Literature

Booker Prize: tradition of multilingual writers seems to be dying out – more’s the pity

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Is it a coincidence that J.K. Rowling studied French and Classics? Or that Shakespeare wrote passages of dialogue in Welsh and French, suggesting that he was conversant in both? Authors: The Conversation To write successfully in your first language, it can help if you know a second – it is one way of seeing the world from another perspective and making comparisons, which is after all what literature is all about. But what of writers of contemporary literary fiction? Researchers ... Read More »

The Half-Life of Sexual Abuse in a Holocaust-Survivor Family

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Helen Epstein completes her clear-eyed, fearless, taboo-breaking autobiographical trilogy By Irena Klepfisz Tablet Helen Epstein began her career as a journalist with the publication of an article in the Jerusalem Post describing Soviet tanks rolling into Prague. It was 1968 and she was 20 years old. Since then she has become well known and greatly respected not only as a journalist but as a biographer, editor, and Czech translator with a wide range of interests: music and theater, psychoanalysis, and… Among her ... Read More »

Édouard Louis: ‘I want to be a writer of violence. The more you talk about it, the more you can undo it’

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His debut about his violent childhood was an international sensation. Now the French author has written a novel about being brutally assaulted Angelique Chrisafis The Guardian In the lonely, shell-shocked days after Édouard Louis was raped and almost killed in his Paris flat in 2012 – as he sat through tense interviews with police officers or scrubbed his home to get rid of his attacker’s smell – he felt the urgent need to write about it. “I had told the police my story,” says the ... Read More »

Kamila Shamsie wins Women’s prize for fiction for ‘story of our times’

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Home Fire, which reworks Sophocles’ Antigone to tell the story of a British family caught up by Isis, takes £30,000 award Alison Flood The Guardian Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, which reworks Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone to tell the story of a British Muslim family’s connection to Islamic State, has won the Women’s prize for fiction, acclaimed by judges as “the story of our times”. The British Pakistani author’s seventh novel riffs on the ancient Greek play in which Antigone is forbidden ... Read More »

5 Latino authors you should be reading now

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You likely recognize that the depiction of Latin American immigrants in politics today – as a menacing mass of recalcitrant Spanish-speaking invaders – is overwhelmingly negative. Laura Lomas The Conversation What you may not know is that stereotypes suggesting that Latin Americans represent a threat to United States culture are not just morally repugnant – they’re also historically inaccurate. Spanish-language literature actually predates the Puritans’ writing in English by nearly a century. As my research reveals, many renowned Latin American ... Read More »

How Shakespeare used music to tell stories

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Today we fully expect film, television and theatre to use music to shape meaning. Simon Smith The Conversation The screeching violins of Psycho and the menacing Jaws theme, for instance, both depend upon a shared 20th-century dramatic language in which music indicates mood. Rewind 400 years and it may not seem like the same is true. Take Shakespearean drama. Many modern productions choose to avoid historical music altogether, preferring new compositions or pre-recorded popular songs that more obviously indicate mood ... Read More »

How One Hundred Years of Solitude Redefined Latin America

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When Gabriel García Márquez wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude, he reimagined the genesis of his continent. That had real political impact, writes Felipe Restrepo Pombo. BBC Before One Hundred Years of Solitude, Latin America bore certain similarities to the imaginary place described in the first paragraph of the novel: “The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point”. The continent, obviously, wasn’t a new place when Gabriel ... Read More »

Philip Roth, Towering Novelist Who Explored Lust, Jewish Life and America, Dies at 85

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Philip Roth, the prolific, protean, and often blackly comic novelist who was a pre-eminent figure in 20th-century literature, died on Tuesday night at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 85. Charles McGrath The New York Times The cause was congestive heart failure, said the writer Judith Thurman, a close friend. Mr. Roth had homes in Manhattan and Connecticut. In the course of a very long career, Mr. Roth took on many guises — mainly versions of himself — in the ... Read More »

