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Today, my first book launches. It’s kind of a wonderful word, launch: such propulsive force in its sound. Such muscular, fearless leaping. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d take a look at launchings of various kinds in literature. Not gradual beginnings, not slow evolutions into different forms, but sudden

The Technological Extinction of the Short-Story Writer

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The march toward human obsolescence is relentless, yet the job of the writer is considered relatively safe from the threat of automation. For empathy and creativity are two qualities that it would be difficult to bundle within artificial intelligence. And empathy and creativity are perhaps the two primary calling

Round-Up: Frankfurt Book Fair, Bob Dylan, and HENRY VI

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From the rise in attendance at the Frankfurt Book Fair to the research that names Christopher Marlowe as a co-author of Henry VI, here are last week's biggest literary headlines.

What Country?

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In a 2001 Penguin introduction to the novel, Colm Tóibín writes: “In Another Country, Baldwin created the essential American drama of the century.” Baldwin’s novel is rife with symbols of life in the USA: jazz, cocktails, the movies, and the idea of “making it.” It’s a story of searching

11 Thoughts about the Internet and Mike Meginnis’s “Angband, or His 55 Desires”

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The internet is a compost heap full of old websites and technology and expired pop culture leftovers. Every once in a while, some enterprising artist grabs his or her pitchfork and turns the heap to reach the richest, oldest, most decomposed material. That fertilizes new growth. Vaporwave, a new

The Care that Goes into Translation: An Interview with Lisa Hayden

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A central theme of the novel Laurus is that time is a spiral. Events and themes recur throughout history, but each time with a slight variation. The structure of the work, by Russian author Eugene Vodolazkin, mirrors that premise. Scenes and pages reference and reshape each other constantly. Though

There Are Places I Remember: on the Fine Line Between Fiction and Memoir in Translation

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Sometimes it feels as if I’m not merely translating people’s stories into English, but helping people preserve their own lives, turning them into internationally comprehendible keepsakes. For every two books of pure fiction that I translate, there is a third that is not exactly a memoir, not exactly a

In Bookstores Near You: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race ed. by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward introduces The Fire This Time, an anthology of essays and poems of witness and dissent, by expressing her own commingled dismay and hope regarding race relations in America. This book, she says, gathers “the great thinkers and extraordinary voices” of her generation to consider racism, both subtle

Douglas Kearney and the 21st Century Remix

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I was at a lecture recently about The Iliad—that beloved epic gorefest—when the scholar discussing the text referred to its author as “DJ Homer.” It wasn’t so much that Homer composed the text of The Iliad, he said. It was more that he remixed old stories that had been

Writing Trauma: Notes of Transcendence, #4—The Situation and the Story

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Writing in second person point of view, I found power in a situation in which I’d felt powerless. I was no longer the victim but the witness...