Writers and surveillance, brain-boosting reading, and hope for the shelfie

January 3, 2014

We’re back! We hope you had a wonderful holiday and a great start to 2014. Below, catch up on all the literary news and tidbits you might have missed while celebrating.

News, Reviews, and Interviews

Right before the holidays, the Russian government gave approval to release the members of Pussy Riot from prison. But PEN International wonders if free speech was really victorious in this situation.

During the break, we said goodbye to a prolific and beloved children’s author: Ned Vizzini.

In response to the reports of surveillance by the U.S. and other governments, a new report shows that writers are self-censoring their works to avoid targeting. (For more on digital repression, see our interview with Deji Olukotun or the KGOU interview with Olukotun and Lauren Camp about how technology is changing literature.)

On the same note, a new English PEN Atlas piece explores the true price of being a journalist in Turkey.

How did the international literary landscape look in 2013? Here’s a look back at notable events in African literature and Arabic literature from the past year.

Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is forthcoming next week from Riverhead Books. NPR published an exclusive reading from the book by the author himself.

Did you know “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was a short story before it was a film? Here’s the original story from a 1939 issue of the New Yorker.

New interactive tools from ALTA and the University of Texas at Dallas are aimed at helping translators work more efficiently.

This year, if you want to give your brain a powerful boost, science now shows that reading a novel can boost your brain function for up to a week. Doctors in the UK are even using books as a treatment for depression because of the amazing benefits reading is shown to have.

For Your Calendar

Applications are open until March for the Paul Celan Fellowship for Translators.

Fun Finds and Inspiration

“Shelfie” was the word of the year for 2013, so could “shelfie” be on its way to the top choice in 2014?

Have you ever wondered how many times you’ve seen a certain book on all of those “Best of the Year” lists? A case for books on Tumblr has compiled a list of the most referenced books on top lists.

Beyoncé is getting literary on her latest album, sampling a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Who doesn’t love a good literary tussle? The New Yorker has compiled a list of the most notable literary feuds from the past year.

There’s playing in the snow, and then there’s the snow art of Simon Beck.

Translation is an art. Here’s a list of nine big mistakes that prove it.