Australia’s taste for translated literature is getting broader, and that’s a good thing

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With today’s announcement of the winner of the Man Booker International Prize shortlist, translation again finds itself in the foreground of the literary landscape. Alice Whitmore The Conversation This year’s shortlist includes novels translated from a diverse array of languages including Arabic (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi), Hungarian (László Krasznahorkai’s The World Goes On) and Korean (The White Book by Han Kang). In 2016, the prize evolved from a biennial event, designed to honour one living author’s overall contribution ... Read More »

Tom Wolfe elevated journalism into enduring literature

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In 20th-century popular culture, journalists were portrayed as needy hacks desperate to write the Great American Novel. William McKeen The Conversation Journalism was the means to an end that few achieved. But Tom Wolfe, who died May 14 at age 88, helped change that in the 1960s. He was one of the New Journalists, who wrote nonfiction using the techniques of fiction. As an example: Journalists had long been trained to use direct quotations sparingly and to look for money ... Read More »

Man Booker International Prize shortlist a boon for small publishers

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Six books, six languages, two former winners and a bonanza for independent publishers: the Man Booker International Prize – the UK’s most prestigious prize for translated fiction – has announced its 2018 shortlist. Amy Rushton The Conversation Whittled down from a longlist of 13 titles spanning the globe, the six titles to make the cut are translated from Arabic, French, Hungarian, Korean, Spanish and Polish. This year’s nominations have been selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by novelist ... Read More »

Alexis Wright wins 2018 Stella Prize for Tracker

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Alexis Wright has been awarded the 2018 Stella Prize for her remarkable biography of Aboriginal leader, thinker and entrepreneur, Tracker Tilmouth. Arts Review Tracker is a book uniquely written by weaving and layering first-person stories told about him as well as by him. It embeds Aboriginal traditions of oral and collective storytelling to create a new way of writing memoir – ‘giving many voices a part in the story’. In announcing the $50,000 prize at the Museum of Contemporary Art in ... Read More »

Provocative, political, speculative: your guide to the 2018 Stella shortlist

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Six years ago, The Stella Prize burst onto the Australian literary scene with an air of urgency. The A$50,000 award was the progeny of the Stella Count – a campaign highlighting the under-representation of women authors in book reviews and awards lists. Camilla Nelson The Conversation In the years since, the prize has challenged the gendered ways in which we think about “significance” and “seriousness” in literature. Judging a literary award is invariably a contest of aesthetics and politics. And ... Read More »

The Stella Prize 2018 shortlist continues to shake up the Australian literary landscape

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In 2011 at an International Women’s Day event in Melbourne, the panel of female authors, publishers and literary journalists noted that over the entirety of its 55-year run, only 10 women had been awarded the Miles Franklin, widely considered to be Australia’s most prestigious… Patrick Carey ABC It seemed especially ironic given that Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, who wrote under her last two names as means of obscuring her gender, is generally thought of as Australia’s first great… Rather ... Read More »

Where the Brownshirts Came From

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Book review: Hitler’s stormtroopers were more representative of German society and politically relevant for longer than previous historians acknowledged. James H. Barnett The Weekly Standard The key to reading history of Nazi Germany, a wise professor once explained to me, is to attempt to understand the logic and mentality of those who embraced the Nazi movement without ever losing sight of what an ultimately absurd and fundamentally evil project theirs… This is the approach readers must bring to Daniel Siemens’s Stormtroopers: ... Read More »

Meg Wolitzer’s New Novel Takes On the Politics of Women’s Mentorship

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It will be tempting for most critics to approach “The Female Persuasion” through the lens of the current political climate — perhaps nigh impossible for them not to. Lena Dunham The New York Times Meg Wolitzer’s 12th novel begins with a campus assault that leads to a protest that leads to an intergenerational feminist debate that takes a turn for the toxic. It’s as if a healthy portion of the Twittersphere were aggregated, swallowed and spit back out as the ... Read More »