PEN on Twitter

rachelfershleiser:

I don’t know how to solve this problem or what to do with this information. I’m not riled up. I’m informed. I like seeing some numbers, having some sense of the scope of a problem. I like knowing where things stand. Hopefully these numbers will encourage review outlets to be more inclusive in reviewing books—considering race, gender and let us not forget sexuality or other brands of difference—rather than treating diversity as a compartmentalized issue where we can only focus on one kind of inequity at a time. Such mindfulness is important. If we want to encourage people to be better, broader readers, that effort starts by giving readers a better, broader selection of books to choose from.
(via Where Things Stand - The Rumpus.net)

rachelfershleiser:

I don’t know how to solve this problem or what to do with this information. I’m not riled up. I’m informed. I like seeing some numbers, having some sense of the scope of a problem. I like knowing where things stand. Hopefully these numbers will encourage review outlets to be more inclusive in reviewing books—considering race, gender and let us not forget sexuality or other brands of difference—rather than treating diversity as a compartmentalized issue where we can only focus on one kind of inequity at a time. Such mindfulness is important. If we want to encourage people to be better, broader readers, that effort starts by giving readers a better, broader selection of books to choose from.

(via Where Things Stand - The Rumpus.net)

1

WHEN the Swedish Academy called the Chinese writer Mo Yan to tell him he had won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, the novelist reportedly told them, in what must be one of the most poignant Nobel reactions in memory, that he was “overjoyed and terrified.”

It isn’t hard to imagine why a writer who chose “Mo Yan” as his pen name would find fear at the heart of such a happy occasion. The name, meaning “don’t speak,” was his parents’ admonition when they sent him out to play in the Maoist 1950s and ’60s. Half a century later, Mao’s party, stripped of ideology but intact in its machinery, remains in charge, and at least 40 of Mo Yan’s less circumspect contemporaries are locked in Chinese prisons.

As a novelist, Mo Yan has dipped his toe in the waters of official taboos, but he also has credited state censorship with spawning the formal innovations that helped garner him the Nobel Prize last week. And throughout his life he has done little to jeopardize his status as one of the country’s most honored writers; he is currently vice chairman of the state-run Chinese Writers Association.

In 2009, when the People’s Republic of China was the official guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Mo Yan was part of a delegation that boycotted events that included Chinese dissident writers. More recently, he was one of around 100 writers to pay tribute to Mao by hand-copying a passage from Mao’s 1942 Yan’an talk on literature and art — a speech that the dissident Liu Binyan once described as boiling down to the injunction “Writers should ‘extol the bright side of life’ and ‘not expose’ the darkness.”

Read the full article here

Great war novels inevitably follow great wars, and in literary circles following World War II, everyone was wondering what would be the successors to “A Farewell to Arms” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” — and who would write them. But when John Horne Burns, age 29, in his small dormitory suite at the Loomis School in Windsor, Conn., on the night of April 23, 1946 (Shakespeare’s birthday, at that), finished “The Gallery” — “I fell across my Underwood and wept my heart out,” he later recalled — he was convinced he had done just that, and more. “ ‘The Gallery,’ I fear, is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century,” he wrote a friend.
David Margolick in the NYTimes on John Horne Burns, "The Great (Gay) Novelist You’ve Never Heard of"

Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it — no matter how or when it was acquired — knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance.

Verlyn Klinkenborg writes in the NYTimes about "The Decline and Fall of the English Major"
7
Can Free Speech and Internet Filters Co-Exist?

The British government and the blogging site Tumblr are both cracking down on porn this summer. But their crackdowns are blocking more than porn, like social networking sites and posts about gay and lesbian issues. The filter in Britain is even being administered in part by a company with close ties to the Chinese government, known for political censorship.
With the goal of being “family friendly,” is the Internet becoming too censored? Can efforts to filter the Internet be compatible with free speech, or will the two always be in conflict?

Can Free Speech and Internet Filters Co-Exist?

The British government and the blogging site Tumblr are both cracking down on porn this summer. But their crackdowns are blocking more than porn, like social networking sites and posts about gay and lesbian issues. The filter in Britain is even being administered in part by a company with close ties to the Chinese government, known for political censorship.

With the goal of being “family friendly,” is the Internet becoming too censored? Can efforts to filter the Internet be compatible with free speech, or will the two always be in conflict?