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Jurek Becker's Jacob the Liar

I'm puzzled by a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article by Jochen Hieber looking back at the literature of GDR -- and making the claim that only one work of true 'world literature' was produced under the East German regime (arguing that...Show More Summary

Birth of a Bridge review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Maylis de Kerangal multiple-award-winning 2010 novel, Birth of a Bridge, now available in English from Talonbooks.

Links & Reviews

- On my way to Boston this week for the 38th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (look for me at the Rare Book School table) I'll be stopping off in Providence to give a talk, "Ownership Marks in Early American Books: Outliers...Show More Summary

The Unsaid: The Silence of Virginia Woolf

This essay is from an introduction to a new Italian translation, by Anna Nadotti, of “To the Lighthouse,” which will be published later this month by Einaudi. Here is where the artist Adeline Virginia Stephen was born. She lived in this house, at 22 Hyde Park Gate, in west London, for the first twenty-two years of her life. Show More Summary

Zone in the TLS

Mathias Enard’s mega-one-sentence-novel Zone is finally published in the UK, from Fitzcarraldo Editions. While full stops are conscientiously omitted, there is no end of conventional punctuation: commas, colons, semi-colons, parentheses, hyphens, and so on. Show More Summary

Perec’s Sort of First Novel to be Published

David Bellos in The Guardian. Georges Perec never made a secret of having written an unpublished early novel about Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man, but after his death in 1982, the manuscript of Le Condottière couldn’t be found. Show More Summary

Good News for Penguin

Ed Park, exit Amazon, enter Penguin. Incidentally, pretty much everything about this article puts the lie to Matt Yglesias’s insipid Vox blog post about how useless publishers are. But now, in the latest setback for Amazon’s publishing aspirations, Mr. Show More Summary

Seeing the light in a dark room: Paper as Evidence Workshop hosted by School of History and Special Collections

Material culture can prove beneficial, if not essential, to help us understand historical events, literature, science and art. Throughout the history of mankind, the materiality of day-to-day life has had […]

Whipping Boy

In 1971, I met a boy who changed my life forever. I was ten and he was twelve when, for a few indelible months, we roomed together in a British-style boarding school perched on an alpine meadow high above Geneva.

Laugh Factory

When I was a teen-ager, I sort of hated Bob Hope. All of us did. Generationally crazy about the classics of American comedy—Groucho and Chaplin and Keaton and W. C. Fields—movie-loving kids could, in the nineteen-seventies, afford to be pious about the industrious, blue-collar types of that dispensation. Show More Summary

This Week in Fiction: Dave Eggers

“The Alaska of Giants and Gods,” your story in this week’s issue, is about a woman who shows up in Alaska with her two kids, determined to find someone bold, someone of substance. When did you first think of setting a story in Alaska?...Show More Summary

New old Georges Perec novel

In The Guardian Georges Perec-biographer David Bellos explains How Georges Perec's lost first novel has finally come to be published as Perec's Portrait of a Man is now coming out in English (well, in the UK; American readers will have...Show More Summary

Daphne Awards

They've held the first Daphne Awards -- a great idea, reassessing the best books of 50 years ago (1963, for this first go) -- and they've now announced the winners. The fiction prize went to the eminently worthy The Ice Palace, by Tarjei...Show More Summary

Self-publishing Arno Schmidt

As I mentioned last week, I've released a little book, Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy. (I hesitate to say 'published' because it's not yet widely available via many distributors (currently only in Kindle-form ( (US), More Summary

The Empty Space Where A Peace Movement Should Be

Exactly one hundred years ago today, there was still some hope that the monstrous war that had just broken out between (in quick succession) Serbia, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Turkey might be over by Christmas. Show More Summary

Murakami picks up Welt-Literaturpreis

Not quite the Nobel, either cash- or prestige-wise (but, hey, Philip Roth did win it (2009) -- albeit six years after... Jeffrey Eugenides), but the Welt-Literaturpreis has a decent list of winners (Kertész Imre, Jonathan Franzen, the...Show More Summary

Avelum review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Otar Chiladze's 1995 novel, Avelum: A Survey of the Current Press and a Few Love Affairs, which came out in Donald Rayfield's translation from Garnett Press last year. With...Show More Summary

Weekend Reading: Margaret Keane, Tupperware Parties, and More

It’s hard not to feel some admiration for Frank Bourassa, the small-time criminal turned big-time counterfeiter whom Wells Tower wrote about recently for GQ. After years of exhibiting a remarkable talent for dreaming up and executing...Show More Summary

Flannery O’Connor’s Manhattan Memorial

This week, Flannery O’Connor was inducted into the American Poets Corner at St. John the Divine, the “only shrine to American literature in the country” (or so a church representative told me). Upon entering the cathedral for the small...Show More Summary

The Berlin Wall in The New Yorker

Construction of the Berlin Wall started on August 13, 1961. In October of the next year, The New Yorker published “Die Mauer” (“The Wall”), a Profile of the Berlin Wall, written by John Bainbridge. Bainbridge travelled to Berlin, walked along the Wall, and collected stories of East Berliners who had tried, with and without success, to escape. Show More Summary

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