Current Weather
The Spy FM

Book News: Iain Banks, ‘Two Of Our Finest Writers,’ Dies

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
June 10, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The Scottish novelist Iain Banks died on Sunday, according to his publisher. He wrote science fiction under the name Iain M. Banks, and mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks, prompting The Telegraph to name him “two of our finest writers.” The author Neil Gaiman wrote in a blog post about Banks’ death that “his work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent.” Banks, 59, announced that he had inoperable cancer on his personal blog in April: “The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late-stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year.” His last book, The Quarry, (written by Iain Banks, sans M) is set to be released in the U.S. on June 25, and is narrated by a teenager whose father is dying of cancer.

Notes on a Scandal author Zoë Heller considers the literary critic Janet Malcolm for The New York Review of Books: “Mess has always inspired fervent emotions in Janet Malcolm. It agitates her. It depresses her. She considers it her enemy. The job of a writer, she likes to remind us, is to vanquish mess — to wade onto the seething porch of actuality, pick out a few elements with which to make a story, and consign the rest to the garbage dump.”

Oprah frenemy and bespectacled Great American Novelist Jonathan Franzen makes an unexpected cameo in a New York Magazine article about the competing animal rights lobbies for birds and cats. According to Franzen, who is a board member of the American Bird Conservancy, “The bird community’s position is, we need to get rid of the feral cats, and that means cats must die.” Cats. Must. Die.

On Monday, the Library of Congress is expected to announce that U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey will be appointed for another year-long term, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that “in her second year Ms. Trethewey will travel the country for a series of reports exploring societal issues through poetry that are to appear on ‘The PBS NewsHour.’ ” (Read her poem “Pilgrimage” here: “Here, the Mississippi carved / its mud-dark path, a graveyard / for skeletons of sunken riverboats.”)

Ben Jahn, a writer and winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, won Round 11 of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction Contest, judged by Swamplandia! author Karen Russell. She told NPR’s Guy Raz, “Ben Jahn’s use of language, the specificity of his details, just blew me away. It was indelible and unforgettable and really chilling.”

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

Hanan al-Shaykh’s One Thousand and One Nights is a vivid retelling of 19 of the classic stories of Scheherazade. Al-Shaykh spoke with NPR’s Rachel Martin: “I fell in love with [Scheherazade] because I thought she was the first feminist. Second, because she was a philosopher, an artist, a writer and she was trying through literature to humanize the king and men around her.” Mary Gaitskill’s ferociously intelligent foreward is also not to be missed.

Although Roberto Bolaño’s novels have enjoyed a burst of popularity in the decade since his death, his poetry (his preferred medium) is still little known in the U.S. The Unknown University, a bilingual edition of his complete poetry lovingly translated by Laura Healy, attempts to fill this gap. Read a poem from the collection over at The New York Review of Books: “But dreams, oblivious to sickness, / showed up every night / with a loyalty that came to surprise him.”

[Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

1PM to 2PM Seasonal Shows

Seasonal Shows

Listen Live Now!

2PM to 3PM The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

Think NPR meets Vanity Fair. In each episode, hosts Rico Gagliano & Brendan Francis Newnam talk with some of the world's most interesting celebrities, and along the way equip you with bad jokes, fresh drink recipes, hot food finds, odd news stories... and etiquette tips from the likes of Henry Rollins and Dick Cavett. It's all you need to get an edge in your weekend conversations. Past guests include Michelle Williams, Judd Apatow, Kid Cudi and Sir Richard Branson. Wallpaper magazine calls The Dinner Party one of the Top 40 Reasons To Live In The USA.

View the program guide!

3PM to 4PM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center