Nov 282016
 

Amos Oz: By the Book

【野马絮语】《纽约时报》(The New York Times)“书评栏目”(Book Review)里的一个非常有意思的专栏“手不释卷”(By the Book:Writers on literature and literary life)。每期一位知名作家谈文学、阅读及其创作生涯。转载于此。分享给不便翻墙的文学爱好者们。

原文见:The New York Times >Nov. 23, 2016

The Israeli author, whose most recent novel is “Judas,” would like to meet Chekhov, if only to gossip with him. Gossip, after all, is “a distant cousin of stories and novels,” although they are “embarrassed by this member of their family.”

amos-ozTell us about some of your favorite writers.

You see, I don’t have a bookshelf with my eternal beloved ones on it. They come and go. A few of them come more often than the others: Chekhov, Cervantes, Faulkner, Agnon, Brener, Yizhar, Alterman, Bialik, Amichai, Lampedusa’s “Il Gattopardo,” Kafka and Borges, sometimes Thomas Mann and sometimes Elsa Morante and Natalia Ginzburg.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

The short answer is that when a work of literature suddenly makes the very familiar unfamiliar to me, or just the opposite, when a work of literature makes the unfamiliar almost intimately familiar, I am moved (moved to tears, or smiles, or anger, or gratitude, or many other, different, kinds of excitement).

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Omnivorous, I read everything. Anything at all. I read the user’s manual of the electric heater, I read novels that were way above my grasp, I read poetry which could only offer me the music of its language while the meaning was still far from me. I read newspapers and magazines of all sorts, leaflets, ads, political manifestoes, dirty magazines, comics. Anything at all.

If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

Almost every good book changes me in a small way. But I may have not gathered the courage to send an early story to a literary editor were it not for what I learned from Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio” and from Agnon’s “In the Prime of Her Life” and from M. Y. Berdyczewski’s short stories. “Winesburg, Ohio” taught me that sometimes the more provincial a story is, the more universal it may become. I wrote about these early literary epiphanies in “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”

What author, living or dead, would you most like to meet, and what would you like to know?

I would very much wish to spend half an hour with Anton Chekhov. I would buy him a drink. I would not discuss literary issues with him, not even bother to interview him or ask him for some useful tips, just chat about people. Even gossip with him. I love Chekhov’s unique blend of misanthropy and compassion. (And gossip — which is a mixture of both — is, after all, a distant cousin of stories and novels, although they don’t say hello to each other in the street, as novels and stories are embarrassed by this member of their family.)

What books are currently on your night stand?

A few weeks ago a beloved friend and colleague, the Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua lost his wife to an illness. Rivka Yehoshua was a leading psychoanalyst, and both of them were close friends for more than five decades. Thirty years ago, Yehoshua published “Five Seasons,” a wonderful novel about a delicate man losing his wife in the prime of their lives. “Five Seasons” describes the first year of the protagonist’s life as a widower. I am rereading it now with awe, in tears, and with admiration. I can’t help shuddering at the thought that rather often life imitates literature.

What are a few of the last great books you read?

I read “Lenin’s Kisses,” a fierce, funny, painful and playful novel by a great Chinese writer, Yan Lianke. It is much more than just a poignant, daring political parody: It is also a subtle study of evil and stupidity, misery and compassion. I reread Anita Shapira’s biography of David Ben-Gurion rediscovering the greatness of this founding father of Israel who, as early as the beginning of the 1930s, recognized the rise of Palestinian nationalism and its fierce resentment toward Zionism, and conducted a series of painstaking meetings with Palestinian leaders, trying in vain to formulate a far-reaching compromise between two legitimate national movements, both rightly claiming the same tiny homeland.

Who are some underappreciated or overlooked authors? Are there Israeli writers who aren’t as widely translated as they should be whom you’d recommend in particular?

Two great Israeli writers, S. Yizhar and Yehoshua Kenaz, are hardly known outside the realm of Hebrew. Yizhar’s work has an almost Joycean quality about it, while Kenaz at his heights makes you think of Marcel Proust.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

Recently, I’ve developed a growing addiction to well-written memoirs and biographies, whether they relate to artists, statesmen or failed eccentrics: “Stalin,” by Simon Sebag Montefiore; “Kafka,” by Reiner Stach; “Nikolai Gogol,” by Nabokov.

Do you have a favorite fictional hero or heroine? A favorite antihero or villain?

