Today we celebrate the birth of Helen Keller. Many of us are familiar with the basics of Keller’s biography—that childhood illness left her deaf and blind, that she worked with her teacher Anne Sullivan to acquire language—but she was also a prolific writer and a tireless activist, lending her support to the advancement of women and various socialist causes. Her intellectually daring memoir, The World I Live In, is available from NYRB Classics.
Félix Fénéon (1861-1944), born on June 22, labored in anonymity in a French war office, but he was also a critic, publisher, journalist, anarchist, and “literary instigator.” Also born on June 22 was Dutch author Nescio, or Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh (1882-1961), a writer whose growing reputation and cult readership have marked him as a figure in world literature.
It is with great sadness that NYRB notes the death of celebrated Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk. One of the Dor Tashach—the “1948 generation” of writers who came of age during birth of the State of Israel—Kaniuk was fearless about taking on controversial issues. In his early career, his style ran contrary to those of his peers; rather than embracing realism, he reveled in a stream-of-consciousness more akin to surrealism. He valued self-criticism over self-righteousness.
May 20th marks the birthday of Honoré de Balzac, the inventor of the modern realistic novel. With his keen eye for detail and his unflinching assessment of character, Balzac has been considered a literary forbearer of Flaubert, Proust, and James. On May 22nd we celebrate the birthday of the multitalented Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).
Unnameable Books and NYRB Poets will celebrate the publication of Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think with translators Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich. The reading, which will be followed by a reception, will take place at Unnameable Books in Brooklyn on Friday, May 17, at 7pm.
On Monday, May 6th writers Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis will discuss Kingsley Amis’s newly reissued works of genre fiction, the science fiction/alternative world novel The Alteration and the ghost story The Green Man. Join us at 7pm at the Half King Bar & Restaurant at 505 W 23rd Street in New York City.
On April 11th at 6pm, an all-star line-up of Richard Sieburth, Michael Kunichika, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Matvei Yankelevich will convene at NYU Humanities Initiative to celebrate the publication of Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation For Me to Think (translated by Eugene Ostashevsky, with additional translations by Matvei Yankelevich).