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Semmelweis review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Louis-Ferdinand Céline's dissertation (for his medical degree !), the very surprising Semmelweis. It's a neat little edition from Atlas -- though the exhortation the publisher prints on the back cover ("File under: Fiction") is... well, what it is.

A Traitor to His Tribe

Sometime during the South African winter of 1976, the novelist André Brink composed an essay for the Japanese magazine Asahi Journal. In it, he posed a question that was both rhetorical and piercingly immediate: “What is the function,...Show More Summary

BTBA (re)scheduling

The judges for the Best Translated Book Awards (I'm one of them, in the fiction category) continue to sift and select (and, yes, are still welcoming incoming books -- it's (almost) never too late, and thanks, publishers, for sending in titles !) but, for those waiting with bated breath for the announced 2 March longlist announcement... Show More Summary

The A26 review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pascal Garnier's The A26 -- out for a while already in the UK, from Gallic Books, but now finally also making it to the US.

Geek Sublime by Vikram Chandra

Twenty-five centuries ago, a Hindu scholar named Panini produced an analysis of the Sanskrit language so remarkable that later language theorists such as Ferdinand de Saussure would eventually cite it as the foundation of linguistics itself. Panini shows up in Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty, a new book by novelist and computer...

1215 and all that …

So, 2015 is the anniversary year for Magna Carta – 800 years on and the document still has clauses in legal force and has a powerful appeal as ‘a touchstone […]

Look Again

Many of Edith Pearlman’s short stories involve characters who are listening to others or spying on them—the twin conduits, the detail-rich supply lines, of this subtle writer’s system. Listening is, or should be, intimate, while spying...Show More Summary

Holy Writ

I didn’t set out to be a comma queen. The first job I ever had, the summer I was fifteen, was checking feet at a public pool in Cleveland. I was a “key girl”—“Key personnel” was the job title on my pay stub. I never knew what that was supposed to mean. Show More Summary

Haïlji profile

In The Korea Herald Joel Lee profiles the The Republic of Užupis-author, in Seoul Literary Society hosts novelist Ha Il-ji (or, as Dalkey Archive Press transliterated the name, Haïlji). Among the information of interest: When writing...Show More Summary

Philip Levine (1928-2015)

Yet another of the old(est) guard of American poets has passed away; Philip Levine. See, for example, the obituary in The New York Times, and Philip Levine at Poetry (lots of information, as well as samples of his work).

Words Onscreen review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Naomi S. Baron's nook on The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, Words Onscreen. Certainly an interesting topic -- and I'll have to write at greater length at some point about my own struggles handling (I barely dare say 'reading'...) texts in digital formats.

Links & Reviews

Lots to cover once again. Here goes:- The Bavarian government has returned more than 500 books stolen from the Girolamini and other Italian libraries. The books were seized from the Munich auction house Zisska & Schauer in 2012.- The...Show More Summary

Weekend Reading: Class Warfare at Burning Man, and More

For Bloomberg, Felix Gillette chronicles the class warfare that has divided Burning Man in recent years as wealthy venture capitalists have begun taking part in the event. One of the festival’s wealthy champions, Jim Tananbaum, hosted a sequestered camp at last year’s festival for which he charged guests more than sixteen thousand dollars each. Show More Summary

The Elements of Academic Style by Eric Hayot

Dr. Parenti: We get the grant, we study the problem, we propose solutions. If they listen, they listen. If they don't, it still makes for great research. What we publish on this is gonna get a lot of attention. Colvin: From who? Dr. Parenti: From other researchers, academics. Show More Summary

UK library lending

They've released the latest Public Lending Right numbers, where they reveal the most-borrowed titles by UK library users -- since authors get a small amount for each time their books find a taker (up to a maximum of £6,600). In The Guardian...Show More Summary

Submission mega-success

The English translation of Michel Houellebecq's Submission is now available for pre-order at -- but the book itself is only due 10 September. Meanwhile, it is doing very well not only in France, but also Italy and Germany...Show More Summary

IPAF shortlist

They've announced the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. At her Arabic Literature (in English) M.Lynx Qualey has an overview and useful additional links. The winner will be announced 6 May.

Jonathan Franzen Q & A

At Booth Susan Lerner has A Conversation with Jonathan Franzen. At least one interesting reveal -- less about him than about authentication-processes at social media sites: It's tedious every six months to have to send a photograph of...Show More Summary

Slaves in their Chains review

The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Konstantinos Theotokis' Slaves in their Chains. Good to see this 1922 Greek novel made available in English -- from Angel Classics, in a nice volume with Introduction and translation by J.M.Q.Davies.

On Writing About Suicide and Not Finding Catharsis

My brother died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound nearly twenty years ago. One thing that I learned fairly quickly is that if you want to bring any conversation to an abrupt and awkward halt, you can hardly do better than to mention the fact that your brother died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Show More Summary

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