paper trail

Svetlana Alexievich wins the Nobel

Svetlana Alexievich

The Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich, the bookies’ favorite, has won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature for her “polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage.” “Life offers so many versions and interpretations of the same events that neither fiction nor document alone can keep up with its variety,” she told an interviewer when her oral history Voices from Chernobyl was published. “I felt compelled to find a different narrative strategy. I decided to collect the voices from the street, the material lying about around me. Each person offers a text of his or her own. And realized I could make a book out of them. Life moves on much too fast—only collectively can we create a single, many-sided picture. I wrote all five of my books in this way.”

Revenge of the fact-checkers: Buzzfeed has gone through a 1998 book by presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, identifying all the quotations falsely credited (so it seems) to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the like. Huckabee, Buzzfeed notes, isn’t alone among Republican candidates in attributing “fake quotes to America’s founders. Ben Carson, Rand Paul, and former candidate Scott Walker have all done so.”

As it is with movie stars, so too with writers of fiction—more of them are Canadian than you think. Take Rachel Cusk, whose strange, deft novel Outline has been shortlisted for two major Canadian awards in the last few days: the Scotiabank Giller Prize, worth $100,000, and the Governor-General’s Literary Awards, $25,000 (let’s assume that’s Canadian money).

Investigations are still going on into the death, in 1973, of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and whether or not he was poisoned by the Pinochet regime.

Pedro J. Ramirez, the notorious Spanish journalist and editor, has just launched a well-funded digital start-up called El Espanol, for which more than 10,000 subscribers apparently signed up sight unseen. Ramirez, who has often specialized in covering political scandals and corruption, has hired seventy-two journalists so far and promises “scoops every day.”

Patti Smith will be reading and signing copies of her second volume of memoir, M Train, tonight at St. Joseph’s College, though it’s safe to say that anyone without a ticket by now won’t be getting in.