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Book news in the new year

January 2, 2009 |  2:45 pm


Literary folks at the New Yorker have resolved to take January to read Roberto Bolaño's "2666" and blog about it on the Book Bench. The book seems huge, but spread out over a month it'll only be about 30 pages of reading a day. They're calling it National Reading "2666" Month and are inviting you to join — no comments on their blog, so you'll have to drop them an e-mail with your thoughts.

Award-winning prolific mystery writer Donald E. Westlake has died. The 75-year-old wrote more than 90 books, often under pen names, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West. He also wrote screenplays, including the adaptation of Jim Thompson's "The Grifters," for which Westlake received an Oscar nomination. And his legacy isn't yet complete; "Get Real" is due out this year.

We knew that the MLA was on; now we also know that search committees reviewed about 200 applications for each open position in their college English departments. Which isn't actually all that much worse than in years past. Maybe PhD students should take a hint from Doonesbury's Zonker and try not to graduate too fast.

In New York City, the French bookstore Librarie Francaise is saying "adieu." It opened in 1935 in Rockfeller Center — David Rockefeller, it is said, wanted Europeans in his new building — but now it can't afford the rent, which is going from $360,000 to $1 million a year (via).

Works written in French and nine other languages made the 25 Best Translated Books of 2008 longlist from Three Percent. For the next three weeks, the site will be highlighting a book a day; the winner will be announced Jan. 27. Not that I'm handicapping, but the list includes Roberto Bolaño's ever-popular "2666."

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by David Reber via Flickr