The Birdcage Archives

Sunday 30 September 2018

Nobel Foundation Applies Further Pressure to Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

Nobel Week starts tomorrow, with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine being announced tomorrow morning. Following the Medicine prize is the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday; Wednesday sees the Nobel Prize in Chemistry being announced; followed by Friday’s announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, the Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded this year, as it had been postponed due to controversy and crisis in the spring. Tomorrow will also be the day French-Swedish photographer and Stockholm cultural figure, Jean-Cluade Arnault will be sentenced with regards to charges of sexual assault and battery.

Jean-Claude Arnault was a key figure in the Swedish Academy’s crisis which caused for the Nobel Prize for Literature to be postponed, both due to the allegations leveled against him of sexual assault, but also the fact he ran and co-owned a cultural club with his wife, Swedish Academy Member: Katarina Frostenson; which received financial assistance and funding from the Swedish Academy. It has also been alleged that Katarina Frostenson divulged confidential information to her husband with regards to the Nobel Laureate in Literature, specifically that for two decades she sporadically prematurely revealed who would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, which violates the statute of secrecy. Jean-Claude Arnault refutes and denies all allegations of sexual assault, while Katarina Frostenson denies any conflict of interest with regards to receiving funding from the academy to help run the club she co-owned,  as well as the accusation she had violated the statute of secrecy by realsing the names of Nobel Laureates in Literature, prematurely. In fact, Katarina Frostenson has proposed she was a victim of the Swedish Academy and was sacrificed to save the brand and reputation of the academy.

Over the course of the spring the Swedish Academy found itself placed in a public scandal and fall out, with four members officially resigning; while another four stepping aside and refusing the participate in the academy’s work. Former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy and Horace Engdahl had a heated exchange over the events which saw the academy fall into ruin. Since the spring the Nobel Foundation and its chairman, Lars Heikensten, have watched the subsequent scandal with shame and horror. In his position as chairman of the Nobel Foundation (the highest authority for the Nobel Prizes) Lars Heikensten has attempted to work with the academy to resolve its internal governance issues. The Swedish Academy, however, has refused his consultations, counsel, and assistance. Since then Lars Heikensten has eluded that the Nobel Prize for Literature for two-thousand and nineteen may also be indefinitely put on hold, if the Swedish Academy cannot restore its reputation and be recognized as a legitimate institution within the public’s eye—both in Sweden and internationally.

In the event the Swedish Academy decides to continue to move forward and name two laureates in two-thousand and nineteen, as they’ve said they would, without restoring faith, trust and legitimacy, Lars Heikensten had threatened the Nobel Foundation will withhold the prize money.

In a recent interview, Lars Heikensten has eluded that the situation within the Swedish Academy has not improved. Recently the Swedish Academy had renewed and modernized their statutes, but the response was lukewarm and seen as a superficial gesture. In the interview with Reuters last Friday, Lars Heikensten stated the following:

“If things continue in this way, and if they don’t manage to regain legitimacy, then we might be forced to take drastic steps. One of those steps could be asking permission to have some other organization being responsible for the prize.”

In the same interview, Lars Heikensten had eluded that other members need to resign from the Swedish Academy, but did not elucidate any further. As for the Swedish Academy they have yet to respond, if they chose to respond. In the past the Swedish Academy had argued that any removal of the Nobel Prize for Literature form their stewardship would result in a legal contentious argument, one in which Lars Heikensten has implied to being willing to fight if it means saving the reputation of the prize.

For now though Gentle Reader, Nobel Week will soon begin and Thursday will be quiet as there will be no announcement for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading Please see the following articles –

The Local Sweden: "Nobel Foundation warns it may strip Swedish Academy of literature prize,"

The Tribune: "Swedish Academy postpones Nobel Literature Prize leaving blank page for 2018,"

Reuters: "Nobel Foundation says could strip Swedish Academy of literature prize role,"

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Murakami: Miracle or Menace

Hello Gentle Reader

There can be no denying that Haruki Murakami would be considered an outlier or an anomaly within the literary and publishing world. Some, however, would go on and describe the author as a miracle of the literary and publishing world, due to his sky rocketing success he has found as a foreign author translated into English. Statistically speaking, only about 3% of books published in a year are translated from other languages—though this trend has increased over the past few years. Publishers have stated they do not publish translated literature, due to native English language speaking readers, treating them with uncertainty and disdain; which often meant publishing a piece of translated work was a gamble that often ended with little monetary gain and no success. Yet, publishers such as Dalkey Archive Press continued to push through language and cultural barriers, whereupon they published numerous translated pieces of literature. Their catalogue though was often populated by strange, experimental, and at times postmodern pieces of work that fit a niche readership rather than a widespread commercial oriented audience. To be blunt: a great deal of readers, have neither the time nor the tolerance to read a novel or a short story collection or a poetry ensemble, which patronizes them with pretense and pomp; a piece of work which was written on the sole ground to showcase its own self-absorbed grandeur and high opinion of its own cultural merits and cleverness. In short, if a book alienates a reader by its own volition, the writer has ultimately failed, and the reader will judge with scalpel scrutiny and there is rarely any room for redemption. Then there is Haruki Murakami, the translated literary superstar—the Japanese equivalent of J.K. Rowling with his literary success. His works are enjoyed globally, and he has faithful followings in such places as: China, Taiwan, (South) Korea, North America (United States especially), France and Germany.

Back in March: Newcastle United Kingdom, hosted its first Haruki Murakami Conference, which was attended by scholars, academics, and translators to discuss the work of the Japanese author. In usual character (or perhaps in good taste), Haruki Murakami himself was not present for the conference. Since the Newcastle Conference, other conferences have been planned in: France, the Philippines, and Australia, all with the same goal of discussing and reviewing the works of the author. A cynic might make a comment with ironic connotations about how one would know they’ve found success when conferences are hosted in your honour, and your work is reviewed with such inquisitive interest. For his part though, Haruki Murakami remains either reticent or nonchalant about the entire affair; in the end at this point: his silence is guaranteed. The academic attention coupled with his popular success and critical acclaim has made Haruki Murakami a polarizing figure. Some have called Murakami a literary miracle; while others have referred to him as a parading populist menace. This leads to the question: when does critical praise become cultural norm? and when does criticism become jealousy? When it comes to Murakami it is difficult to see where either begins or ends. Yet, when looking at the authors work through the context of Japan’s literary history, and the rampant rise of globalization and cultural exports, Haruki Murakami becomes a mercurial mirror like figure, one in which either perspective can be reflected; all the while the author himself declines in participating or clarifying either point.

