Paper Trail

Andrea Long Chu on Zadie Smith’s path for the novel; Elif Batuman searches for a Proust quote with AI

Elif Batuman. Photo: Valentyn Kuzan

In a review of The Fraud for Vulture, Andrea Long Chu considers Zadie Smith’s trajectory as a novelist, arguing that since her debut in 2000 with White Teeth—which James Wood famously described as “hysterical realism”—Smith’s work has become increasingly moral and conventionally realist. Referencing Smith’s 2008 essay “Two Paths for the Novel,” Chu writes: “Her two paths for the novel have become a perfect circle: What could be more avant-garde in an age of data harvesting and identity politics than a heartfelt 19th-century novel?” 

“Did ChatGPT seriously just recommend I ‘delve into Proust’s monumental work in its entirety’?” At The Guardian, Elif Batuman recounts what happened when she asked AI for help locating a passage written by Proust. 

Online at The Point, Lisa DeBartolomeo, who coordinates Russian Studies in the World Languages department at West Virginia University, reflects on the news that the school has “recommended” cutting the entire department and what that choice will mean for students. “Now, instead of learning the languages, literatures and cultures of the world from professional teachers and scholars at their university, these young people will be told to download an app, or to register for an online language course at another Big XII university.”

The new issue of Socrates on the Beach is now online, with essays and fiction by Devyn Defoe, Hugh Sheehy, Christina Tudor-Sideri, and Patrick Autréaux. In an editor’s note, Greg Gerke calls the issue “an eclectic mix of styles, languages, and concerns, mostly hovering around the dark side of life.” 

Translator Edith Grossman has died at age eighty-seven. Grossman was the English-language translator of Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Carlos Fuentes, Laura Esquivel, and Miguel de Cervantes, and the author of the 2010 book Why Translation Matters. Of translating Don Quixote, Grossman said, “Going to the 17th century with Cervantes was like going there with Shakespeare. Sheer joy.”