After word got out last week that J.K. Rowling regrets bringing Ron and Hermione together, many people responded with interesting takes on the news. The hubbub missed the full context of Rowling’s quotes, however, as they leaked from an interview in Wonderland magazine that hadn’t yet been released. Now the new issue of the the magazine is out, and the context changes things a bit: Rowling actually said the two “will be alright with a bit of counseling.”
Don’t expect to hear from Alan Moore anytime soon. He is withdrawing from public life after accusations that his comics include racist characters and too much sexual violence toward women according to an interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. He also took the opportunity to disparage society’s obsession with superheroes, which probably won’t win him any more fans. “To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence.”
Whether or not you believe that Oxford University Press is “the largest, most diverse and most respected university press in the world,” you’ll appreciate this review of a new history of the company, which goes through OUP’s origins, its relationship with its namesake and the opening of its New York office in 1896.
Northern England has its own distinct genre of crime fiction, yet it’s never taken off abroad the way its counterparts in Scandinavia and Scotland have. In The Guardian, AK Nawaz wonders why this is, arguing that “there is an argument for a common and marketable ‘Northernness’ – if not an identity, then perhaps a literary state of mind.”
Most of our internet browsing results in wasted time and too many cat videos, but Nora Crook stumbled upon Mary Shelley’s unpublished letters while researching an obscure 19th-century novelist. In the letters, which range from 1831-49, Shelley fawns over her son and even discusses a 3 a.m. trip to her hairdresser when she got a ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831. The letters will be published soon in The Keats-Shelley Journal.
Every so often, a writer comes along who cheers Ireland up, not because the books are cheerful – on the contrary, indeed – but because the writing enlarges a particular sense we have of ourselves. Claire Keegan is one such writer, John McGahern is perhaps the best known, and Donal Ryan is the latest addition to this distinguished line. He writes from the rural heartland in prose that always pushes for the truth of things. Ryan’s language is colloquial and easy, but the central emotion is, for lack of a better word, dignified. His characters are large-hearted people in a small-minded world and this timeless theme is played out, not in misty boggy nowhere-land, but in a contemporary Irish space, where people talk on their mobiles and the halal meat plant has been recently closed down.
You may have heard that Alice Munro couldn’t make it to Sweden to accept this year’s Nobel prize. Instead, she made a video, which you can watch in full on the Nobel Prize committee’s website. (You could also read Ben Dolnick’s beginner’s guide to her work, or else read my essay on the meaning of her win.) (h/t The Paris Review)
[He] later tweeted about what he was watching on TV: ‘Watching The Returned. Scary and sexy. Fun to see a foreign TV show that hasn’t been Americanized. That kid Victor’s giving me nightmares.’