Tuesday afternoon miscellany

  • Turkish author Elif Shafak could give birth to her first child next week, when her trial for “insulting Turkishness” is scheduled. (The insult, in case you’ve missed it: in her latest novel, one of Shafak’s characters refers to the 1915 mass Armenian deaths as “genocide.” That really is going out on a limb. After all, you can’t rule out the possibility that 1 million Armenians rose up and spontaneously slaughtered themselves.)
  • George Saunders wins a MacArthur Genius Grant, says he feels smarter already.
  • Christopher Beha experiments with Oulipo, “which owes its birth to a series of sonnets — 100,000,000,000,000 of them, to be precise.”
  • As people in publishing herald the repackaging of Jane Austen for the “supermarket-chick lit generation,” the proprietor of Bookish hollers at the television.
  • Margaret Atwood has announced plans to retry the “LongPen,” a long-distance book-signing implement that didn’t work when it debuted at the London Book Fair. If all goes as planned, she’ll be signing books for Toronto readers, from Edinburgh.
  • I’ll be appearing on a blogging panel at this year’s Council of Literary Magazines and Presses conference, but the events I’m most curious about are behind-the-scenes looks at the way writers work with agents and editors.
  • On a related note: one of the most fascinating pieces in the re-issued Paris Review Interviews I is “The Art of Editing,” a compilation of musings on the way editor Robert Gottlieb has worked with writers as diverse as Joseph Heller, Toni Morrison, John LeCarré, Cynthia Ozick, and (that crackpot) Michael Crichton. Writers’ remarks range from the (mostly) glowing to the crochety.


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