Archives for category: Rebecca Frederick

According to the AP, some members of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature have alleged that other members are biased towards European writers and against American ones. Supporters of this allegation point to the fact that, of the last twenty Nobel Laureates for Literature, only one was an American while fourteen were from the European continent. They blame American literature’s overly “insular” quality as a result of a shortage of translated literature in the American mass market as the cause of this discrepancy.

Okay, yeah, fourteen out of twenty is a lot. But I think it is worth remembering that Europe is made up of more than one country; while “America” refers to the United States. Is it really fair to compare a continent to a country? Three of the fourteen European wins went to the United Kingdom – if there’s a bias here, I’d say it was in favor of the United Kingdom!

It’s interesting that they are saying that the problem with Americans is our lack of translated literature. If that’s a problem, we’re in good company – out of that same glorious twenty, a full eight of the Laureates wrote in English. The second most common language used was German – with only three occurrences out of the twenty.

Maybe when more translated works start winning, there will be a higher demand for them in the American market.

Next time the Nobel committee wants to find its way into a blog or two, maybe they should do so without weakly accusing each other of biases.


In a broadcast interview on Friday, U.S. Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), concluded his discussion on terrorism with the enjoinment that children “go to bed on time because Santa only visits houses where kids are sleeping.” NORAD is a joint organization between Canada and the U.S. that monitors the skies and seas of North America, providing air sovereignty enforcement, defense, and aerospace warning for the two countries. But every Christmas Eve since 1955, this group, one of the most technologically advanced military commands in the world, adds Santa to its list of monitored parties.

Over the last several hundred years, the Santa Claus story has changed very little. From a literary standpoint, the tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa is one of the very few modern additions to the tale that has survived beyond the span of an ad campaign. Taking the element of the narrative that involves Santa’s travels around the globe, NORAD infuses the folk tale with a bit of twenty-first century technology. It is due to traditions like these that Santa and his story continue to not only charm but truly touch so many people. Last year alone, NORAD answered 74,000 phone calls and 3.500 e-mails for Santa. Clearly, NORAD’s techie addition to the tale represents a significant link between the fairy tale of Santa Claus and the children of the Computer Age.

An unprecedented thirteen of the twenty finalists for the 2010 National Book Awards are women, according to author Pat Conroy’s Wednesday, October 13 announcement for the National Book Foundation.

For Fiction, these finalists are Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule, Nicole Krauss for Great House, Lionel Shriver for So Much for That, and Karen Tel Yamashita for I Hotel. Jonathan Franzen’s latest critically acclaimed and bestselling novel Freedom was not the fifth finalist in this category; that honor is instead Peter Carey’s, for Parrot and Olivier in America. Read the rest of this entry »