The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Argentine poet Juan Gelman, who denounced the country's "dirty war" of the '70s and '80s, died Tuesday in Mexico City, according to a statement from the Mexican government's arts council. He was 83. The author of more than 20 collections of poetry and a prominent journalist, Gelman won the Cervantes Prize in 2007. It is the highest literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world. He fled Argentina shortly before a military dictatorship took power in a 1976 coup d'état. His son and daughter-in-law were among tens of thousands of people "disappeared" — kidnapped or killed — during the country's "Dirty War." Gelman's daughter-in-law gave birth shortly before she died, and her daughter was placed with a family in Uruguay, according to the BBC. Gelman was reunited with his granddaughter in 2000, after years of searching. In one poem, "The Deluded," translated by Joan Lindgren, he wrote:
hope fails us often
that's why some think
that known grief is better
than unknown grief.
they believe that hope is an illusion.
they are deluded by grief.
- The prestigious Story Prize named three finalists on Monday: Tenth of December by George Saunders, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee and Archangel by Andrea Barrett. The winner of the prize, which celebrates short fiction, will receive $20,000, and the two other finalists will be awarded $5,000 each.
- For The Toast, Mallory Ortberg makes a handy list of ways to tell whether you're in a Brontë novel: "4. You have just been walking in the rain, and everyone who raised you is dead, and you are glad."
- Simon & Schuster is launching a new science fiction imprint called Simon451, a reference to Ray Bradbury's sci-fi classic Fahrenheit 451. According to Publisher's Weekly, "Simon451 is being overseen by senior editor Sarah Knight and will publish titles in the sub genres of fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic and the supernatural."
- Nobel prize-winning author Günter Grass told the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that he doesn't plan to write any more novels. "I'm 86 now. I don't think I will manage another novel," he said.
- Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is coming out with a book called Blue Collar Conservatives in April. According to the press release, "In Blue Collar Conservatives, Santorum will address the plight of America's working families today. A champion of the manufacturing sector, he outlines how a Republican party dedicated to hardworking families, local communities, and small-town values can assemble a winning coalition."
- The BBC reports that Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace prize winner and imprisoned political dissident Liu Xiaobo, has smuggled a recording of herself reading two of her poems out of her apartment in Beijing, where she is under house arrest. The first poem begins:
Is it a tree?
It's me, alone.
Is it a winter tree?
It's always like this, all year round.