Readerly is SLiPnet's blog series which features some recent books and articles that have drawn our attention. The format consists of a breakdown of news and articles, followed by some of our favourite extracts. If you would like to suggest articles to feature in this blog series please e-mail me here with "Readerly" as your subject line.
In the news
The 2013 PEN literary Award winners have been anounced with Sergio De La Pava taking the fiction award for his self-published Naked Singularity and Katherine Boo picking up the non-fiction award for Behind the Beautiful Forevers. The only biographical detail La Pava included in his book is: “Sergio De La Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.” Margaret Atwood's first theatre piece is set to debut at the East Vancouver York Theatre in May 2014.
In a project that explores the boundaries between art and pornography, New York–based photographer Clayton Cubitt is recording a video series of fully clothed women reaching orgasms while reading books, in his art project titled "Hysterical Literature". Sophia McDougall, writing for The New Statesman, asserts that she does not like strong women in fiction because they are often as one dimensional as any other female stereotype.
NASA’s Curiosity Rover sang Happy Birthday to itself on Mars. The "Happy Birthday" song is copyrighted by Warner/Chappell but it's unclear whether the copyright law extends beyond earth's atmosphere
Amid a crackdown on street protesters, Ugandan activists are publishing books in resistance to their government.
Equal Education has announced that 340 000 Eastern Cape learners do not have access to proper toilets at their schools. Lauren Beukes has joined forces with Rape Crises to kick off The Shining Girls Charity Art Show in which over 50 artists will come together to raise money for Rape Crisis.
Quotes we like
Thoughts on the new South Africa - by Neville Alexander
The fact that the relationship between an unavoidable national South African identity and the possible sub-national identities continues to constitute the stuff of political contestation in post-apartheid South Africa today demonstrates clearly how tenacious the hold of history is on the consciousness of the masses of the people.
Neville Alexander's collected essays was published earlier this year. It's an insightful glimpse into his political ideas and Osiame Molefe calls it "a necessary and valuable minority report on the state of South Africa presently and a stark warning of what might come to pass if we, the people of this country, continue the abdication of the struggle of our forebears".
My mother, a woman who never knew her place - by Khaya Dlanga
In South Africa at the time, there was no one more powerful than a white male, and no one scared me more in the world than this white man – besides my mother.
On the occasion of National Women's day, Khaya Dlanga pays tribute to his mother.
Excerpt from 'Americanah' - by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The man standing closest to her was eating an ice cream cone; she had always found it a little irresponsible, the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men, especially the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men in public.
Award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just released her third novel. Follow the link above for the full excerpt which was published by Random House on the Newsday website.
Love of a Fat Woman - by Chika Unigwe
When he was younger, not too young to be scared by the thought of wearing a dead man's hat, but young enough to be sentimental about his meager inheritance, he would climb onto a chair to reach the top of the cupboard, bring down the paperback, and, burying his head in the hat, he would take in huge gulps of his father's scent
This is a shrewd short story about immigration by last year's recipient of the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - by Mohsin Hamid
The master at whose feet you metaphorically squat is a middle-aged man with the long fingers of an artist and the white-tufted ear hair of a primate resistant to lethal tympanic parasites
Mohsin Hamid's new novel is a satirical take on the self-help genre, which starts off as a humorous and cutting criticism of the globalised dream of consumer-driven economic development, and ends as an existential exploration of mortality.
White flights - by Jess Row
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but in our current situation, many American readers, even well-meaning ones, haven’t learned to live outside one.
Jess Row muses on the willful apolitical whitewash of racialised realities in white middle-class fiction.
Rape Joke - by Patricia Lockwood
The rape joke is if you write a poem called Rape Joke, you’re asking for it to become the only thing people remember about you.
The recent debate about rape jokes sparked by comments from FHM writer Montle Moorosi and features editor Max Barashenkov left many South Africans exasperated. But this debate also takes place on an ongoing basis in the international media and Patricia Lockwood seems to have delivered a final blow in her poignant poem that has been widely shared ever since it was published. The Guardian declared: "She has casually reawakened a generation's interest in poetry."
In praise of pessimism - by Will Self
It is this consumerist ethic – if it can be so glorified – that has eaten away at any remaining semblance of altruism, its chomping in synchrony with the optimistic belief in the power of the market to unite mouths efficiently with jam.
Recently Peter Buffet's New York Times piece 'The Charitable-Industrial Complex', in which he criticises the Western approach to humanitarian projects, was widely distributed and discussed. In this piece, British author Will Self delivers criticism of the optimistic belief in the quantifiable advance to a better future for all under the capitalist ethos.
The Art of Fiction No. 220 - Imre Kertész interviewed by Luisa Zielinski
I invented the boy precisely because anyone in a dictatorship is kept in a childlike state of ignorance and helplessness.
84 year old Hungarian Author and Nobel prize recipient Imre Kertész is interviewed by Luisa Zielinski at his house in Berlin and declares: "All right, that’s enough. That was my last interview."
A walk to Kobe - by Haruki Murakami
In the midst of this placid scene it’s hard to deny the vestiges of violence. That’s how it struck me. A part of those violent tendencies lies hidden right below our feet, while another part is hidden within us.
Haruki Murakami takes a walk in the town he grew up in to witness the destruction an earthquake has left behind.
Ask Ayn - by John Hodgman
I have to stop writing now, because I have chewed through my typewriter.
John Hodgman poses as Ayn Rand in a satirical column poking fun at her philosophy. Hodgman also did a live impersonation of Ayn Rand in the most recent episode of The Dead Authors Podcast.
Spectrum Order - by Tom Cutterham
From the perspective of the subject, a world without system is no different from a world ruled by an incomprehensible one.
Tom Cutterham examines what depictions of autism in fiction can reveal about subjectivity in novels.