Don Quixote. The hero and the antihero of the first modern novel, which is also the first postmodern novel, and also the first deconstructionist novel. Don Quixote’s genes can be found in thousands and thousands of literary and cinematic figures created since. Maybe some of his genes are in every post-Quixotean human being.

amos-oz1If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? The Israeli prime minister?

Unfortunately, there are many political leaders in today’s world, including my country, who would pleasantly surprise me if they read any book at all. To President Obama I would give, as a farewell present, with admiration, my “Tale of Love and Darkness.” Prime Minister Netanyahu may perhaps benefit from reading “Richard III.”

Whom would you want to write your life story?

All my children are very fine writers. Any one of them could tell my story with the right blend of kinship, empathy and irony.

Oct 052016
 

Canadian Philosopher Wins $1 Million Prize

charles_taylor
The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has been named the winner of the first Berggruen Prize, which is to be awarded annually for “a thinker whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity.”
The prize, which carries a cash award of $1 million, will be given in a ceremony in New York City on Dec. 1. It is sponsored by the Berggruen Institute, a research organization based in Los Angeles and dedicated to improving governance and mutual understanding across different cultures, with particular emphasis on intellectual exchange between the West and Asia.
Mr. Taylor, 84, is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading philosophers, and a thinker whose ideas have been influential in the humanities, social sciences and public affairs. His many books include “Sources of the Self,” an exploration of how different ideas of selfhood helped define Western civilization, and “A Secular Age,” a study of the coexistence of religious and nonreligious people in an era dominated by secular ideas.
He was chosen for the prize by an independent nine-member jury, headed by the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah. The jury cited Mr. Taylor’s support for “political unity that respects cultural diversity,” and the influence of his work in “demonstrating that Western civilization is not simply unitary, but like all civilizations the product of diverse influences.”
Mr. Taylor’s previous honors include the 2015 John W. Kluge Prize for the Achievement in the Study of Humanity (shared with Jürgen Habermas), the 2007 Templeton Prize for achievement in the advancement in spiritual matters and the 2008 Kyoto Prize, regarded as Japan’s highest private honor. Both the Templeton and Kluge prizes also carry cash awards of more than $1 million.

Oct 042016
 

The six Booker finalists were drawn from an earlier longlist, and the winner will be announced on Oct. 25. In 2014, the prize, which had previously been limited to writers from Britain, Ireland, the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe, changed its rules to include submissions from any author whose work was published in Britain and was first written in English. This year’s six finalists:
nominees-for-manbooker201601“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty
Beatty’s bold satire about race in America was one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2015. In the Book Review, Kevin Young wrote about the novel in the context of the history of black satire. He said Beatty takes “delight in tearing down the sacred, not so much airing dirty laundry as soiling it in front of you.” Dwight Garner wrote that the first third of the book “reads like the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.”
“Hot Milk” by Deborah Levy
Levy’s novel is about a young woman named Sofia who has traveled to Spain with her mother, Rose, in search of a cure for Rose’s possibly psychosomatic ailments. In The Times, Sarah Lyall called the book “gorgeous,” and wrote: “It’s a pleasure to be inside Sofia’s insightful, questioning mind.” In the Book Review, Leah Hager Cohen expressed mixed feelings: “As a series of images, the book exerts a seductive, arcane power, rather like a deck of tarot cards, every page seething with lavish, cryptic innuendo. Yet, as a narrative it is wanting.”
“His Bloody Project” by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Burnet’s novel about a triple murder in 19th-century Scotland will be published in the U.S. on Oct. 18. It starts with a confession, so it’s not a whodunit but a whydunit. “My primary interest is in the psychology of the character,” Burnet recently told The Wall Street Journal, “rather than the mystery of what’s happened.”
nominees-for-manbooker201602“Eileen” by Ottessa Moshfegh
One of the most widely praised debuts by an American writer this year, Moshfegh’s novel is about a young woman working at a juvenile detention center in New England in the 1960s. On the cover of the Book Review, Lily King praised Moshfegh’s sentences as “playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp,” and said that as a character Eileen is “as vivid and human as they come.”
“All That Man Is” by David Szalay
Szalay’s novel is composed of nine narratives with different male protagonists. In the Book Review, Garth Greenwell praised the novel, while questioning its label: “The publisher calls ‘All That Man Is’ a novel, but there’s very little explicitly interlinking its separate narratives. The stories cohere instead through their single project: an investigation of European manhood.”
“Do Not Say We Have Nothing” by Madeleine Thien
Thien’s latest novel, which will be published in the U.S. on Oct. 11, traces the effects of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, from Mao’s rise to the Tiananmen Square protests. It follows three musician friends through the country’s changes.

