An insightful addition to the Columbia Global Reports roster.



A critical appreciation of “world literature,” highlighting works that combine specifics of locality with global reach.

Like “world music,” the very notion of world literature has become problematic, weighted with notions of cultural imperialism, dilution, elitism, and what Kirsch (Jewish Studies/Columbia Univ.; The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature, 2016) terms “the original sin of translation itself.” Does simple translate better than complexity? Do novels that appeal to the lowest common denominator stand a better chance of crossing borders than ones that are unique to the culture that spawned them? Is the whole issue “just another way of asking whether a meaningfully global consciousness can exist”? A poet and critic, the author finds plenty of literary value in novels that have found a readership well beyond the author’s homeland. He matches six of the books that he surveys into pairs, and some of these pairings can initially seem arbitrary. Sure, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island might both be categorized as “dystopian,” but even Kirsch admits that “writers more different than Atwood and Houllebecq can hardly be imagined—the Canadian feminist and the French misogynist,” although he makes a case for some sort of shared moral vision and social criticism. Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Roberto Bolaño's 2666 are both epic, doorstop volumes with numbers in their titles, though the critical receptions to the two were very different. Kirsch is shrewd on what he terms “a new genre of English-language fiction…call it migrant literature,” which is less about an immigrant’s arrival than a transitional passage, one that reinforces the notion of globalization in novels whose cultural roots are tougher to untangle. The author finishes with the popular and critical triumph of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which are so personal and specific to Naples yet so universal in theme.

An insightful addition to the Columbia Global Reports roster.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9977229-0-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?