September 29, 2014 | Jen Rickard Blair

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, translated by Alison Anderson, is a pairing of two witty, charming protagonists: Renée, a fifty-four-year-old concierge with a plump, lazy cat, and Paloma, an intelligent twelve-year-old manga fan living in the “apartment for rich people” where Renée works. As strangers living in the same building, their relationship is peripheral and distant, but their thoughts and observations about the world around them are closely compatible and astoundingly beautiful. Their new neighbor, Kakuro Ozu, catalyzes the opportunity for Renée and Paloma’s lives to more deeply interconnect, and the impact is lovely and full of possibility.

To complement the interesting harmony between Renée and Paloma, my playlist includes songs that pair rustic with clean, o...

September 26, 2014 | Kaitlin Hawkins

This week, readers everywhere (us included) celebrated Banned Books Week, which celebrates the freedom to read and authors whose books have been challenged, banned, and censored because of their content. Below, find reading lists, author interviews, and general news about banned and challenged books from around the world.

News, Reviews, and Interviews

Responding to Etgar Keret’s op-ed piece for the New Yorker from July, Freddie Moore explores why fiction writers should be political and tackle political issues head-on. (For two perspectives on the role of poets in protest, see our coverage in last week’s lit links.)

Looking for more banned books to read? These six books from the Middle East have all been challenged in at least one country.

After a controversial book was taken off the curriculum in Delaware, the PEN American Center and the National Coalition Against Censorship launched an essay contest for high school stude...

September 24, 2014 | WLT

Neustadt Festival

Norman, Oklahoma, Sept. 24, 2014 – The 2014 Neustadt Festival of International Literature and Culture, featuring writers and scholars from Africa, Europe and the United States, will take place on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus Oct. 22 through 24. The festival’s marquee author, Mozambican writer Mia Couto, will receive the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature at a ceremony during the week. 

The festival, which is open to the public with no admission charge, is hosted by OU’s award-winning magazine, World Literature Today, which also sponsors the $50,000 Neustadt Prize and the $25,000 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. Leading up to the award ceremony, the festival will include many public events that celebrate world literature and African culture. Additionally, the winner of the 2015 NSK Prize will be announce...

September 23, 2014 | Jen Rickard Blair

Sculpture of person reading a book in a park with red flowers
Photo by Nèg Foto

Whether you’re looking for a quick escape on your midday break or a quiet lunch with that always entertaining friend, literature, this list includes five short works of fiction that you can read alongside your favorite lunchtime meal. These various translations have appeared in the pages of World Literature Today and range from dryly humorous to absorbingly deep.

1. “Turning Thirty” by Abdellah Taïa

Translation by Daniel Simon...

September 22, 2014 | WLT

A special section on post-Wende central European lit (1989–2014)

  • Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), an excerpt from The End of Days, tr. Susan Bernofsky
  • Tomas Venclova (Lithuania) interviewed by Ellen Hinsey
  • Julia Fiedorczuk (Poland), 5 poems, tr. Bill Johnston
  • German-language poetry by Durs Grünbein (Germany), tr. Michael Eskin & Karen Leeder; Esther Dischereit (Germany), tr. Iain Galbraith; Raoul Schrott (Austria), tr. Iain Galbraith; Kurt Drawert (Germany), Kerstin Hensel (Germany), and Nora Gomringer (Switzerland/Germany), tr. Paul-Henri Campbell
  • Ana Blandiana (Romania), 5 poems, tr. Paul Scott Derrick & Viorica Patea
  • Milena Michiko Flašar (Austria), “All Souls’ Day” (story), tr. Michael Z. Wise
  • Szilárd Borbély (Hungary), 2 poems, tr. Ottilie Mulzet
  • David Williams essay on Sofi Oksanen (Finland/Estonia)
  • Constantin Severin (Romania), 1 poem, tr. Carla Baricz
  • Web exclusives: an essay by Necia Chronister on post-Wende lit; addi...