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Top Book Blogs 05/2014

[The Millions] Collared or Untied: Reflections on Work in American Culture
1. Fred Armisen opened the first season of the TV show Portlandia singing “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland,” a dream of pierced, tattooed folks hanging out, hot girls wearing glasses and putting images of birds on everything, and grown-ups making a living making coffee. He asks Carrie

[Guardian Books Blog] International prize for Arabic fiction turns to Iraq
Ahmed Saadawi becomes first Iraqi to win the 'Arabic Booker' for Frankenstein in BaghdadIraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi has won the Arab world's most prestigious prize, the International prize for Arabic fiction, beating five other writers from around the Arab world. Continue reading...

[Guardian Books Blog] Scanner for ebook cannot tell its 'arms' from its 'anus'
A technical problem with optical character recognition software creates some awkward moments in romantic novelsSmart Bitches, Trashy Books is already one of my favourite books blogs, but editor Sarah Wendell has now raced to the top of my list for, well, everything after her amazing spot

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Sentenced to death
What botched executions tell us about the death penalty

[Guardian Books Blog] May's Reading group: Leave It To Psmith by PG Wodehouse
Wodehouse's dandyish journalist must get to the bottom of farcical events at Blandings Castle in this rip-roaring comedyLeave It To Psmith has come out of the hat. This is the second novel in the much-loved Blandings Castle saga, and the fourth and last featuring Psmith (with a silent 'P').

[The Millions] The Golden Age of Women Essayists
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural

[The Millions] A New Generation’s Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless book, but until now it’s only been in the dated medium of print. However, Harper Lee announced that she is allowing her novel to become an ebook and digital audiobook. “I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Tom Lutz Interviews T.C. Boyle

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: A dog-eat-dog world
Spread around among a wider variety of people

[The Millions] New Octavia Butler
When Octavia Butler died in 2006, she left behind unseen short stories. Butler’s agent has discovered two unpublished stories in the author’s papers. “A Necessary Being” features a lonely alien leader, and “Childminder” is about mentoring telepaths. The two

[Salon Books] #WeNeedDiverseBooks goes viral
It's well known that even in 2014, America needs more diversity in, well, pretty much every field imaginable. But the same goes for realms beyond real life: Our fiction is sadly just as dominated by straight white men as the physical world is. To call attention to this fact, a group of activists and

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Bookforum's "The Night we Called it a Day"

[The Millions] Crying with John Green
Watching your book be adapted into a film can be a challenge for an author. At Vulture, John Green discusses his involvement in The Fault in Our Stars adaptation, which he has nothing but positive things to say about. “It was a joke on the movie that I cried every day. But I cried every day

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The promise of development
Beginning of the end of the neoliberal approach to development

[The Millions] It’s Hard to be a Protagonist
“‘I just want to be normal,’ she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.” At The

[NYT] F. Scott Fitzgerald, Uncut, in a New Edition of Short Stories
A new edition of Fitzgerald's story collection "Taps at Reveille" includes versions that hew more closely to the author's original typescripts.

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
There's little relief to be found in Roxane Gay's riveting debut novel, An Untamed State. No air in the madly hot room Mireille Duval Jameson is forced to live in for 13 harrowing days. No sense of self as her armed kidnappers erase every boundary she tries to preserve. No escape from the polarized

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Maria Popova vs. Buzzfeed…
Buzzfeed took down a post after Maria Popova complained that the site had reposted images that Popova had herself scanned for one of her own articles, about a rare 1995 edition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. According to Popova, Buzzfeed had represented the images

[Lit Saloon] May online issues
       Among the May issues of online publications now available is Words without Borders', focussed on Writing on Taboos from the Netherlands and Flanders.        Meanwhile, Dalkey Archive Press finally have a new issue of

[Lit Saloon] US university literary prizes
       Like the French, American literary book- (as opposed to author-)prizes tend to be about prestige rather than cash: the biggest pay out relatively/very little by international standards (the Pulitzer and National Book Award winners get $10,000, the

[Lit Saloon] The Time Regulation Institute enthusiasm
       At the PEN Atlas site Kaya Genç wonders whether Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar's The Time Regulation Institute is, in fact, The Greatest Turkish Novel ?

[The Millions] A Beautiful Man: On Peter Parker and the Amazing Spider-Man
1. Peter Parker was born in 1945 and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, under the care of his uncle and aunt. Ben Parker was a gentle man. May was a doting but naïve caregiver. Peter was a prodigy and Ben and May Parker encouraged his scientific aspirations. It was a happy home, but at school Peter

[Guardian Books Blog] Humanity's future depends upon good grammar | Hadley Freeman
The Bad Grammar award has been charged with sneering misanthropy, but as a judge I say that our children's lives are at stake Blog: The Bad Grammar award is prize stupiditySo far in my four decades, I have lived a life blissfully free of controversy. No paparazzi have ever staked out my front door

[Guardian Books Blog] Poster poems: Owls | Billy Mills
These awesome creatures have inspired much poetry. Now it's your turn let your muse take flightDriving home late the other week I was startled by a sudden apparition that flew out of the night, passed in front of my car and disappeared again. It was, of course, an owl, that great symbolic bird whose

[Salon Books] Ralph Nader: “The left is seized by fear and the right is driven by brass”
Say what you will about Ralph Nader -- and most of you probably have -- the man is tireless and persistent.Now 80, Nader has a new book with the triumphant title of "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State." And even if you're not convinced that alliance is

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Of contemporary French philosophy
Philosophy and non-philosophy