More recently, Haruki Murakami’s influence can be seen with his recent withdrawal from the Alternative Nobel’s shortlist. The inclusion of the writer on the shortlist showcases his popularity and readership worldwide, as he beat out a longlist dominated by English language writers who have gathered worldwide attention and acclaim. But when it came to the world to vote on the authors they wished to see shortlisted and seek to win the award, Haruki Murakami came out triumphantly in the top four. Once again: another testament of his global readership and popularity. Yet, his withdrawal from the award is riddled with intrigue. As one of the most recognized and famous Japanese writers of the contemporary literary world, Haruki Murakami is often considered at the forefront for the Nobel Prize for Literature. In annual speculations and betting sites lists of potential winners, Haruki Murakami can be relied on to occupy a prominent spot, of a potential and perhaps even likely candidate to receive the award. Officially, Haruki Murakami had requested to be removed from the shortlist citing his desire to focus more on his writing. For the most part his devote readers have been accepting of this decision. Some have gone so far as praising the decision whereby they’ve expressed contempt towards the Alternative Nobel, as populist and reactionary against the Swedish Academy. It appears for Murakami’s fan, if he is to win any Nobel, it will be thee Nobel Prize for Literature. Anything secondary is just that: a hack or mere shadowy remnant of the true golden prestige.  It can be theorized that Haruki Murakami shares this same thought. If he is going to win any Nobel, it will be the true deal, not a gold plated alternative version of the prize. Removing himself from the shortlist may also help any of his future prospects (though this again is speculation), as it can be deemed by previous behaviors and precedence set by the Swedish Academy, they do not take it kindly when an author may have insulted their institution or prize, advertently or otherwise. By withdrawing from the shortlist, Murakami may maintain his chances at the real deal, while keeping good faith towards both the prize and the Swedish Academy. It should be noted, the idea of Haruki Murakami winning the prize is not discussed with the author personally, he treats the subject as impolite and even foreign; yet it is highly speculated the author seeks to receive the honour and solidify his position as one of the greatest writers of his time; but such coveting can only be seen as mere speculation not with any valid factual evidence.

The question then is: what is the secret success of Haruki Murakami’s global appeal with readers? After all, he’s a post-war [Japanese] baby boom postmodern novelist, which in any other case or in relevance to any other author would be considered a synopsis curse, rather than marketing mayhem blessing. For Murakami, he retains his stance as a curious breed of literary stardom; but his success can be made out quite clearly when reviewed as a whole. For English language readers, Haruki Murakami does not market himself necessarily as foreign or strange—though the term ‘strange,’ is often attributed to his works. His literary influences are explicitly Western in nature, and he makes frequent references to popular culture (music and films) and classical western culture in his work. His self-confessed influences are: Raymond Chandler, Franz Kafka, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, Kurt Vonnegut, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Gabriel García Márquez. Following his influences are his themes—particularly his preoccupation with dealing with the mundane, the aimlessness of life, the unknown, and his use of empathetic existential dread. A great deal of Murakami’s readership is young; specifically readers in the transitionary stages of adolescences into adulthood and from university into the working world; therefore for the large youthful readership which consume and read his work, these themes particularly resonates with their own dilemmas and uncertainties, as they transition to the world of independence, which includes all of its requirements (education, work, family). Then comes’ Haruki Murakami’s style. His novels are narrated via the first persona, generally a solitary lone individual (more specifically a man), who can precisely observe and repot, with a reasonable objective perspective the situation(s) going within the story. His characters are nothing special: they work in offices, or run bars or cafes, or are unemployed. They are unremarkable. However, their saving grace is how close they exist and live to a rather absurd reality or slight magical infusion of reality. All those who read Haruki Murakami clearly state there is always a quirky and striking adventure to be had; some cryptic magical quest of sorts, which is always brought by the most mundane events; such as a cat going missing or a chance encounter with a mysterious woman. From there the plot twists and turns entering steadily into the absurd. In one novel a woman is stalked by a shadowy figure that inhabits her television—and she is eventually abducted by this stranger, and taken inside the television. In another novel a woman enters a different dimension after walking down a set of stairs. This new dimension appears almost mirror like in reality with the exception of it have two moons, one of which is green. In another a man enters a small village populated by casual violence, unicorn skulls and is deprived of his shadow. In these situations the reader is disarmed and less resistant to the impossibility of what is being depicted, due to reassurance by the casual narrator and observe of the events, who describe them with matter of fact certainty. Beyond his outrageous plots and stories, his casual and solemn observant everyday heroes, his empathic existential ponderings, Murakami’s literary style is also welcoming and comforting to readers in the English language. His language is explicitly minimal and simple; with heavy references to Western pop cultural music, jazz, food, and drink; this allows Haruki Murakami to be both exotic in a superficial manner without alienating readers. His novels and stories could take place anywhere, as it does not rely on any content or context from Japanese literature, culture, or aesthetics. This ironically enough puts Haruki Murakami at odds (or so he says) with the Japanese literary establishment; where he describes himself as an outsider.

