paper trail

Orwell and O. Henry prizes

Lydia Davis

The novelist James Meek has won the Orwell Prize for Private Island, a study of privatization (of the railways, the water, the electricity, social housing, healthcare) in Britain: Gillian Slovo, the chair of judges, said Meek’s book “more than passed the Orwell test of political writing as art.”

And here’s this year’s list of O. Henry Prize winners, short stories chosen in cloak-and-dagger fashion by jurors who must not consult one another and who see only “a blind manuscript,” with no names of authors or the magazines they appear in. “Although the jurors write their essays without knowl­edge of the authors’ names,” Laura Furman, the prize’s editor, writes, “the names are inserted into the essay later for the sake of clarity.” (Having said all that, some of the winners, such as Lydia Davis, wouldn’t seem so easy to mistake for anyone else.)

In what he describes as “a pivot”, former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio fires pretty much everyone at his recently launched tabloidish local news site Ratter.

More on the Science study that spawned a thousand retractions (or at least five)—the Chronicle of Higher Education speaks to one of the grad students who uncovered the fraud, and Vox takes a broader view, looking into how much this sort of thing actually goes on, with the help of a fascinating Nautilus essay on a champion fabricator who faked 183 papers before getting caught.

The pains of translation: Izidora Angel describes wrestling into English a book by Hristo Karastoyanov “written entirely in the inferential mood,” which we don’t have. (In Bulgarian, a verb “can be conjugated in such a way as to portray an inferential tense—an alleged happening, not yet completed, which has occurred in the past, in which the teller, who hasn’t witnessed the not yet finished event, is retelling it.”) “Breaking the Bulgarian structure out of the sentence,” she writes, “and turning it into an equally strong and evocative phrase in English is a lot like doing 50 pushups.” Incidentally, it’s worth reading this essay on translation by another 2015 O. Henry Prize winner, Dina Nayeri.

And if you missed this piece on Larry Kramer and The American People, it might be time to un-miss it again.