10/8/20 — Literary News Roundup

Recently Released

The American literary critic and poet has written a book entitled The Blessing and the Curse: The Jewish People and Their Books in the Twentieth Century. A work of literary criticism, the book surveys 20th century Jewish writing of all genres and looks at how the work has been shaped by “four themes that shaped the twentieth century in Jewish literature and culture: Europe, America, Israel, and the endeavor to reimagine Judaism as a modern faith.”

The writer Phil Klay — whose first book of short stories, Redeployment, won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction — has published his debut novel Missionaries. Like his debut collection of short stories, Missionaries deals with martial themes and follows a group of characters who find themselves implicated in complex military-political conflicts in Colombia.

Speaking of Colombia, there was recently published a translated collection Gabriel García Márquez’s journalistic efforts. Entitled The Scandal of the Century and Other Writings, it pulls together journalistic writing from the earliest phases of his career to near the end of his life. It’s certainly an interesting look at what García Márquez considered to be some of his most important writing, or should help to provide a deeper understanding of a man mostly known in the Anglosphere for his novels.

It’s Always Award Season for Literature

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” It’s actually a fairly unexpected pick, and the betting odds were not particularly in her favor. It’s not exactly Bob-Dylan-winning-the-Nobel-Prize surprising, but it’s still somewhat of a surprise. Louise Glück certainly sounds…sleepily, warily surprised…in her Nobel Prize phone call. I’m very pleased with the selection of Glück to win the prize and I intend to discuss some of my favorite of her poems in tomorrow’s Weekly Reading Review.

The finalists for the 2020 National Book have been announced. Sadly, I’ve neither read any of the nominated book nor anything else by their authors. If you have, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Additionally, the MacArthur Genius grants for 2020 have been announced. Among the recipients are N. K. Jemisin and Larissa FastHorse. The New York Times has done a write up featuring small interviews with them and the other recipients.

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