Among the things we’ve been celebrating lately at PW is this past weekend’s announcement that our own nonfiction reviews editor Parul Sehgal won the prestigious Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle, an honor she shares with such esteemed critics as Joan Acocella, Daniel Mendelsohn and Ron Charles. Around here, we couldn’t be prouder.
NBCC board member (and former Balakian winner) Scott McLemee interviewed Parul for Inside Higher Edto find out more about her and hear her thoughts on criticism. We wanted to point you toward that interview and give you a little sample. Here’s Parul on what she’s trying to do when reviewing a book:
I try very hard to be fair to the author, honest with the reader, and to create something sturdy and beautiful in its own right. More presumptuously, I suppose I’m trying, in Baudelaire’s words, “to transform my pleasure into knowledge.”
[Full disclosure: I am on the board of the NBCC, but we have strict conflict-of-interest rules prohibiting voting for friends and colleagues for these kinds of awards, so I recused myself from all discussion and voting in this award.]
Last night, the National Book Critics Circle (of which this blogger is a vice president) convened a panel at the Center for Fiction about the current state of the book review. Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal, Jennifer B. McDonald, Staff Editor, the New York Times Book Review; Robert Messenger, Books Editor, the Wall Street Journal; me representing Publishers Weekly; and moderator Jane Ciabattari, President, National Book Critics Circle talked for an hour and bit about each of our publications and where we thought book reviewing is and is going. The whole event is available as a podcast on the NBCC blog, so check it out.
If the Joker blows up half of downtown Gotham, who’s liable for the damage (assuming, of course, that Joker isn’t going to say he’s sorry and pay up)? Does the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to superheroes? These are other questions are answered in a blog called Law and the Multiverse, which is also the subject of a story in today’s New York Times.
Here’s a little sample from the blog:
[W]hen Doomsday goes on a rampage of destruction across at least three states or the Joker blows up half of downtown Gotham, insurer’s aren’t actually going to want to pay for that, and there is reason to believe that under the terms of standard insurance contracts, they wouldn’t have to. The reason has to do with the way insurance policies are written, which is a matter of contract as much at it is a matter of law.
The blog, which is the brainchild of two lawyers, quite earnestly considers the constitutional and legal take on various aspects of being a comic book superhero. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would really be like to be a superhero (or villain), reading this blog would be a heck of a lot cheaper than dragging a crate of comics to a lawyer’s office and racking up the billable hours.
Rain Taxi is one of the best independent book review out there. In separate print and online editions, the Twin Cities-based review covers small press, indie and university press books, in addition to books from trade publishers. But, of course, it’s a nonprofit, so it needs your help! Right now, Rain Taxi is running a fundraising auction through ebay, where you can bid on signed first editions, broadsides, and other cool, rare stuff from authors like Paul Auster, Alexander McCall Smith, Susan Howe, Gordon Lish and many others. Check it out…maybe you’ll find something you just have to have, and you’ll be supporting a great publication at the same time!