The book was just published by Knopf, and is already a top seller on Amazon, and got the kind of author profile in last Sunday’s The New York Times that is usually jet fuel for a book to film deal. Trouble is, the author is in prison until 2020 for committing the bank robberies that are described in harrowing detail in the novel. And late this week, he ran out of phone minutes and will not be able to entertain any offers until he can again use the jailhouse phone on Sunday.
In 17th-and-18th-century Europe and America, storage boxes of all kinds proliferated: bible boxes, bridle boxes, voting boxes, keepsake boxes for baby’s first tooth and lock of hair, and photo boxes, among others. Writing boxes stored physical writing tools as well as ephemeral fruits of writing—traces of literacy, ritual, and memory. Like laptops today, writing boxes were common tools of working writers.
The country used to have a three percent literacy rate, and now it’s around 60 percent. “The number of bookshops is increasing; there are around a dozen in the capital, Thimphu, and a few more in far-flung districts. Bhutanese writers are publishing books more than ever before — fantasy novels, poetry, short story collections and especially folklore.” And then there’s the international literary festival.
Two friends in very different circumstances try to reread together, but it’s not the same – especially when it comes to the magic mirror that shows someone’s deepest desires. “This shift in her life’s longing was so obviously different from mine that we could no longer avoid the fact of our 12-year separation.”
The 11th-century verse epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings), the longest poem ever written by a single author (Abolqasem Ferdowsi) is perhaps the single most important source of the history and lore of pre-Islamic Persian civilization. It’s also considered the founding work of the modern Persian language, and some give it credit for the language’s survival.
“In my view, poetry is the most organic art form; it does not require money or physical labor. A poem doesn’t need to follow any particular grammar rules; it is the record of one’s own experience of the singular mind and/or body, a singular voice. For many of us, it is also a way of “being in the world,” a world that in many ways was not made for us and actively resists our participation. Through poetry, we are able to remake and reinvent that world.”