The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Manil Suri has won the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his novel The City of Devi. The award, whose distinguished honorees include Tom Wolfe and John Updike (the winner of a lifetime achievement award), was created to "draw attention to crude, badly written, or perfunctory use of passages of sexual description in contemporary novels — and to discourage it." In the offending passage, Suri writes, "Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice." The award was presented by Joan Collins at a ceremony in London. Suri did not attend. Contacted for comment after the ceremony, he said he did not know that Collins would be presenting the award: "My one chance to meet Joan Collins, and I blew it!"
- The novelist Joyce Carol Oates considers Mike Tyson's autobiography and the "malevolent ballet" of prize fighting in an essay for The New York Review of Books. "To see Tyson's early fights, both amateur and professional, is to see young boxers stalked, cornered, and swiftly beaten into submission by a younger boxer who pursues them across the ring with the savagery and determination of [Jack] Dempsey ... To see these fights in quick succession, the shared incredulity of the boxers who have found themselves in the ring with the relatively short, short-armed Tyson, their disbelief and astonishment at the sheer force of their opponent as he swarms upon them, is to witness a kind of Theater of the Absurd, which is perhaps the most helpful way to understanding boxing."
- Ahmed Fouad Negm, one of Egypt's most famous poets and among the first to write in colloquial Egyptian, died Tuesday at age 84. Fiercely political, he spent a total of 18 years in jail under Presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar Sadat, but he reserved particular ire for President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in 2011. Negm told The New York Times in 2006: "The government has always been run by pharaohs, but in the past they were honorable. Now, Egypt is ruled by a gang, led by Hosni Mubarak."
- NPR's Book Concierge lets you filter the best books of 2013 by categories such as "Seriously Great Writing," "Love Stories," "Funny Stuff," or "For Art Lovers." (That combination gives you the magical Encyclopedia Of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg.)
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