Weekly News Roundup, 11th July 2014: Pet peeves, Tyra Banks, PEN awards

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Canadian author Margaret Atwood is known for her take on speculative fiction, and her latest op-ed-cum-fiction piece proves no exception: in it, she imagines what the Arab-Israeli conflict would look like to a Martian. Similarly problematic is the imminent republication of Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf. At the New York Times, Peter Ross Range reflects on what it means for Germany to have the book in circulation for the first time since the end of World War II.

Just call it “This Latin-American Life:” On the Media’s Bob Garfield chats with Daniel Alarcon, host of “Radio Ambulante,” a Spanish-language radio storytelling program. And, while in the United States, flash mobs are only a slightly annoying former meme, aging groups of Chinese women engaged in public acts of dance (dubbed “dancing grannies”) are really starting to peeve those who aren’t in on the groovy activity. Speaking of disdain, let’s talk the books we love to (casually) hate. Some things we hate are just silly, though: take actress Scarlett Johansson for example, who just won a lawsuit against French fiction writer Grégoire Delacourt for his fiction La première chose qu’on regard, which supposedly defamed the starlet (the book hasn’t even been translated, yet: any takers?).

Let’s talk awards. The official “season” may (finally) be coming to a close, but Asymptote is still giddy to see some past and present contributors make some heavy-hitting lists. The English PEN Awards for translation have been announced, and winners include alums like Susan Bernofsky, Nicky Harman, Elisabeth Jaquette, and current contributing editor and polyglot Adrian Nathan West (take a look at Nate’s most recent translation in our April issue!). The longlist for the Jan Michalski Award has been announced, and the German-language Ingeborg Bachmann-Prize goes to Tex Rubinowitz for Wir waren niemals hier (again: no translation yet). And Japanese-German writer (as well as Asymptote contributor) Yoko Tawada graced the stage at the Internationaler Literaturpreis 2014 (the prizewinning author in this case was French writer Dany Laferrière).

Brush up on your literary history: in Brooklyn, New Yorkuncovering a treasure trove of Hebrew manuscripts, dating from the years between 1474 and 1574. Or, perhaps, take a look at a fashion-forward book of proto-selfies in German nobleman Matthäus Schwarz’s Trachtenbuch. Who knew that Franz Kafka was fashion-conscious? The Paris Review certainly did. And here’s the first English-language rhyming dictionary, with 1570s Manipulus Vocabulorum (can you invent a word to rhyme with “orange?” The Guardian examines the methods behind successful and not-so-successful neologisms).

Perhaps you prefer to look to the future: here are Tyra Banks and Isaac Asimov’s predictions for the future in comparison.