Odds on Murakami for Nobel Prize, the Revelations of Marilynne Robinson, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

The Nobel Prize in literature will be announced this Thursday by the Swedish Academy, and Haruki Murakami, a perennial favorite to win the prestigious award, is once again topping the odds this year. According to the British betting site Ladbrokes—which has historically seen the eventual winner of the prize soar to the top of the betting pool in the days and weeks preceding the prize announcement—Murakami shares 4/1 odds of winning the 2014 prize with Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich is the third favorite at 7/1. (Guardian)

“‘Somebody who had read Lila asked me, ‘Why do you write about the problem of loneliness?’ I said: ‘It’s not a problem. It’s a condition. It’s a passion of a kind. It’s not a problem. I think that people make it a problem by interpreting it that way.’” New York Times Magazine’s Wyatt Mason talks to Marilynne Robinson, seventy, who has been long-listed for this year’s National Book Award in fiction, about her latest novel, her long career as a writer and teacher, and her relationship with faith.

The Brooklyn, New York–based independent publisher Akashic Books is partnering with the Nation’s sports writer, David Zirin, to launch Edge of Sports Books, a new imprint devoted to sports titles with a progressive political slant. (Publishers Weekly)

In an effort to draw more business to independent bookstores in the United Kingdom, indie shops throughout Britain will be celebrating “Super Thursday” this week, when more than three hundred new titles will hit the shelves. Tim Walker, the president of the U.K.’s Booksellers Association, is hopeful that the event will give independent bookstores a boost in the age of Amazon. “The huge number of new, and highly-anticipated titles creates an awful lot of news and gets people into bookshops, which are the best places to discover other books.” (Guardian)

“It’s important to remember that this is a tale of digital disruption, not good and evil.” Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of the New York Times, took on the Amazon-Hachette dispute in her weekly column yesterday, arguing that the news sources should be covering the battle, rather than taking sides.

Milq, a culture-sharing website and app, has partnered with Simon & Schuster to launch a new content category for books, which will allow users to “share audio and video around their favorite books on Milq, organizing them into collaborative, interactive playlists called Beads.” Simon & Schuster will establish two of its own beads, “What Are You Reading?” and “Books That Changed My Life,” which will be updated with responses from the publisher’s writers. (GalleyCat)

The New Yorker explores the work of Russian author Lyudmila Ulitskaya, whose controversial novels challenge the Russian state, and whose latest book, The Big Green Tent, will be published in the United States next year. “I can’t change what happened, but I can think about it,” Ulitskaya says of her work, which often chronicles her own past. “I can analyze. And then you start to see details you couldn’t see when you were inside that time.”