates […]

Like We Say Back Home, Vol. 3

In the past couple years my mom has taught me and reminded me of a few more of my Texan granny’s favorite expressions. Some highlights: Quiet as a little mouse peeing on cotton. (Usually used when someone reacts with stunned silence to some sort of diatribe or revelation.) You can’t get all your coons up one tree. (You can’t get […]

The Family Tree: Talks with Writers on Ancestry, for Tin House

    I’ve always been interested in the ways writers think about family history—and especially about echoes, or the lack thereof, through the generations—if they do, as they work. I’m grateful to Tin House for allowing me to indulge this curiosity in a new series of brief but wide-ranging interviews with authors about ancestry. First up, Christopher […]

Mystery in Monroeville

Maycomb may have been hot enough to wilt men’s collars before nine, but Monroeville in February has a chill. The tiny Alabama town where Harper Lee was born was shocked earlier this month by the announcement that, fifty-five years after...Show More Summary

Dear Readers

  If you’re interested, I’ve created a newsletter, ideas & intimacies, at Tiny Letter. As it says there: please, come and go as you please.

A Wintry Update

A longtime reader wrote to ask if everything’s okay. He was concerned because I post here so rarely. Everything is okay! My stepdaughter, Autumn, turned twenty-one! Often I still think of her as the little waving girl in the photo above. But she is an astounding young woman, a clear and compassionate thinker, a poet, […]

Family Tree: Slate, Tin House, Begats

At Slate, Ariel Bogle recaps a discussion I had last week with AJ Jacobs, Wilhelmina Rhodes-Kelly, and Chris Whitten on how technology is affecting the family tree. I talked a little bit about what drew me to research my ancestry in the first place. Although technology is changing the way we discover our personal histories, […]

Exorcising the Past: A Reading & Talk

On March 5, Marie Mutsuki Mockett and I will be reading and talking about exorcising the past (all meanings of exorcise possible) at McNally Jackson at 6 p.m. Marie’s wonderful new book, Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye, is about death and grief and family and ghosts and so much more. She’ll […]

Nobel nomination numbers

Nominations for the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature were due before 1 February, and at his weblog the still-in-charge-of-Nobel-matters (until the end of May) permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Peter Englund, now reports on the...Show More Summary

Festival Neue Literatur

The Festival Neue Literatur has started -- bringing some: "of the best emerging and established writers from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland to New York City for a long winter weekend". A solid program which you might want to check...Show More Summary

Bolaño literary criticism criticism

Cuban author Leonardo Padura (The Man Who Loved Dogs, etc.) isn't impressed by Roberto Bolaño as literary critic, calling him: "the worst literary critic of recent years", as Prensa Latina reports in Bolaño: Good Writer, Bad Literary...Show More Summary

Poetry Podcast: Rowan Ricardo Phillips Reads Nick Laird

On this month’s Poetry Podcast, Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads and discusses “Feel Free,” by the Irish poet Nick Laird. In the roving three-part poem, Laird addresses his son and daughter. “It seems as though the poem is everywhere,” Phillips says, “but by the time you get to near the end... you realize all the time you’ve been right there beside the sleeping children.”

Reading the Collections, Week 3: The Castle of Otranto

As a teenager, I spent much of my time wearing black velvet, listening to the Sisters of Mercy, and writing depressing poetry.  At university, I enrolled in classes like “Byron […]

Mishra on Murty Classical Library of India

In the Wall Street Journal Pankaj Mishra finds: 'An ambitious new library of Indian literature shows the cultural riches ignored by today's Hindu nationalists' in The Many Strands of Indian Identity, profiling the promising-soundingShow More Summary

Publishing in ... Zimbabwe

In The Herald, in Tawanda Marwizi's ‘Cry my beloved literature’, Aaron Chiundura Moyo complains that in Zimbabwe: Literature is now dead not because we don't have good writers but because of piracy. It's not only in music but it has killed our literature, It's not digital piracy that's the problem, but rather an older technology: photocopying.

Count Leo Tolstoy, My Companion/Un-Companion

On a recent trip back east I discovered my beat-up copy of Anna Karenina wedged in the K section of my friends’ book shelves, having forgotten I abandoned it there several winters ago while taking shelter during severe heartbreak. The exact page… Continue reading ?

Precious little

When I meet someone who loves Samuel Delany, I more or less assume we’ll become friends. I attach this assumption to some other writers, but for Delany it’s often proven to be true. He’s like Roland Barthes in that I have… Continue reading ?

Blacklisted from Birth: A Letter from Langston Hughes

In this week’s magazine, Hilton Als writes about the elusive life of Langston Hughes, and about a collection of Hughes’s letters that is out this month from Knopf. Below is one item from that volume: a 1952 letter that Hughes wrote to...Show More Summary

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