And once the noise of the train has been swallowed up he realizes there isn’t the perfect quiet around that he would have expected. Plenty of disturbance here and there, a shaking of the dry August leaves that wasn’t wind, a racket of unknown, unseen birds chastising him.
Alice Munro has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature! If you’re new to her writing, here’s our beginner’s guide. Or read our review of her latest Dear Life, which Ben Dolnick claims has “the intelligence itself, the compassionate but merciless awareness that she has shone through all her hundreds of stories.” And in our Books of the Millennium series, Michelle Huneven says she returns to Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories”for sustenance, for instruction, and for pleasure.”
Popular bookmakers Ladbrokes have announced their opening odds for the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. Smart money seems to favor Haruki Murakami, who would surely take the prize if it depended on recent book sales. Meanwhile the next two favorites are Joyce Carol Oates (6/1) and Hungarian author Péter Nádas (7/1). All signs point to this being another year of disappointment for Philip Roth’s fans – his odds of winning stand at 16/1.
The premier English-language translator of modern Chinese fiction, Howard Goldblatt, says flatly that Western audiences don’t read Chinese books. However, with last year’s Nobel Prize win for Mo Yan (and the rave review his novel Pow! received in the Times), Goldblatt and other scholars are hoping that could change.
This week, the Ransom Center at UT-Austin opened up its archives of the works of J.M. Coetzee. Because the Nobel Prize winner is an alumnus, he says it’s “a privilege to have graduated from being a teaching assistant at The University of Texas to being one of the authors whose papers are conserved here.” (Fun fact: his starting salary was $2,300 a year.
In ancient times, there was a famous chef named Pao Ding, who was an expert at carving up cows. In modern times, there was a man who was an expert at sizing them up—my father. In Pao Ding’s eyes, cows were nothing but bones and edible flesh. That’s what they were in my father’s eyes, too. Pao Ding’s vision was as sharp as a knife; my father’s was as sharp as a knife and as accurate as a scale. What I mean to say is: if you were to lead a live cow up to my father, he’d take two turns around it, three at most, occasionally sticking his hand up under the animal’s foreleg—just for show—and confidently report its gross weight and the quantity of meat on its bones, always to within a kilo of what might register on the digital scale used in England’s largest cattle slaughterhouse.