When compared to previous Japanese writers such as: Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, and Kenzaburō Ōe; Haruki Murakami would be described as the odd man out, both by his preoccupations, themes, style of writing, influences and success.  When reviewed, compared, and contrasted with his predecessors, Murakami would strike a reader to be staunchly starched, ironed, and whitewashed of any cultural components relating him specifically to Japan. If one were to read the short stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, there is a distinct cultural context and content included in his short stories. The same can be seen with Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata and his pupil, Yukio Mishima, who took Western modernist influences and applied them to Japanese influenced narratives. Kawabata in particular used the delicate nature of Japanese lyricism and haiku’s to paint condescended and emotionally impacting portraits of the human plight in an ever modernizing world, and questioning where Japan existed both traditionally and progressively in this world. Mishima, relied heavily on traditional Japanese cultural tropes in his often nihilistic and brooding narratives, where he discussed fatalist finalities, as well as the Bushido code and the bleak understatements of Buddhism thought, in an ever growing and meaningless modern world. Despite the influences and applications of new western literary tropes, Yukio Mishima was vehemently nationalistic in perspective, both personally and politically; though I do not enjoy his narratives personally, as I find them melodramatic and a bit exaggerated, I can respect his unique and controversial position in Japanese literature. Kenzaburō Ōe, by comparison to his own predecessors, had made a move away from overtly nationalistic principles (mainly in the case of Mishima) and instead focused on the end of Japan after the Second World War, where he explored unique philosophical issues, social issues, existential issues, and concerns about nuclear weapons and power; yet a great deal of his bibliography is centered on his personal autobiographical fiction detailing the crisis he experienced when his son Hikari was born with severe cognitive disabilities; and the theme of disabilities and being ‘wounded,’ or unable to speak or socially connect has remained a strong theme in his work. When compared to Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburō Ōe is equally as politically active, but on the other side of the political spectrum, he has rejected honours bestowed by the Japanese Emperor, and has remained staunchly liberal in his political occupations, as he explores the disenfranchised and disillusionment of contemporary Japanese society. Yet, even here, Kenzaburō Ōe remains interested and concerned about Japanese society, perhaps not praising or depicting it in the same manner as his forefathers and contemporaries; he remains concerned about Japanese society and by extension the reflection of human society as a whole. Haruki Murakami, when reflected on and compared to his predecessors, barely shares any similarities beyond superficial elements, such as: he’s a Japanese writer and he writes novels, short stories, and an essay collection here and there. Beyond that there are few similarities to grasp at. He lacks the lyricism, grace and modernist experimentation of Yasunari Kawabata; the aesthetics of Yukio Mishima; the influences of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and his traditional cultural contexts; as well as the true firm social engagement and social criticism of Kenzaburō Ōe.

What then does Haruki Murakami have? For one: he has a writing formula which has served him well, and allowed him to find a startling and yet fairly earned literary success. Due to his formulaic writing he can casually slip into the absurd and the surreal, and tell a unique story. His characters or rather narrators are empathic and generic enough that they could be anybody, and their issues and lives are as bland and mundane as anyone else’s. Yet, here the difference: they have the opportunity thanks to the author to escape into some strange alternate reality, and enter a unique adventure which takes them out of their normal routines and their boring lives. From there these narrators observe and report, and casually offer philosophical thoughts on their situations and on the world.  For this Haruki Murakami has found international success and a worldwide readership, devote in their enjoyment of his books; all the while publishers have certainly found themselves quite a cash cow for sales and success. Despite his successes, his popularity, and his reticence and nonchalant attitude towards the acclaim that surrounds him, I personally finding Haruki Murakami a literary menace. There is no denying he is a publisher’s miracle; but his supposed literary merits which are quickly attributed to him, are mistakenly applied and are for the most part precedent set pomp, and exaggerated.

When I think of Haruki Murakami and read some of his works (I won’t bother investing in anyway work which exceeds five hundred pages at most), I find his themes are always recycled and reused, and not in any clever way. His characters have become caricatures of themselves, and his depiction of women in particular is rather effacing, and they lack depth and any solid concrete character structure beyond their gender and their tendencies to disappear or being a mere object of desire and affection. His supposed philosophical perspectives are more like fetishist ideas of solitude, both as a requirement in today’s world, but also as a negative impact which has grown to epidemic scales in today’s world, along with other mixtures of sexual longing and other philosophical and existential considerations thrown into the loop. Mainly these are questions asked by all individuals in today’s world, as well as decades prior. The transition between childhood into adulthood, and independence and figuring the world out for oneself, is not a remarkable philosophy, nor is it ground breaking; but it is sellable and easily empathized with, as there is a time someone where in someone’s life they have asked themselves similar questions and contemplated their place within their own life, and what their life should look like. Quite frankly, these attempts at philosophical ‘topics,’ are no more groundbreaking then half-baked ideals of Ayn Rand. In this, I grow concerned with regards to Haruki Murakami and his widespread influence. I find his work often on the verge of being pedestrian and rather unimaginative; his work is outrageously repetitious, with similar plotlines, situations, surreal events, themes, characters, tropes, and narrators. In essence, I view Haruki Murakami as a product of literary globalization; the attempt at writing works which transcend realities of culture and geographical separations, whereby the narratives can essentially be taken in any context and speak on an attempted spiritual level on the basic elements of existence and being human. In reality Haruki Murakami comes across as a product of globalization and rampant suburbia on a global scale. As an author, Murakami has eschewed traditional Japanese literary formats in favour of one influenced by western cultures, especially pop culture, music, and pulp fiction. In reality he is nothing more than a literary menace and a byproduct of global suburbanization, which has placed Japan in the main exports of anime, martial arts/ninjas, Samsung and Android phones, Hello Kitty and other video games. His work is not literary groundbreaking, but rather fragrant frivolity, which has gathered popular attention and is paraded for its populist appeal. His success is owed to him, his work speaks to his readership, but as for any true literary merit and potential, his work is not on par with previous great writers—both Japanese and other wise; which leaves me gravely uncertain and horrified of where this leaves contemporary Japanese literature—or rather what will be translated into English, and be deemed an appropriate representation of true contemporary Japanese literature. At this point it were to appear everything produced or translated from Japan, is the attempt of publishers and agents, seeking to grasp their piece of the cash cow of the Haruki Murakami phenomena, as they vie and attempt to introduce the new Murakami sensation to a hungry English language readership.

First, there was: Banana Yoshimoto, who shares very similar styles and themes to Haruki Murakami. Her prose style is simple, easily translatable, and her work once again details and contemplates the youthful transitionary phase of coming into one’s own. Her work has been described as being aimed towards more feminine or female readers, and she carries a romantic and even slightly sentimental air to her work, as she explores and denigrates relationships between her characters, as well as themes such as the exhaustion of Japans youth, and how traumatic experiences shape an individual. She has found success within the English language, and retains her popularity at home in Japan, but her work is still overshadowed by Haruki Murakami abroad.

