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Abdulrazak Gurnah’s unexpected Nobel win; Alexander Chee honored with CLMP award

Alexander Chee. Photo: M. Sharkey.

For the New Republic, Alex Shephard writes about the longshot win of the Nobel Prize for Literature by Abdulrazak Gurnah. According to Shephard, Gurnah was not on anyone’s radar as a contender and betting sites did not have him down as an option, even at 100-1 odds. After newsy selections—Bob Dylan in 2016, Kazuo Ishiguro the following year—the 2021 award may represent a turn back to tradition, as Shepard observes, “the Nobel Prize in literature has settled back into what it has been for much of its history: an unpredictable prize that selects its often obscure laureates for reasons that aren’t always entirely clear.”

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism has released a survey of staff at local newspapers. The respondents paint a picture of more working hours, more job insecurity, rising digital coverage, and the challenges of attracting ad revenue.

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) are honoring Alexander Chee and Carey Salerno tomorrow night at their annual benefit in support of indie literary presses.

Sally Rooney has rejected an offer from an Israeli publisher to publish a Hebrew translation of her novel Beautiful World Where Are You, citing her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. The author said in a statement that the Hebrew-language rights to the book are available, and “if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so. In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

At the New Yorker, Katy Waldman evaluates “The Kindest,” the short story at the center of the “Bad Art Friend” debate, asking whether the author, Sonya Larson, “did any better of a job exploiting Dorland’s kidney donation for personal gain, insofar as exploiting existing material for personal gain is a pretty good working definition of being a writer.” Apparently not, Waldman writes: “She crafted a takedown in disguise, which reduces even its protagonist to an instrument.”

Tonight at 7:30pm EDT, Community Bookstore will host Eugene Lim for a virtual discussion of his new novel Search History with Jonathan Lethem.