Today in books and publishing: Roth's first and last interview in retirement; Penguin is lending library e-books again; new work by Mo Yan gets an English translation; a whole new kind of (dollar) book vendor.
Philip Roth ends his struggle. Philip Roth didn't want a retirement party. He tried to go out quietly, privately deciding in 2010 not to write any more fiction. But when word leaked that he told foreign press that he'd written enough, lots of readers wanted an explanation. In his first interview since the news came out—and apparently his last until his biography does—Roth tells Charles McGrath, "I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration." Every morning he looks at a sticky note on his computer that reads, "The struggle with writing is over." So now, instead of literary pursuits, he just fiddles around with an iPhone all day. "Every morning I study a chapter in iPhone for Dummies, and now I’m proficient. I haven’t read a word for two months. I pull this thing out and play with it." [The New York Times]
Retirement must be all the rage amongst writers these days, because Hungarian Nobel laureate Imre Kertész has decided to follow Roth's lead. Bear with us while we quote from Google's translation of a French article, itself translated from a Hungarian newspaper item, but it seems that Kertész has decided to throw in the towel in part because of complications from Parkinson's disease, and because he feels that he has said all that he wants to about his work's dominant theme—the Holocaust. The 83-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald has entrusted his papers to the Academy of Arts in Berlin. [ActuaLitté]