Our look at the literary world, eighty words at a time, returns with news of the latest Mo Yan translation, the ascent of women, and a terrible plague which will cause the downfall of civilisation…
Pow!, the tale of a young man with a mania for meat, as told to a monk near Slaughterhouse Village, is the first Mo Yan novel to be published in English since the Chinese writer won the Nobel and made some baffling comments about taking off his belt in airports. In addition to setting every reader’s magical realism detection meter going, Pow! aims a blow at our age of ‘immoral behaviour’, in which ‘people… make money by any means necessary.’
The Swedish Academy have released their shortlist for the 1962 Nobel Prize after half a century of unnecessary secrecy. According to Svenska Dagbladet, one committee member wrote that ‘There aren’t any obvious candidates… and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation.’ Karen Blixen made the shortlist, only to damage her chances of victory by dying shortly afterwards, and the committee eventually compromised on John Steinbeck. Lawrence Durrell, meanwhile, was ruled out because of his ‘monomaniacal preoccupation with erotic complications.’
For the first time in the history of the Costa Book Awards, there was a female winner in every category, leading the Telegraph’s Amanda Craig to declare that ‘women rule the literary world.’ Hilary Mantel’s prize-gobbling Bring Up The Bodies won the Novel category, while Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes became the first graphic work to win a Costa Award in the Biography category. The book’s co-author, Bryan Talbot, is conspicuous by his absence from Amanda Craig’s ‘all-woman shortlist’ article…
Finally, a look ahead to the rest of 2013. This, according to Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, is the year in which civilisation will collapse. The plague will begin in New York over summer. Just so you know what to watch out for, symptoms include ‘increased heart rate and fever, a fast-moving red rash, and a creeping numbness…’ The good news is that a Professor at Berkeley will escape to rural California and survive long enough to narrate the tale.