WORDS

How Canadian Literature Blew Up

In an attention economy, controversy has value. It’s no exaggeration to say these political battles within CanLit now dominate the discussion of Canadian writers and writing. The “appropriation prize” controversy, for example, blew up in a journal that few people had ever heard of much less read, and yet it garnered an enormous amount of national media coverage. And, while Joseph Boyden is a bestselling, award-winning novelist, he is probably better known today for questions raised about whether or not he qualifies as an Indigenous author.

The Contemporary Novel Might Not Look Familiar, But It’s Thriving

The familiar world becomes alien within a single lifespan. In such a world of relentless evolution, art is perpetually in danger of being outstripped, every “realism” of describing a vanished reality. Just as capitalism erases difference to make way for a homogenous global anti-culture, artistic traditions are swept aside, denounced as irrelevant almost as soon as they have established themselves. Today, Ezra Pound’s modernist command to Make It New! sounds like nothing so much as a corporate slogan for Apple or Huawei. Capitalism and the avant garde check each other out from across the room, seeing much to admire.

National Book Awards 2018 To Sigrid Nunez’s ‘The Friend’, Jeffrey C. Stewart’s ‘The New Negro’

Alongside the fiction prize to Nunez’s novel about a bereaved writer and his Great Dane and the nonfiction prize to Stewart’s biography of philosopher Alain Locke, honors went to Justin Phillip Reed’s Indecency (poetry), Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani for The Emissary (translated literature), and Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X (young people’s literature). Isabel Allende became the first Spanish-language author to receive the lifetime achievement award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

OED’s 2018 Word Of The Year: ‘Toxic’

“The word was chosen less for statistical reasons, [the U.S. head of Oxford Dictionaries] said, than for the sheer variety of contexts in which it has proliferated, from conversations about environmental poisons to laments about today’s poisonous political discourse to the #MeToo movement, with its calling out of ‘toxic masculinity.'” The runners-up were “gaslighting” and “incel.” (Last week, rival dictionary Collins declared its word of the year to be “single-use.”)

Kuwait Bans ‘Brothers Karamazov’

Maybe it’s not too surprising that a conservative Arab monarchy has already banned the likes of 1984 (too subversive) to One Hundred Years of Solitude (too racy) to Disney’s Little Mermaid (Ariel’s top is too skimpy). But the crop of 948 new titles blocked from presentation at this year’s Kuwait International Literary Festival includes Dostoevsky’s masterpiece. (Too gloomy?)

‘Cli-Fi’ — How Science Fiction About Climate Change Is Envisioning The Roasting Of The Planet

Katy Waldman: “There is something counterintuitive about cli-fi, about the fictional representation of scientifically substantiated predictions that too many people discount as fictions. … Literature has always been a humanist endeavor: it intrinsically and helplessly affirms the value of the species; its intimations of meaning energize and comfort. But what if there is scant succor to be had, and our true natures are not noble but necrotic, pestilential?”

‘Cli-Fi’ — How Science Fiction About Climate Change Is Envisioning The Roasting Of The Planet

Katy Waldman: “There is something counterintuitive about cli-fi, about the fictional representation of scientifically substantiated predictions that too many people discount as fictions. … Literature has always been a humanist endeavor: it intrinsically and helplessly affirms the value of the species; its intimations of meaning energize and comfort. But what if there is scant succor to be had, and our true natures are not noble but necrotic, pestilential?”

Sneaking Banned Iranian Writing Around Iran’s Censors

“[Azadeh] Parsapour is the founder of the London-based Nogaam Publishing, a press launched in 2012 to digitally produce Farsi writings that are censored in Iran. Nogaam makes them available free of charge under a Creative Commons license. Iranian readers can access more than 40 titles so far produced by Nogaam on topics controlled in Tehran including immigration, censorship, LGBT issues, underground music, women, relationships, war, and extremism.”