March is coming in like a literary lion. This week, we’re remembering the birthdays of four NYRB authors.
We start off with William Dean Howells (1837-1920), who was born on March 1st, and whose Indian Summer, the story of a season in a life of an American newspaper publisher turned expat in Italy, is at once a brilliant comedy of errors and a charming, memorable romance. Or, as John Updike said, “A midlife crisis has rarely been sketched in fiction with better humor, with gentler comedy and more gracious acceptance of life’s irrevocability.”
Up next is Yuri Olesha (1899-1960). Born in Odessa on March 2nd to a card-playing father, Olesha grew up to be the author who decried the loss of the artistic freedoms before the First Congress of Soviet Writers. His masterpiece Envy depicts an anti-hero who both hates and is deeply jealous of his Soviet superiors. Envy is a darkly comedic depiction of humanity both its best and its worst, and, as was written in The New York Times, “Every page of Olesha demands to be read and seen again.”
March 4th marks the birth of Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911). Hailed by Milan Kundera as “The greatest Modern Greek prose writer,” Papadiamantis wrote The Murderess, a tale of crime and punishment that will send chills up any reader’s spine. It is the story of Hadoula, an old woman living in the margins of society, who, rocking her new-born granddaughter to sleep, realizes that there is nothing worse than being born a woman—and that there’s something she can do about it.
Finally, on March 6th, join us in paying tribute to Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize winner and author of many renowned and beloved works. We’re proud to have published in the NYRB Classics series his Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín, a true-life adventure story and a superb work of modern reportage about an exile’s return to Chile.
March 1, 2012, 6 a.m.