Translated lit, Mark Twain letters, and more

May 8, 2015

News, Reviews, and Interviews

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is serving as the co-curator for this year’s PEN World Voices Festival, a weeklong literature event that happened this week in New York City. The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Adichie who talks about how people read work written by African writers and the central focus for this year’s festival.’s translation imprint, AmazonCrossing, is the biggest publisher of foreign literature in the US. According to data from the University of Rochester, only 600 translated fiction and poetry books were published in 2014. AmazonCrossing hopes to increase its output this year by adding 70 translated works in English and 200 in German.

The PEN American Center held its annual Literary Gala this week. PEN honored staff of Charlie Hebdo, which stirred up a significant amount of controversy in the literary realm. The gala also raised $1.4 million in support of freedom of expression for writers around the world.

Renowned picture book illustrator Marcia Brown died at age 96. Brown was most famous for winning the Caldecott Medal three times and the Caldecott Honor six times. Her illustrations often employed woodcuts, collages, and gouache to create a diverse range of animation.

Yemen saw a surge in literature: 20 novels were published by Yemeni authors last year. Compared to the eight books published the previous year, this number is noteworthy as the country continues to grow during turmoil and conflict.

Scholars at the University of California at Berkeley discovered 150-year-old letters from Mark Twain. Twain’s letters address his brother and complain about his lack of money and tiring job. The writing offers new insight into Twain’s early life and career.

Fun Finds and Inspiration

If you’ve ever wanted to look into the homes of famous writers, look no further. The Guardian has assembled a list (with photos!) of castles, mansions, and houses of George Eliot, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and more.

If you were thinking about traveling to Paris and love literature, this list from Paste magazine offers a slew of literary insights. From bars to bookshops, cafes to cemeteries, it won’t be hard to get your literary fix in this city.

Ann Morgan wrote a piece for the Huffington Post highlighting her sudden realization that her book collection was sadly lacking in translated literature. She made amends to her blind spot and recommends these 5 must-read translated books.