There was a brief attempt to see if Yōko Ogawa would be able to meet Haruki Murakami’s shadow. Ogawa had no interest in being compared or competing with Murakami, who she has stated with honesty, has been a great influencer on her work (though it is not readily apparent). Instead if Yōko Ogawa was going to make it in the English language market, she would do so on her own merits, with a translator who would translate and seek to publish her strikingly distant, emotionally restrained narratives, and macabre as well as grotesque imagery depicted with an almost ritualistic and obsessive compulsive manner. If Murakami is a fanciful and flighty magical realist of a writer; Yōko Ogawa’s narratives imply a dark and sinister world inhabiting the personal space of her characters. Her imagery is ghoulish in essence, depicting rotting food, or depleted and derelict buildings or landscapes, or people who are malformed or disfigured by birth or by accident. Despite the grotesque imagery, her narratives are emotionally restrained even stunted, and her narrative voice is distant, cool and detached, allowing her to escape any accusations of sentimentality or blatant exaggerations for a cheap shock or thrill; she avoids it all, and allows the prose and imagery to insinuate the sinister undercurrents of modern society, its disenfranchisement, its disillusionment, and inability to come to terms with its own past, and willfully seeking to absolve itself of its own memory. Her prose is similar to Murakami’s do to its simplicity and almost banal depiction of events, rendered with matter of fact bluntness. Yet her deft innuendos allow her to become an accomplished psychological writer, exploring the sinister crevices of the human soul and shadow, while tracing the curvatures of the obsessive mind, or reaching out to grasp a phantom limb, only to find air and a meaningless emptiness. In these regards, Yōko Ogawa, reaches back to former and formal Japanese cultural contexts and literary methods, as she explores a unique casual interest with the grotesque, and resonates ghostly and ghoulish themes into modern novels and stories, which explore the deft psychology of the peculiar, deformed, lonely, disenfranchised, disillusioned, and otherwise socially alienated from society; which puts her on level with Kenzaburō Ōe in exploring the socially intense themes, but she lacks his out righted critical eye and perspective on such matters. Yet, Yōko Ogawa, has never filled the role of Murakami clone and is not about to either; which is perhaps why in the English language, there is a lack of her work being translated and published, as she did not produce the same results as Murakami; whereas in French she is praised and critically acclaimed with her work being translated frequently into the French language, by her devote French translator: Rose-Marie Makino.

Now a new author has been placed centre stage, in the pursuit of the next Murakami. Her name is: Mieko Kawakami. Kawakami has been applauded in her native Japan as a unique voice literary voice, one that is readable but also literary in its preoccupations. Her use of language, style and themes are renowned for being experimental and unique. Haruki Murakami himself has even given credit to the author, stating she is his favourite young writer currently at work. This endorsement has most likely only increased her literary reputation, but also increased attention and demand for her in the English language. Her novel “Ms. Ice Sandwich,” received positive reviews in periodicals and newspapers in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It was praised for its unique perspective of a school boy’s crush on a woman who works in a local deli and makes sandwiches; critics applauded the novella for its ability to treat the subject matter with innocence and peculiar insight, while avoiding the tropes of sexualization. The novella was also praised for its ability to capture a childlike narrator’s ability to speak, perspective, and thoughts on the world including their ignorance on certain subjects, but also expressing insight into the realms of modern day loneliness and the alienation of technology and real connections. Since then, more of her novels are expected to be released in English translation, including her Akutagawa Prize winning work: “Breasts and Eggs.” Perhaps, Mieko Kawakami will be the predecessor of the new Murakami.

There can be no denying Haruki Murakami is positioned in a unique place the literary world. He’s a publisher’s dream, where he can be portrayed as foreign without alienating his readers, and still be called literary and receive international literary accolades. He’s continually named as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and many of his devoted readers believe this is an accolade that he deserves; especially considering he continues to wrap up and clean house with all the other preliminary awards. Yet, I urge caution and perhaps more viciously with great vitriol, a complete disregard for the supposed apparent literary qualifications and merits the author is supposed to be in possession of. When I read Murakami, and see his work I see a product of global suburbia, and one whose own work has become a self-absorbed caricature of itself, and lacking in any real literary merit. His recent attempts at social interference and commentary are as about as half assed as his output, superficial and cheap sentiment. With regards to the current dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, Murakami made only one statement, where he called nationalism on both fronts cheap liqueur. With regards to the recent executions of members of the doomsday cult: Aum Shinrikyo; Murakami—a renowned advocate of passivism and against the death penalty—stated he supported the executions considering the crimes the group committed; once again though he lacks the sincerity and genuine interest to come across as being engaged enough in the matter to actually merit an opinion on the matter, which would be considered significant. Unfortunately, his opinions are only given significance due to his reputation and success, as well as the desired possibility he may receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. His literary merits are questionable; his talents are perhaps over proportioned, his disregard for Japanese narratives and cultural contexts, is disappointing, which shows a real lapse of themes and beauty which can be found in his predecessors; his lack of social engagements and now attempts at being socially committed and open to discussing political and social concerns is rather superficial and does not carry the gravity of other authors such as: Kenzaburō Ōe. Despite this though, he is a literary miracle, though in my mind a product of global suburbia. He’s praised, lauded, and read worldwide. His work finds readerships, his stories connect, his narrators intrigue and observer. On the flipside he is a literary menace, a mere caricature of his earlier works, a populist paraded paradox; one in which is carried to literary award to literary award, and now literary festivals and confrences. Haruki Murakami is certainly a baffling phenomenon. His shadow resting uncomfortably now on the rest of contemporary Japanese literature being translated and published into other languages, each one expected to carry some reminisces or remnants of Murakami, with that same superficial foreign attitude, yet familiar enough that it’s not off-putting. To be blunt Gentle Reader: they can go on some ghostly cruise or mystery adventure, which takes them through the strangest subterranean realms of human society, but as long as someone listens to jazz music, eats spaghetti, and offers some existential poignant thought or observation which offers some empathic understanding towards the reader, then hell it’ll do just fine. It’s a baffling world; truly baffling.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Thursday 20 September 2018

The Booker Prize Shortlist, 2018

Hello Gentle Reader

The judges for this year’s Booker Prize commented on this year’s shortlist as a: “reflection of the dark times,” in which people currently live in. Without a doubt, the current times in which humanity as a race and as a species finds itself in is troubling and the novels shortlisted for this year’s prize, are said to be a reflection of the anxiety and fear which grips contemporary society. Issues concerning the environment, political upheaval and the rise populism, disenfranchisement, and a uncomfortable expectation to fill traditional roles, are just a few topics which this year’s writers tackle in their novels. Without further ado though, the following list are this year’s shortlisted authors and novels for this year’s Booker Prize:

Esi Edugyan – Canada – “Washington Black,”
Robin Robertson – United Kingdom – “The Long Take,”
Rachel Kushner – United State – “The Mars Room,”
Daisy Johnson – United Kingdom – “Everything Under,”
Richard Powers – United States – “The Overstory,”
Anna Burns – United Kingdom – “Milkman,”

Looking at the shortlist, once again the dominate contenders come from the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively with three finalist coming from the United Kingdom, and another two from the United States, taking the majority spots of the final shortlist, leaving Canadian writer and former Booker Prize nominee, Ersi Edugyan, as a solitary outlier.

