“Human Flow”: a film by Ai Weiwei

For a film with ‘flow’ in its title, the only surprise in this superlative documentary is that the most powerful images are those of stillness. An old refugee woman sits incongruously on a bench in the middle of nowhere. A young man stares out at us, daring us to enter his life. The implacable sea,…

The Tumult in Publishing: Real or Imagined?

A recent thread in a LinkedIn Writers’ Group caught my attention: “THE TUMULT IN PUBLISHING” (yes, it was all caps). A journalist posed the questions: Where is publishing heading? Where might we be in the next five years? What do we do to ensure our [writers’] survival? Some of the answers were interesting. I warn you…

“Damnificados” to be translated into German

Damnificados will be translated into German in 2019 and published by Edition Nautilus. Edition Nautilus is an independent, Hamburg-based publishing house, founded in 1974. The company publishes fiction, political non-fiction, biographies, and an art-series called Die Kleine Bücherei (The Small Library). To say Edition Nautilus has a star-studded backlist would be an understatement. Besides its…

PEN America announces Writing for Justice Fellowship

  PEN America has run a prison writing program for over forty years. The program provides mentors, free resources and an audience for the incarcerated. This program benefits the prisoners, who get a chance to reflect on their lives through the written word and to express themselves in new ways. But the program also benefits…

Gray Pans Pinker

In a recent review in The New Statesman, John Gray dismissed Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress in one of the more colorful putdowns of recent times (excuse the pun – grey, pinker and all that). The title of the piece reads “The limits of reason: Steven…

Tucson Festival of Books: Happy 10th Birthday!

And a very happy one it was. Despite some unseasonal rain (what?! In Tucson?! In March?!), the 10th Tucson Festival of Books shone its usual ray of light on everything literary. Old perennial Luis Urrea starred in his tenth Tucson Festival while launching his new novel House of Broken Angels. In cahoots with the inspiring…

“Damnificados” launch in Turkey

A huge thank you to Pearson Turkey for arranging the launch of Damnificados in Istanbul. We used a venue called Kolektiv House, a funky set of rooms for hire, which was clearly frequented by young, artistic types. I felt right out of place. The event was for a select group of around twenty Pearson clients…

Ankara, Turkey: Trash Collectors Salvage Books, Open Library

Trash collectors in Ankara, Turkey, salvaged so many discarded books that they decided to open a library. After years of tossing away perfectly serviceable books, the sanitation workers asked how these books could be re-utilized. They came up with the idea of the library and then found a location – an abandoned brick factory (below)…

All the Knowledge in the World: Reflections on Eco’s Library

I was on a book tour in Italy recently. In an attempt to brush up my Italian beforehand, I watched, on youtube, interviews with Primo Levi, Italo Calvino, Stefano Benni, Orianna Fallaci, and Umberto Eco. Listening to Eco, I was reminded of his famous library, which contained 30,000 books. His home was described by Lila Azam Zanganeh in…