This Week In Books

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature: This Week in Books

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Many people were surprised at the news this week that Bob Dylan had won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Rumors, though, that Dylan could win the prize have been circulating for years, and 20 years ago, Allen Ginsberg himself wrote to the Nobel committee nominating Dylan. Dylan is the first American to win the award since Toni Morrison in 1993, and it will likely be some time before another American wins.

For my part, I think Dylan is absolutely deserving of the Nobel, but I wish someone else would have won. The Nobel exists to recognize outstanding achievement in literature and has unparalleled power to introduce underknown writers to the world. There is probably no Nobel literature winner who was and is better known than Bob Dylan. Even if the Nobel committee was interested in expanding the range of what can be considered literature, surely there are myriad singer-songwriters from countries around the world they could have chosen.

I will close, though, with my favorite “literary” Dylan song, “A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall,” a Woody Guthrie/Allen Ginsberg mash-up that manages to become its own aesthetic.

HarperCollins UK Launches a Site Dedicated to Literary Events

Literary events range from tiny book groups in local libraries to enormous, multi-day literary festivals. And even in a medium-sized city, it is very difficult to keep track of what is going on at bookstores, college campuses, libraries, arts centers, and on and on.

BookGig, from the UK division of HarperCollins, is trying to solve that problem for readers, though just for UK literary events for now. The site is meant to be publisher agnostic, so that events from all kinds and sizes of publishers will be included (smart) and submitting an event for inclusion is open to all (tricky). The underlying premise of BookGig seems to be that more people would go to literary events if they had better information. This is possible. It is also possible that people make the effort to find out about the events, authors, and venues they care about despite the difficulty, and that more information won’t necessarily lead to more attendance. We shall see.

Random House Experiments with Short-form, Direct to Readers

Publishing has started dipping its collective toe in the direct-to-reader world, from branded ereading apps, to ebooks deals newsletters, to exclusive deals on publisher websites.

Season of Stories, from Penguin Random House, is a twist on these experiments: free, email stories from PRH authors, including Anthony Marra, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Adam Johnson. Through the fall and winter, subscribers will get a complete story emailed to them weekly.

What does PRH want from this? Could be exposure for its authors. Could be finding out if there is appetite for direct, short-form content. Could be email acquisition for other projects. It seems like a low-cost, innovative effort with a definite beginning and end. So, it clears several of the requirements for a useful experiment.

Before you go, check out this pretty great giveaway we are running. We’ve got 5 advanced, signed copies of George Saunders’ upcoming novel, Lincoln in the Bardo to give away. And not just that: winners will also receive the complete Saunders backlist. So go here to enter if that is interesting to you, or just click the image below.


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