This year’s Booker Prize longlist initially turned heads with its daring desire to move away from conventional literary formats and grounds and induct and deliberate, rather unconventional literary formats for the prize, which was the graphic novel “Sabrina,” by Nick Drnaso. The inclusion was met with excitement from critics and the public, who found the induction and inclusion of a graphic novel on the longlist, both daring and revolutionary. It was seen by many as a sign of the changing times of literary culture. However, with the shortlist, the judges had decided to move back towards more conventional grounds of Booker precedence, and literary orthodoxy. There have been a few grumbles over this dismissal, but overall the shortlist has been praised as unique, challenging, and a social conscious eye for concern. Of the shortlist authors, Daisy Johnson is considered a rising but also established start with her novel: “Everything Under.” At just twenty-seven years old, Daisy Johnson is considered to have already begun establishing a career worthy of the name, as her debut story collection: “Fen.” Though she is not the youngest writer to have been shortlisted for the award (Eleanor Catton was also twenty-seven when she was shortlisted), if she wins she will be considered the youngest winner to receive the award at the age of twenty-seven. This in itself is again a positive sign for the prize as it moves steadily away from fixating on established authors and previous winners or nominated writers, and making greater headway for younger and up and coming writers, well on their way to establishing striking and worthy literary careers.

On the flipside of matters, however, this year’s Booker Prize had a unique criticism to make towards some of the books and authors which had been nominated by publishers. Much like I often feel, the judges this year have advised writers to quite being long-winded and overtly verbose in their writing, and encouraged editors to take more active and participatory approach. Many of the nominated books the authors had read during the nomination and longlist deliberations were often over-wrote, and riddled with windbaggery. The judges often felt some of the novels nominated could have been shorter, and would have had greater success if they were shorter, due to a more active editor, and a stronger relationship existing between the two professions. On that note, Gentle Reader, it should be noted to all writers aspiring or otherwise: subtraction can often be addition when done correctly; and on a personal note: I will most likely never read a ‘meganovel,’ or doorstop, tombstone piece of literary work; I personally feel that I have neither the time nor the tolerance or patience to swath and slice through the overgrown jungle text, of someone who believes they have that much to say, only to reveal they have nothing to say.

In the end though Gentle Reader, congratulations to the shortlisted writers. It’s a unique, daring, and experimental shortlist, which again has been described as a unique reflection and perspective of the current situation of contemporary society. Good luck to all the writers!

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading on this year’s Booker Prize Shortlist please see the following articles from “The Guardian,” and “The Telegraph.”

The Guardian -- "Man Booker 2018: Daisy Johnson becomes youngest ever author shortlisted for prize,"

The Guardian -- "Man Booker prize shortlist narrows the field – and also its sights?"

The Telegraph -- "Man Booker Prize judges tell authors: stop being so long-winded,"

Jean-Claude Arnault’s Trial – Begins

Hello Gentle Reader

Just as the Swedish Academy attempts to rebuild its former self, another punch is once again thrown in their lap. However, this time, the punch is not directly aimed at the Swedish Academy, but rather gets them in the peripherals. For many, the scales of justice will be watched with duty and scrutiny, as disgraced photographer and Swedish cultural figurer, Jean-Claude Arnault, goes on trial on charges of sexual assault and rape.

Jean-Claude Arnault, is considered the seed that started the hurricane like tempest, which battered the Swedish Academy, and left it in ruin. Jean-Claude Arnaut was officially accused of rape back in two-thousand and seventeen, by eighteen different women, who accused over a period of almost three decades of sexually assaulting and raping them. Once the media got a hold of the accusations and documentation, a storm brewed over the winter and erupted in the spring, which left the academy picking up the ruins, and facing criticism on all fronts. During this storm, Jean-Claude continually denied the allegation leveled against him as false.

Yet, the unofficial “Nineteenth Member,” (a style he often used when referring to himself) has fallen from his former place as a figure of cultural influence in Stockholm, in to a disgraced public personality, who is being seen as Stockholm’s version of Harvey Weinstein.

The trial’s first day of hearings, were yesterday, in Stockholm; and the trial is private and blocked off from media and public access. However, in the documentation filed in the proceedings, Arnault faces charges due to two alleged assaults happening in two-thousand and eleven.

According to court documents obtained by the media, Arnault (72) forced a woman in a state of “intense fear,” to perform oral sex on him, and then have intercourse on October 5 2011. [Fun Fact: the following day, the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced to going to the Swedish Poet, Tomas Tranströmer]. That same year, Arnault has been accused and charged with raping the same woman between the nights of December 2nd and 3rd, while she was asleep. Again, Arnault denies the accusations leveled against him, and professes innocence. In the event, Jean-Claude Arnault is found guilty; he faces a prison sentence of up to six years.

Away from the trial proceedings, during its third party investigation, the law firm investigating the ties with Jean-Claude Arnault, found many wives and former wives of members, and their daughters, had found themselves experiencing displays and assaults of unwanted intimacy from the accused photographer. It has also been reported that thanks to this wife (Katarina Frostenson) he was also in possession of knowledge concerning future Nobel Laureates in their designated year, and would often leak this knowledge.

There is no telling how this will play out for Jean-Claude Arnault or his wife Katarina Frostenson, or by extension the Swedish Academy. It can be stated with certainty that Jean-Claude Arnault, “The Nineteenth Member,” had successfully shown the truly putrid and rotting underbelly of what was once called, Stockholm Cultural Life; the Swedish Academy has been called an institution which values secrecy and nepotism.