Sep 292016
 

2017年南开大学-格拉斯哥大学联合研究生院项目招生简章

南开大学—格拉斯哥大学联合研究生院(以下简称联合研究生院)是教育部批准设立的中外合作办学机构。联合研究生院于2015年开始招收全日制硕士研究生,并纳入国家下达的研究生招生计划,开设国际关系、区域经济学(城市与区域规划)、环境管理与经济(环境管理)和英语语言文学(翻译与专业实践)四个专业,学制均为两年。
联合研究生院的建立是南开大学、英国格拉斯哥大学两所世界知名大学强强联手,学科优势互补,教学软硬件条件兼备,办学实力雄厚的重要体现,旨在为我国教育国际化战略服务。

一、招生专业
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二、报名条件
符合以下条件的考生可报名参加联合研究生院项目:
1、参加2017年全国硕士研究生统一入学考试,通过初试,并具有复试资格的考生或推荐免试生;
2、本科阶段学习成绩优良,符合招生专业对本科背景的原则要求;
3、满足格拉斯哥大学提出的语言要求(详见第三)。

三、复试和录取要求
南开大学-格拉斯哥大学联合研究生院各专业复试由相关学院组织,南开大学与格拉斯哥大学教授共同参与。通过该复试的考生,同时须满足格拉斯哥大学语言条件,将被该专业录取。格拉斯哥大学语言要求如下:

1、国际关系、区域经济学(城市与区域规划)和环境管理与经济(环境管理)专业的语言要求:
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2、英语语言文学(翻译与专业实践)专业的语言要求:
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四、学生培养
1. 联合研究生院各专业学制为两年,学费标准为5万元/年。
2. 联合研究生院课程为全英文授课,由南开大学和格拉斯哥大学教师共同承担。
3. 学生修业合格后将获得南开大学硕士学位证书、硕士研究生学历证书和英国格拉斯哥大学学位证书。

南开大学研究生院
2016.7

Sep 172016
 

National Book Foundation Announces 10 Nominees for 2016 Fiction Award

The contenders for the 2016 National Book Award for fiction include novels about American slavery, mental illness, terrorism, post-Civil War America, and a book about a couple on the cusp of marriage that also features a charismatic squirrel.

The 10 nominees were announced on Thursday.

Colson Whitehead’s best-selling novel “The Underground Railroad,” which was selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club, centers on a slave named Cora who escapes a Georgia plantation and flees north via the underground railroad — a literal subterranean railroad. In Karan Mahajan’s novel “The Association of Small Bombs,” a community in New Delhi struggles to recover from a terrorist attack. Adam Haslett’s “Imagine Me Gone” explores the effects of mental illness on generations of a family. Jacqueline Woodson, who won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, is nominated this year for “Another Brooklyn,” a coming-of-age story set in 1970s Brooklyn, which is her first adult novel in 20 years. Other nominees include Paulette Jiles, Chris Bachelder, Brad Watson, the debut novelist Garth Greenwell and Elizabeth McKenzie, whose novel “The Portable Veblen” features a neurotic soon-to-be married couple and a friendly squirrel, who becomes a sort of sidekick to the novel’s heroine.

Books about war, racism and slavery also dominated the list of nonfiction nominees, which included two books about slavery, by Manisha Sinha and Andrés Reséndez, who wrote about American Indian enslavement, and a history of racism in the United States, by Ibram X. Kendi. Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won the Pulitzer Prize last year for his novel “The Sympathizer,” was nominated for what he has described as a nonfiction companion to that book, titled “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.” Heather Ann Thompson’s “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy,” which has been widely praised by critics as an indispensable work about police brutality, racism and mass incarceration, is also among the finalists.

In the Young People’s Literature category, the nominated works address challenging subjects like domestic violence, sexuality, race and class, and how children cope during wartime. The nominees include Kwame Alexander’s “Booked,” Kate DiCamillo’s novel “Raymie Nightingale,” Grace Lin’s “When the Sea Turned to Silver,” and Sara Pennypacker’s “Pax.”

The nominees for poetry included Kevin Young, Monica Youn, Jane Mead, the Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureate Rita Dove, and Solmaz Sharif, who recently published her first poetry collection.