[Guardian Books Blog] Eating your words: the joy of literary cookbooks
A recipe book recreating a flavour of the Bloomsbury group has been added to a feast of menus available to voracious readersFor collectors of literary recipes, a significant gap was recently filled with the publication of Jans Ondaatje Rolls's The Bloomsbury Cookbook. Eating the same meals as

[Salon Books] Inside Junot Díaz’s class at MIT: What the writer wants his students to read
On the same week that activists called for more diversity in fiction, the New Yorker published a compelling essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and MIT professor Junot Díaz, in which Díaz criticized MFA programs for their overwhelming whiteness. "Lately I’ve been reading about MFA vs NYC,"

[The Millions] Authenticity and New Orleans
Writing for n+1’s City by City series, Moira Donegan remarks on the “self-defeating contradictions” of working at a nonprofit in New Orleans. It’s a town, she writes, where most arrive to either “perform charity or to party,” and where, she feels, “many of the people who … come to

[The Millions] “The Black Count”
True Detective director Cary Fukunaga will soon turn his attention to a biopic about Alexandre Dumas’s father.

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
There's little relief to be found in Roxane Gay's riveting debut novel, An Untamed State. No air in the madly hot room Mireille Duval Jameson is forced to live in for 13 harrowing days. No sense of self as her armed kidnappers erase every boundary she tries to preserve. No escape from the polarized

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Start paying attention
The proper market price for any single one

[The Millions] Dubliners 100
The 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Dubliners occurs this month, and the occasion is being celebrated with the launch of Dubliners 100, a “reimagining and rewriting of the 15 original stories by a range of well-established and promising writers.” Among the modern writers

[NYT] New ‘Princess Diaries’ Books Coming, for Older and Younger Readers
Meg Cabot plans to publish two new Princess Diaries books in 2015, including a novel for adult readers and the first in a middle-grade series.

[NYT] Edgar Awards Handed Out for Top Mystery Works
William Kent Krueger won the Edgar for best novel for "Ordinary Grace."

[The Millions] Where to Start with Krasznahorkai?
If news of László Krasznahorkai winning his second straight Best Translated Book Award for his recent novella, Seiobo There Below, got you interested in reading the Hungarian author’s works, then look no further. Scott Esposito offers a handy road map entitled “Krasznahorkai: A Guide for the

[NYT] A Great War Reading List at PEN World Voices Festival
Geoff Dyer, Liesl Schillinger, Justin Go and Janne Teller discussed the literature of World War I at an event on Wednesday night.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: War within the constitution
Is there a duty to use drones?

[The Millions] Harvard University Press’s Redistribution of Wealth
Flushed with cash after the runaway success of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the Harvard University Press has decided to offer a 20% discount off two dozen works on capitalism and its discontents. Get to it while the gettin’s good.

[NYT] Book Review Podcast: Ayelet Waldman’s ‘Love and Treasure’
Ms. Waldman discusses her new novel, which tells a multigenerational story set in Salzburg and Budapest.

[NYT] George R.R. Martin on ‘Game of Thrones’ and Sexual Violence
The novelist says that his work is grounded in history and that to omit acts of rape or sexual violence from a narrative about war and power would be dishonest.

[Lit Saloon] Translation in ... Malta
       In Malta Today Teodor Reljic considers The necessary perils of literary translation, as tiny -- and linguistically isolated -- Malta looks to spreading Maltese literature abroad.        Interestingly -- and realistically:

[Lit Saloon] Re-Kivi ! Seven Brothers competition
       Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers is basically the classic Finnish novel -- but its impact abroad has been ... not so impressive. My review is of the very creaky 1929 translation, and there's been another one since then, but neither helped the book break through

[Lit Saloon] Triangle review
       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Matsuura Hisaki's Triangle, coming out from Dalkey Archive Press.

[Guardian Books Blog] From Houllebecq to Rushdie: the authors who took to the silver screen
Michel Houllebecq may be the first author to have a whole film built around him, but thespian turns by authors are by no means uncommonIn The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, just given its US premiere at the Tribeca festival, the eponymous French novelist stars as himself. Guillaume Nicloux's film

[The Millions] “You are pioneers.”
Recommended Reading: Rob Hart’s short short, “Foodies,” which concerns itself with the fine art of “human charcuterie.”

[Salon Books] Why whites don’t see racism: Reagan Democrats are Stephen Colbert Democrats now
There is a perception gap in the electorate between blacks and non-blacks about affirmative action in college admissions and between whites and non-whites about issues of racial inequality generally. For example, a CNN survey conducted in 2009 found that 55 percent of blacks thought discrimination

[The Millions] A Life’s Recipe
Just about every review of Virginia Zaharieva’s Nine Rabbits calls attention to its “narrative virtuosity” and the way it “packs several genres into one.” That might sound like empty praise until you check out this excerpt for yourself, and see that the book is not only a memoir, and a

[The Millions] Bard’s Bard
This week brought news that NOX, Antigonick, and Red Doc> author Anne Carson is headed to Annandale-on-Hudson to become Bard College’s “Visiting Distinguished Writer in Residence.” Carson’s praise has been sung far and wide on The Millions, and even earned admiration from a pair of Janes:

[Salon Books] Astra Taylor’s radical Internet critique: “I don’t want to give in to the libertarian logic of our time”
Astra Taylor, a Canadian-born documentary filmmaker who was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, has just released “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.” Harder-edged politically than many Internet books, “The People’s Platform” looks at

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