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The National Book Award for Translated Literature longlist; Yiyun Li on remaining “midthought” while writing

Yiyun Li. Photo: © Phillippe Matsas

Alexandra Kleeman profiles novelist Yiyun Li for the New York Times Magazine, and writes about Li’s latest novel, The Book of Goose, which will be published next week. Among the questions Kleeman poses is one borrowed from a character in Li’s 2019 novel Where Reasons End: “What do you do all day?” Over email, Li explains why she tries to stay “midthought” throughout the day: “I don’t think writing is the beginning of the thought, the beginning happens before we start typing the first word; and usually the thought doesn’t end when a story or a novel ends. The thought (several thoughts) still goes on.”

For the New York Review of Books, Michael Gorra considers Terry Eagleton’s latest book, Critical Revolutionaries. Gorra’s book devotes its five chapters in turn to the contributions of F. R. Leavis, I. A. Richards, William Empson, T. S. Eliot, and Raymond Williams in bringing about the paradigm shift that literary criticism should come from close-readings.

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2022 longlist for their National Book Award for Translated Literature. Among the ten nominees are: Olga Ravn’s The Employees, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken; Yoko Tawada’s Scattered All Over the Earth, translated from Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani; and Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft. 

At The Point, Jessica Swoboda reflects on the magazine’s “Criticism in Public” interview series, in which she talked with Tobi Haslett, Kamran Javadizadeh, Toril Moi, Emily Ogden, Lauren Michele Jackson, and others about scholarship, political writing, and the role of the critic.  

In the first installment of a new series featuring correspondence between writers, the Paris Review shares an exchange between Hervé Guibert and Eugène Savitzkaya. In back issues of Bookforum, you can read Wayne Koestenbaum on Guibert’s journals and eroticism, and Marco Roth on To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, Guibert’s autofictional account of the AIDS epidemic. 

Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a new collection of writings by Susan Sontag in 2023, with an introduction by Merve Emre.