Weekly News Round Up, 9 September 2016: The Meanings of Words

This week's literary highlights from across the world

A very merry greeting to you, Asymptote readers. Today is Leo Tolstoy’s 188th birthday, so we’ll kick this Weekly News Round Up with the Read Russia translation prize shortlist. If you happen to be in Moscow on September 10th, why not go see the award ceremony?

Russia’s rich literary history is well-known, but did you know that the most translated short story in African history is from Kenya? It’s a fable about how humans learned to walk upright and it was written by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

Going to better-known literary histories, statisticians predict Japanese writer Haruki Murikami is most likely to win the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. They predict it’s more likely than Philip Roth, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and Joyce Carol Oats.  It’s great to see so many faces in world literature on the list.

In Western English news, the word “literally” has literally gone through quite a bit. As of late, NPR released a segment with linguist John McWhorter of Columbia University and how our language has evolved over time, chronicling the history of the aforementioned word. Literally fascinating!

And while we’re on the subject of words losing their meanings, take a look at this fascinating essay by Mario Vargas-Llosa. He goes through literary history and shows, perhaps, where we went wrong. LitHub has this scoop on the death of meaning, whatever that means!

And if you’re still convinced that words don’t change, take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary and its etymologies. Many cited their original source coming from Shakespeare. It sounds perfectly normal (to the literary world) until further research discovered that many of these citations were incorrect!

But don’t lose all of your literary faith! A fabulous interview was conducted by our friends at Electric Literature this week with Mauro Javier Cardenas. His debut novel The Revolutionaries Try Again is out now from Coffee House Press. He discusses this and how, how on Earth can death squads and brunch coexist?

And if that doesn’t cheer you up, the first Kurdish novel translated into English is slated for publication. Periscope, the UK-based independent publisher, is releasing it soon. The novel, I Stared at the Night Sky by Bakhtyar Ali is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

That’s all for this week, dear readers. Enjoy a weekend filled with reading into the meanings of life, the meanings of literature, and the meanings of words!