Link Gems is a weekly round-up of interesting articles and essays from around the web.
Well, that was the plan for this feature when I started it. But, it’s been so long since I did one of these. Good intentions and all… The following links have piled up, patiently waiting for a blog post.
I’m back now from my break. I will be clearing out my list of drafts of blog posts. Please bear with me as odd things might happen, for instance a multiple-post day or a Short Story Monday on a Wednesday. As the song goes, it’s my party and I’ll…
- Henry James and the Joys of Binge Reading, an essay from The Millions. I had a passing interest in the works of Henry James prior to reading Colm Toibin’s The Master. Books about authors should make one yearn to read them. And Toibin’s book did just that. I sense a reading project coming on as I search out stuff about James on the net.
- Wole Soyinka on the rebirth of Lagos
- Kwame Dawes on poetry from The Millions
I have a problem with this.
I think one day we went to school and were given a grand shock. Someone – most likely a teacher – told us that poems had meaning. And this disclosure was monumental. Of course, we probably always thought that poems had meaning, but we never thought about it – not really. But the moment the teacher let us know that poems have meaning, everything changed.
- The Novel is not Dead from the Boston Review. A wonderful article on the history of the novel. It ends with a discussion of Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins. It is rare to see an African novel included in a general discussion on literature.
- Confession of a Book Reviewer by George Orwell. Oh the never-ending drudgery!
- Your English is Showing from The New York Review of Books.
While easily conceding that certain areas of highly specialized knowledge become the exclusive domain of English, most people are not so willing, nor able, to read novels, or indeed any prose that involves strong elements of style, in a foreign language. There they want to keep to their vernacular… Yet at the same time, neither readers nor writers are happy any longer with the idea that a literary text’s nation or language of origin should in any way define or limit the area in which it moves, or indeed that a national audience be the first and perhaps only arbiter of a book’s destiny. We feel far too linked, and linked in the immediate present, not to want to see immediately what books are changing or at least entertaining the whole world. And if we are writers, of course, we want our own books to travel as widely as possible.
The obvious solution is translation.
- A profile of the Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou in The Economist (thanks to Stujallen’s tweet)
- Edwidge Danticat’s interview in Granta
- Coming of Age in Child Soldier Literature from The Brooklyn Rail. I haven’t made up my mind on the child soldier in African literature thing. But I keep reading up on it.
- Spoilers Don’t Spoil Anything from Wired.com. A big thanks to the researchers. Now will book bloggers agree to drop this spoiler alert thing?
- Mildred Barya on the future of African writing:
Writers’ residences, fellowship facilities and workshops aren’t a one-person endeavour. They call for a certain kind of faith, hope, love and goodwill so that even when there’re no funds to run them, even when there’re no quick products (writing is not a quick fix. If you want quick goods make pancakes,) even when there’re products but one may not solely live off them, the support to engage in writing exists because you and someone care for it.
My fiancée left me, and I thought about villanelles.
I could not resist after this opening line. And he goes on to discuss “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. Break my heart any day, any day 🙂
- Sapphire on racism in the arts from The Guardian.
“I remember when Push came out, there was shock when people saw me – they’d say: ‘You’re not 16, you’re not obese. We thought this was your life story.’
“It was as though they thought this was some illiterate teenager’s life story and I had spoken it into a tape recorder, and some white editor had written it.”
She said: “It’s as if black artists are only able to tell autobiographical horror stories and don’t have an imagination. There was an idea I wouldn’t have been able to conceive of [the narrator] Precious’s life unless I had lived it;
- Federation! (Goodbye Google Plus) – a must read for those of us who are closely connected to the internet and social media.
- On Unsold US rights – a writer talks about trying to break into the US publishing market.