Jean-Claude Arnault’s Trial, will only be apply greater pressure on the Swedish Academy, and it will need to work twice as hard to renew and rebuild itself, as an institution of any moral integrity and cultural importance.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading –

The Guardian -- "Nobel panel's '19th member' appears in Swedish court on rape charges,"

France24 -- "Frenchman at heart of scandal at Swedish Academy goes on trial for rape,"

The Local Sweden -- "Trial of Frenchman at centre of Swedish Academy scandal starts,"

The Swedish Academy’s Revised Statutes

Hello Gentle Reader

Last week it was announced after their annual meeting, the Swedish Academy, had released its newly revised internal statutes which would both: a) reflect contemporary societies ideals and principles, and b) be the first step in regaining and renewing its position as a pinnacle and focal point of sober probity in Swedish culture, as well as international literary culture. To quote the pro tempore Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Anders Olsson himself, the revised statutes goals are to: “re-establish trust for its activities,” [meaning the activities of the Swedish Academy] and: “produce a modern interpretation,” the already existing statutes, which were codified in 1786, when the Swedish Academy was first formed and instituted as a royal academy by the then reigning monarch, King Gustav III.

The first statute to be codified is a loyalty obligation; or what others might know as a Fiduciary Agreement. The statement is simply, the Swedish Academy expects all members of the institution to keep in mind their membership carries responsibilities, and that all members are to put the academy’s interests and activates, before their own, and avoid any collusion, collision, or conflict of interest between the academy’s activities, and their own personal interests, goals, and activities. Furthermore, the statute outlines, that all sitting members are expected to avoid and not participate in any slander or criticism against the Swedish Academy or a fellow member, and again work within the statutes of confidentiality and do the good work of the academy with honesty and integrity.

This first statute already sets the playing field of how the Swedish Academy plans to curtail and avoid further public scandals, like the spring incident. This statute is aimed primarily at the vocal groups within the academy who choose to exchange words publicly though media channels, interviews, public letters, and other forms of public relations communications. Those members are:

Horace Engdahl
Göran Malmqvist
Sture Allen


Sara Danius
Peter Englund
Kjell Espmark

And only later on, with an attempt at clarifications and accusations, the disgraced member: Katarina Frostenson.

How this will affect the buisness moving forward would be considered clear, but its applications and implementations are still in the infancy stage. The public not have a public dispute and war of words between the academy’s factions, but there is still a bitterness brewing in the broth, and I doubt we’ve seen the complete end of the dispute in a public light just yet.

Following this statute, comes the matter of electing new members. By previous statute measures, the Swedish Academy required twelve members to hold a quorum in order to make major decisions, such as the election of new members. The Swedish Academy wishes to revise this matter, and allow this statute to be bypassed in the event of emergency situations, with the Kings consent to elect new members despite lacking the quorum. This revised statute would therefore break the current deadlock facing the Swedish Academy, and mean they do not require the return of Sara Danius, Peter Englund of Kjell Espmark to participate in passive roles, in order to elect new members.

Finally the issue of expulsion is discussed during these statute revivals. However, the Swedish Academy is still hesitant on discussing the matter with great clarity. When discussing the statute of expulsion prior to this revival, it had appeared the idea was precedence rather than a codified code of conduct, which had swayed the discussion and end result on whether or not Katarina Frostenson should be expelled from the Swedish Academy. Previously only one member had been expelled from the Swedish Academy, and that was Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt; and he was technically expelled twice; the second time, I believe he was excluded from the academy, because he faced criminal charges of treason, as well as a sentence of execution. By this precedence, the Swedish Academy was under the guise that only a member who had committed a grave crime or faced extreme criminal charges should be excluded from the academy. Now, in their revision, the Swedish Academy has stated that a member can only be excluded when they have been found to have committed “clear malpractice.”

What is defined as “clear malpractice,” is still ironically enough: unclear. During the spring scandal of the Swedish Academy, the law firm which investigated the Swedish Academy’s the convoluted business ties with cultural club, Forum, run by inactive member, Katarina Frostenson and her criminally accused (and charged) husband Jean-Claude Arnault; the investigation revealed, Katarina Frostenson accepted financial aid from the Swedish Academy to run the club with her husband, as well as she had broken the statute of secrecy on several occasions, by prematurely releasing information relating to the Nobel Prize for Literature, to her husband. Does this count as malpractice, by the new statutes perspective? If yes or no, the Swedish Academy has not elucidated or enlightened the matter any further, and then what is stated in their documents.

There were many other revisions and adjustments made to the statutes, these however were considered the most important statutes to review and revise. It should also be noted, previously this spring/summer, the King of Sweden, had made a revision to the statutes allowing for members of the Swedish Academy to voluntarily resign, or if they do not participate in the academy’s work for two years, their membership is considered expired and their seat can be replaced. These early amendments are also included in the amendments.

Ultimately the King of Sweden as the royal patron must approve these newly renovated documents, before they take any legal hold or authority or have been granted policy powers. Cultural critics, literary critics, and jurisprudence/legal experts and the public have been fiercely debating the amendments, and believe even with these revisions the Swedish Academy, is either naïve or ignorant to think they are out of the swamp just yet. They have a vast mountain to scale, and a lot of work ahead of them before many will even consider giving them any benefit of the doubt. This has been described at best: an act of good faith and keeping face with the public, and merely a scratched attempt to regain former glory and respect.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading, Please See The Following Links –

"[New] Swedish Academy Statutes," [Note: In Swedish]

Local Sweden: "Swedish Academy publishes new statutes after summer of scandals,"

Saturday 8 September 2018

The Swedish Academy’s First Meeting, Reviewed

Hello Gentle Reader

The Swedish Academy held its first meeting since the summer break (and the summer silence), on Thursday September 6th. The following day, Friday September 7th, newspapers ran reports and articles over the few pearls the Swedish Academy wished to disclose with regards to the meetings events. Who was in attendance is not entirely certain, though it is expected the following members were in attendance by Chair Number:

Chair No. 2 – Bo Ralph
Chair No. 3 – Sture Allen
Chair No. 4 – Anders Olsson (pro tempore Permanent Secretary)
Chair No. 5 – Göran Malmqvist
Chair No. 6 – Tomas Riad
Chair No. 8 – Jesper Svenbro
Chair No. 9 – Jayne Svenungsson
Chair No. 12 – Per Wästberg
Chair No. 14 – Kristina Lugn
Chair No. 17 – Horace Engdahl

The above ten members are considered the only remaining ten members still active within the academy. It is still unknown and uncertain if the following three members were in attendance (again organized by Chair Number):

Chair No. 7 – Sara Danius
Chair No. 10 – Peter Englund
Chair No. 16 – Kjell Espmark

It should also be reminded the above three members are considered officially inactive; but have stated they considered returning to the Swedish Academy in a ‘passive,’ capacity, which entails they will only assist the above ten remaining members in electing new members to the currently vacant seats which are:

Chair No. 1 – Formally held by: Lotass
Chair No. 11 –Formally held by: Klas Östergren
Chair No. 13 – Formally held by: Sara Stridsberg
Chair No. 15 Formally held by: Kerstin Ekman (who had been inactive since: 1989, prior)

Finally, it should be noted, Chair No. 18 held by the disgraced (and disgruntled) member, Katarina Frostenson, was also not present at the first autumnal meeting of the academy. She is considered by all accounts virtually: persona non grata—or unwelcome to the Swedish Academy’s meetings.

