paper trail

Justin Taylor on Grace Paley; How winning the Nobel Prize affects book sales

Grace Paley. Photo: Karl Bissinger

Justin Taylor asks friends and colleagues to join him in reflecting on Grace Paley’s work. Her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, was published sixty years ago. “Any story that’s worth anything will be different every time you come back to it. And every Grace Paley story is worth something. Some of them, I suspect, are worth everything,” he writes. “You re-read them and they re-read you and that mixture of revelation and return is why you do it. If this is what a haunting is I hope I never find the end of mine.”

At the Columbia Journalism Review, Sarah Weinman looks at Break in the Case, a new true-crime podcast created by the NYPD. “Break in the Case trumpets the prowess of law enforcement, specifically New York City law enforcement, at a time when deep, and deserved, distrust of police is ever more present in coverage of the department,” she writes. “Because the listener’s perspective is entirely controlled by law enforcement, it is impossible to view this podcast as anything but a public relations exercise, and one designed to elicit maximum sympathy for the police.”

This Is Us producer Kay Oyegun is working on a screenplay based on Angie Thomas’s young adult novel, On the Come Up.

Literary Hub has rounded up the ultimate best books of 2019 list by counting how many times certain titles were included on other best books of the year lists.

At Document, Natasha Stagg and Kate Durbin discuss the Kardashians, influencers, and social media.

The Believer talks to Katherine Silver about translation and writing. Silver is best known for her translations of works by César Aira, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Horacio Castellanos Moya, and recently published her own novel, Echo Under Story. “When I was translating, I didn’t question the original’s basic right to exist. It did, and I worked from there. When I was writing, I was constantly second-guessing the original, second-guessing myself, my voice, my vision, what I was hearing inside my own head,” she said of writing the novel. “Slowly I have been able to transfer that acceptance—deference? respect?—of the original into my own writing process.”

Deutsche Welle examines the effect that winning the Nobel Prize in Literature has on an author’s book sales. "There is no external force that affects an author and an author's books as strongly as the Nobel Prize. This is the most intense thing that can happen to an author," said Swiss publisher Lucien Leitess. His press has published the work of four past prize winners. Leitess recalled the 1988 win of Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz. "Nobody knew him, or even how to spell his name right. We had sold 300 copies in three years — and then 30,000 in three minutes."