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The Lingering Legacy of Psychedelia

Steve Jobs claimed that dropping acid was one of the most important things he had ever done in his life. “LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin,” he said, “and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it.”Show More Summary

The Power of Ritual and Routine?

What power does ritual and routine hold in a writer’s life? It obviously depends on the writer. “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” wrote W.H. Auden in 1958, further stating that “A modern stoic knows that… Continue reading ?

Prize: Man Booker International Prize

They've announced that the 2016 Man Booker International Prize goes to The Vegetarian (by Han Kang, and translated by Deborah Smith -- who share the ©50,000 winnings). (A reminder that the Man Booker International Prize used to be aShow More Summary

Prize: Joseph-Breitbach-Preis

They've announced that the 2016 Joseph-Breitbach-Preis will be awarded to Reiner Stach, for his work in literary biography -- specifically, his three-volume Kafka biography, the final volume (covering Kafka's earliest years) of which...Show More Summary

Prizes: NSW Premier's Literary Awards

They've announced the winners of this year's (Australian) NSW Premier's Literary Awards -- possibly even at the official site, but I can't make heads or tails (much less want to wade through) that user-unfriendliest of abominations. Fortunately,...Show More Summary

The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction in the UK

My book, The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction came out in the US last month, and today is apparently the offical UK (and beyond...) publication date -- so if you haven't pre-ordered or gotten your copy yet, you can...Show More Summary

Why Tolstoy Took Up Tennis

Several years ago, while researching a book about trying to become a serious senior tennis player in my sixties, I happened upon a photograph on the Tumblr feed of The Millions, the online literary site. In the foreground, there stands an elderly fellow wielding a wooden racquet in his right hand. Show More Summary

What a Wicked Game

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow To the shadow of a horse —James Wright, “Sitting in a small screenhouse on a summer morning”   You finish this essay after a three-hour downpour in Hong Kong, sitting on… Continue readi...

In Praise of Older Siblings, Part I: Fact-Checking My Life

I remember it like this: I’m a child, daydreaming in my mother’s minivan as we drive along a winding, mountainous highway in Pennsylvania. One brother is beside me, and the other is in the far back row of seats. We’re… Continue reading ?

With Friends Like These

Another delightful passage from Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach (tr. Shelley Frisch). Kafka had some relations with this strange individual and even attempted to start a magazine with him (fortunately for Kafka, it never got even close to coming together).

The Books I Kept

When I was growing up in Rochester, NY, in the 1980s, you could drive to Monroe Avenue on the east side of the city and spend the afternoon wandering between bookstores. My friend Karen and I would make our way… Continue reading ?

Work It

Suzanne, a young woman in San Francisco, met a man—call him John—on the dating site OKCupid. John was attractive and charming. More notably, he indulged in the kind of profligate displays of affection which signal a definite eagerness to commit. Show More Summary

This Week in Fiction: Lauren Groff on the Cult of Motherhood

Your story in this week’s issue, “The Midnight Zone,” is about a spring-break vacation that goes wrong. How did you come up with the setting—an old hunting cabin in Florida?

Shalimar the Clown, the opera ?

Yes, apparently the world premiere of an opera version of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown -- music by Jack Perla, libretto by Rajiv Joseph -- will take place at the Opera Theatre of St.Louis 11 June.

ZIBF preparations

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair runs 27 to 30 July this year, and in The Herald they're suggesting It's time to revamp ZIBF. There's much reveling in what once was -- "ZIBF used to be one of the prestigious events on the local arts...Show More Summary

The Widow review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's 1942 novel, The Widow -- one of his darker, non-Maigret titles, which New York Review Books re-issued a couple of years ago This was made into a film in...Show More Summary

Prize: Sunday Times Fiction Prize shortlist

They've announced the shortlist for this year's (South African) Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize The winner will be announced 25 June.

Prize: Dylan Thomas Prize

The International Dylan Thomas Prize is only limitedly international -- "The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under", but I guess 'international' sounds better than 'monolingual'... Show More Summary

Frédéric Dard

Good to see some Frédéric Dard anticipation-excitement building, as Pushkin Press are set to publish a couple by the prolific (and super-best-selling) French master -- even if it comes with horrific headlines such as 'Unknown' French...Show More Summary

Episodes in the Early Days of Bookselling

It’s nice to be reminded of a time when people found the vulgarity of the market authentically shocking Found in Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach. Vulgar as he was, Georg Meyer, it seems, was an excellent salesperson. He came close to making Kafka a successful writer in terms of sales and fame. Continue Reading

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