Anders Olsson has no begun to represent the Swedish Academy as its public relations representative. First, he welcomed the idea of taking back the three members: Sara Danius, Peter Englund, and Kjell Espmark, when it was reported they would be returning. When it was revealed this was misinformation, Olsson remained calm and quiet, not willing to inflame the situation any further.

After Thursdays meeting, Anders Olsson, however has decided to make good faith and put on a good face for both the public, the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Patronage of the Swedish Academy. First and foremost Anders Olsson stated, the academy is already on the path to correct itself and rebuild its trust with the public both in Sweden and internationally, reconstruct its reputation, rebuild the academy to its full potential, and reinstitute itself as a pillar of prestige and honour, worthy to hold the responsibility of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and award the Nobel Laureate in Literature.

In order to do this, Anders Olsson has stated the academy plans on recruiting a jurist (or lawyer) sit on the academy. Fun fact, Chair No. 1, has by convention always been occupied by a member of the legal profession. The first member of recent memory to occupy Chair No 1, without having a legal degree or any affiliation with the legal profession was the former member, Lotta Lotass. Anders Olsson, states this tradition must be reinstituted into the academy moving forward, as it will help the academy overall interpret and understand its own statutes and bylaws, as some are centuries old. This legal advice, he believes, would have helped the academy resolve its earlier crisis a lot more efficiently and quietly, rather than how it was handled. After all, a lawyer in the academy could operate in theory as a impartial internal arbitrator or at least a legal resource to help resolve issues the legalities of the academy’s position.

Following this, Anders Olsson has stated the Swedish Academy has worked tirelessly to amend its statutes and rework them into a more contemporary reality. This, however, has raised eyebrows, at least with the royal household. The Swedish palace had released a statement stating that all amendments of statutes of the Swedish Academy would be done so by the King himself. In other words, the Swedish Academy has neither the authority nor autonomy to make any adjustments to its statutes; that ability resides with its Royal patron, the King of Sweden. Yet, according to Per Wästberg, forty-eight paragraphs (or perhaps bylaws and statutes) have been agreed upon to be revised. The palace itself, affirms its stance all revisions will be done by the King himself. This leads one to wonder if the Swedish Academy has any interest in seeing past its own bloated nose, of puffed pompous self-importance. If the Swedish Academy has any desire to make amends it needs to understand its own position, and not supersede or overstep it. After all: they failed at handling the original crisis with decorum, tact and diplomacy, and allowed it to spew into the public realm.

As for now, it is unclear where the Swedish Academy sits. The coming weeks and months will see how they decided to scale the monumental mountain they have created for themselves. Spring may have blossomed into summer, but summer is now leafing into autumn, and soon autumn will freeze into winter. Over the coming weeks, and months the Swedish Academy will need to prove to its patronage and the Nobel Foundation that they have got their house in order, in order to begin doing the great and noble work of the Noble Prize for Literature. Until then—or rather: we’ll see what happens until then.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading Gentle Reader, please see the following links: 

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Sad and Awkward Situation of the Swedish Academy (Continued)

Hello Gentle Reader

Tomorrow, September 6th, the remaining remnants of the Swedish Academy will meet for the first time since the summer break. The meeting is most certainly going to be charged and contentious; and to be blunt: the academy has a lot of work to do, as well as a lot of business to go over and ultimately deal with. The challenge is grand. The mountain is monumental. The task: next to impossible. Yet, the Swedish Academy has chosen to tackle these issues on their own, they have pushed away assistance from the Nobel Foundation; they’ve ignored the calls of the public; and they’ve proven to be at each other’s own throats as they lack the ability to come to terms with how to handle the situation, let alone resolve it. Tomorrow will only mark the first day of many days which will follow, where they will battle, debate, argue, and try (and more than likely) fail to come to a solution with regards to their situation, not to mention rebuilding trust with the public, reestablishing the integrity of the Nobel Prize for Literature, renovating its own public image, and reconstructing the Swedish Academy to its full eighteen member roster.

The past week, there was confusion over the return of three members who voluntarily stepped aside from the academy’s proceedings—those three are: (former Permanent Secretary) Sara Danius, (former Permanent Secretary) Peter Englund, and Kjell Espmark. Initially reports stated that three members who have recused themselves voluntarily would be returning to the academy to continue the good work. Sara Danius and Peter Englund had stated with firm authority they had no intention of returning to the Swedish Academy in any active part. However, they did clarify they would reconvene with the academy on certain issues in a passive role (i.e. assist the Swedish Academy in electing new members).

Yet, just as the Swedish Academy is on the evening of reconvening, disgraced member, Katarina Frostenson has broken her silence with regards to the state of the Swedish Academy; as it turns out, she has not been formally invited to join tomorrow’s meeting; an act some are calling a violation of the Swedish Academy’s statutes. Yet, it should be noted back in April, Katarina Frostenson had voluntarily recused herself from the Swediseh Academy—she has not, however, officially resigned. This decision done as a ‘horse trade,’ between the two camps within the Swedish Academy: Sara Danius would step down as Permanent Secretary and Katarina Frostenson would recuse herself from any further proceedings of the Swedish Academy [for further reading of the entire Swedish Academy please see the end of the blog for a list of previous blog posts].

