French novelist Michel Houellebecq's controversial work has been called racist and sexist (and sometimes brilliant). Now critics are crying "plagiarism," as the author apparently pasted portions of Wikipedia into his new novel, The Map and the Territory. Houellebecq has responded to the charge with his usual sangfroid: "When you use a big word like 'plagiarism,' even if the accusation is ridiculous, something (of the accusation) will always remain. . . . And if people really think that, then they haven't the first notion of what literature is."
At the New Republic G. W. Bowersock remembers the great classicist Bernard Knox, who passed away last month.
Tonight, Barnes and Noble's security may keep a close eye on author Tao Lin (an accomplished shoplifter), as he appears at the chain's Tribeca branch to discuss his new novel Richard Yates. But can Lin be as uninhibited in person as he is on the Web? As Joshua Cohen writes of Lin in the latest issue of Bookforum: "To Lin's generation, which is to say to mine as well, transparency is the new sincerity; many of our peers maintain that it's psychologically healthy, and artistic, to expose oneself entirely online."
As Christopher Hitchens battles esophageal cancer, God-fearing fans have anointed September 20th as "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day," but the preeminent atheist is still having none of it: "I don't mean to be churlish about any kind intentions, but when September 20 comes, please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries. Unless, of course, it makes you feel better."
The Brooklyn Rail has a gripping (and disturbing) excerpt from Xiaoda Xiao's forthcoming novel The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life, based on the author's seven years in Chinese labor brigades.