“One lives life and then dies having only been one person, and I find that a difficult condition sometimes. And that's why imagination and invention and empathy seem to me so important. In order not to be trapped inside our one personhood, we have to try to imagine what it's like to be other people.”—Lisa Halliday, author of the debut novel Asymmetry, on NPR

+++M. Obama

“Writing Becoming has been a deeply personal experience. It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajectory of my life.”—Michelle Obama, in an official statement by the Crown Publishing Group, announcing th e Nov. 13, 2018, publication date of the former first lady’s highly anticipated debut memoir


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I have been known to Kurds since 1992. But until recently, I could never introduce myself here in Germany as a writer. Musicians or painters can demonstrate anywhere and at any time that they are artists. But as a writer, I only exist where my words live and breathe and take flight. I am only there where my language resonates.”—Kurdish author Bachtyar Ali, on having his novels translated into German, the language of the country he’s called home for over 20 years, at the German-Islamic cultural exchange website Qantara.de


“The ebook is a stupid product. It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience. We, as publishers, have not done a great job going digital.”—Arnaud Nourry, CEO of Hachette Livre, in an interview with the Indian news site Scroll.in on the future of digital publishing


“[W]hen you look at the four categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature—what’s missing is the rest of the world.”—Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, on the recent establishment of a fifth award, the National Book Award for Translated Fiction, at Words Without Borders

McIlvain +++

“I have a certain contempt for people who write autobiographical characters that are really likable, always do the right thing, and are just so virtuous. I think, how dumb. I’m pretty comfortable taking a personal avatar and making him or her do awful things. I get to do them in my fiction, and maybe that’s why I don’t do them in my life.”—Ryan McIlvain, author of The Radicals, in Vanity Fair

Megan Labrise is a staff writer and the co-host of the Kirkus podcast, Fully Booked. The photo of Michelle Obama is by Ali Shaker/VOA. The photo of Ryan McIlvain is by Brinn Willis.