José Saramago

Hearing the news of José Saramago's passing today at the age of 87, we couldn't help but think of the author's playful parrying with death and immortality in his recent novel, Death With Interruptions, in which the reaper takes a vacation and causes people to live too long. As Jason Weiss wrote in his 2009 review for Bookforum, "the implications of life everlasting become evident, and the blessing begins to resemble a curse . . . [Saramago] refreshes the old trope of immortality by treating it as fertile ground for playing out his incisive variations, exploring not only our fear of death but our fear of life as well." 

Implementing an RSS reader can be an aggressive step towards organizing the glut of online information, but as the unread count grows, so does the anxiety—and culling feeds can be just as painful as discarding a book.

David L. Ulin, the LA Times book editor for the last five years, is moving from editor to critic.

Slow readers of the world unite! As we spend much of our time skimming websites, text messages, and emails, an English professor at the University of New Hampshire is making the case for slowing down to get more meaning and pleasure out of the written word. 

In the New StatesmanNadine Gordimer says “The World Cup is a big circus. . . . But literature, poetry, novels, stories—these are an exploration of life.” As the world focuses on South Africa for its football, Bookforum focuses on its literature: Lorraine Adams reviews Cion by Zakes Mda, Ian Volner reviews Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked by Ivan Vladislavic, Jennifer Egan reviews Other Lives by André Brink, Martin Puchner reviews Summertime by J. M. Coetzee and Siddhartha Deb reviews Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year, Mary Gaitskill reviews Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk, and Caitlin Roper reviews 117 Days by Ruth First.