Katarina Frostenson has stated during the crisis she had met with the then Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy about the crisis facing the Swedish Academy due in part to Frostenson breaking the statutes of the academy (including the statute of secrecy), conflict of interest legalities, as well as the behaviour of her husband, the accused (and formally charged) photographer, Jean-Claude Arnault, who faces criminal conviction of sexual assault as he moves to trial.  Frostenson states that the then Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, stated an ultimatum with three options, in order to bypass a formal vote of expulsion from the Swedish Academy.  Frostenson states the following where the three options presented to her:

(i)                 Leave the academy voluntarily per prompt

(ii)               Continue her work with the Swedish Academy, with severe restrictions (which included excusing herself from all discussions of the Nobel Prize for Literature; selection, voting, and announcing of the award; as well as giving up all privileges of using Swedish Academy properties abroad or in Stockholm)

(iii)             No attendance of any Nobel Foundation event (including award ceremonies) if her husband was to attend as well.

Needless to state the obvious, Frostenson declined all three options, and afterwards the Academy would go to a vote on her expulsion. Frostenson also accuses of Sara Danius of using her position to threaten her, and her co-ownership of the club the Forum, by having the police involved. The rest, as they say is history. Yet, Katarina Frostenson has remained firm on stating she was never committing any act that would be considered ethically inappropriate or economically unacceptable or fraudulent in nature, when she accepted money for the cultural club, Forum, which she co-owned with her disgraced husband. She states that the money allocated by the Swedish Academy to the club, was always used for ‘cultural activities,’ and she had received no personal financial gain from it; others both within the Swedish Academy, former members, and the public completely disagree with her assertion she was acting within the parameters and principles of ethics, legal regulations, financial constitutions, and economic statutes. On that note, Katarina Frostenson, needs to admit at least to her, what she colluded in with her husband, was a supreme issue of ethics and a conflict of interest; she was in the wrong, and she occupies no ground considered moral propriety.

As it stands, Katarina Frostenson will not be attending tomorrow’s meeting. It is unclear whether or not Sara Danius, Peter Englund, and Kjell Espmark will attend either. What is clear: is the workd needs to be done, but is the Swedish Academy prepared to do it?

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For further reading Gentle Reader, please see the following articles. One of them in particular, is by a Swedish lawyer: Jesús Alcala; who plays devil’s advocate over the proceedings of the Swedish Academy, both past and present. It’s a unique read. The others are articles regarding, Katarina Frostenson’s position and clarification over the proceedings:

"Frostenson offed to Protect the Academy's Brand,"

"Katarina Frostenson about the crisis in the Swedish Academy,"

"Frostenson breaks the silence of the Academy: Not right,"

As mentioned above, here are the previous blog posts detailing the events of the Swedish Academy’s Crisis, In Chronological Order:

"Shocking News from the Swedish Academy," 

"Swedish Academy Controversy (Continued),"

"Horace Engdahl Speaks Out,"

"A Shadow Over the Swedish Academy Darkens,"

"A Compromise Which Ends in Tears,"

"Swedish Academy Statutes, Amended,"

"A Statement from the Swedish Academy,"

"Sara Stridsberg Officially Leaves the Swedish Academy,"

"Nobel Prize for Literature 2018, Postponed,"

Saturday 1 September 2018

The Future Library Project Names Newest Writer

Hello Gentle Reader

It’s been four years since the Future Library Project has begun and its first secret manuscript has been locked away from the world for a hundred years—that would Margaret Atwood’s “Scribbler Moon.” Since then, three other writers have been asked to relinquish an original piece of literary work to the project; they include: David Mitchell from the United Kingdom, Sjon from Iceland, and Elif Shafak from Turkey. The newest writer to be inducted into the Future Library Project is the internationally renowned (South) Korean writer, Han Kang.

The induction of Han Kang will mark the first time the Future Library Project has left the North American and Europe sphere of influence, and enter the Far East. Han Kang is a unique choice for the project; she’s a recent international literary breakthrough. Her novel “The Vegetarian,” won the Man Booker International Prize, and was critically acclaimed, as has been her novel “Human Acts,” and her uniquely poignant poetic modernist autobiographical portrait: “The White Book.” Since her prize winning novel “The Vegetarian,” Han Kang has been a constant star on the literary scene and translated literature. Her themes, however, are universal as they are subversive of the everyday cruelty, injustice, madness, and violence which transpire throughout the world on a day to day basis, as well as give commentary on the fragility and frailty of human life in all its precious preoccupations. Katie Paterson, the artist behind the project, remarked that Han Kang’s work can be at times uncomfortable, as it forces the reader to confront the blatant transience of life; a loss of trust in humankind, the acts of mourning and remembering, but also about the shared ideal of human dignity, which in today’s world is a triumphant beacon of hope, but sadly is never boisterous enough to echo louder over the ranting and raving lunacy of contemporary society.  

The Future Library Project has been kind enough to honour such wonderful writers of today whose manuscripts when they are published a hundred years from now will echo their authors original voices, far beyond when they themselves have gone silent lost to both memory and time. The time capsule not only preservers their work, but also their spirit and voice for a hundred years, when it will be released once again, at which point it will echo through the forest, in a time and a society yet completely foreign to it.

I have not had the pleasure of reading Han Kang; yet, I do view her in contrast to her contemporary Bae Suah. Yet, Bae Suah, is more an outsider then Han Kang perhaps; and her work is noted for being more cerebral in scope and delivery; whereas Han Kang is said to occupy the heart and soul of society; Bae Suah, occupies the mind and the shadow. Both writers I presume (as I’ve only read Suah) are remarkable in their talents, and I do hope Bae Suah, will be considered for the project as well in the near future as well.

For now Han Kang will draft a manuscript to join the works of the following authors and their manuscripts:

(2014) Margaret Atwood – “Scribbler Moon,”
(2015) David Mitchell – “From Me Flows What You Call Time,”
(2016) Sjon – “As My Brow Brushes On The Tunics Of Angels or The Drop Tower, the Roller Coaster, the Whirling Cups and other Instruments of Worship from the Post-Industrial Age.”
(2017) Elif Shafak – “The Last Taboo,”

Perhaps the greatest pity of the future library project is we will not be around to read the anthology of voices of this age being presented to the world a hundred years from now. It’s a curious thought what they’ve written, and what remarks they have made on contemporary society and the world, and what kind of society and world will greet them when they have been awakened from their capsule.

Congratulations to Han Kang for receiving the honour to join the project and offer her own voice to the chorus of the past which will sail through time, only to be reawakened a century later to be read, analyzed, and pondered on.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary