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Book News: Maya Angelou Out Of Hospital, Recovering At Home

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • One of Maya Angelou's doctors said she is recovering at home in North Carolina after being hospitalized, according to The Associated Press. Angelou, a writer and poet best known for her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is 85. Angelou spoke to NPR's Rachel Martin last month about her relationship with her mother, her time working as a streetcar conductor and why she loves to make cream puffs.
  • Wikipedia appears to be gradually relegating a number of female novelists from the "American Novelists" category to the "American Women Novelists" subcategory. In The New York Times, Amanda Filipacchi writes, "If you look back in the 'history' of these women's pages, you can see that they used to appear in the category 'American Novelists,' but that they were recently bumped down. Male novelists on Wikipedia, however — no matter how small or obscure they are — all get to be in the category 'American Novelists.' " She notes that among the novelists moved are Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ayn Rand and Judy Blume.
  • Namara Smith writes about Bring Up The Bodies author Hilary Mantel in an essay for n+1 magazine: "Although the language is not archaic, it is often luxurious: someone's glance 'slides...like silk upon a stone'; hawks fall from the sky 'gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze.' "
  • John Freeman, editor in chief of Granta, is leaving the literary magazine in July. Asked what he would do next, he responded in an email: "Teaching and writing ... I've had books stacking up in my head or on the paper that I've been meaning to write and am excited to have the time now to finally do it, much as I will miss the magazine." He was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition recently about Granta's Best of Young British Novelists issue.
  • According to a recent profile of novelist Claire Messud in New York Magazine, Christopher Hitchens once asked her, "Would it kill you to write something people actually want to read?"
  • Novelist (also, dachshund enthusiast and compulsive book-blurber) Gary Shteyngart is coming out with a memoir titled Little Failure in 2014, Random House announced Wednesday. Shteyngart said in a statement, "I've finally written a book that isn't a ribald satire and because it's actually based on my life, contains almost no sex whatsoever."
  • Jennifer Szalai challenges the literary world's disdain for Oprah's Book Club in a thoughtful New Yorker essay. "For literary purists, everything that Winfrey brings — the sales bump, the best-seller status, anything having to do with the word "popular" — no doubt signifies trouble rather than salvation, further proof of the irreconcilable gulf between mass culture and genuine art," she writes. "This is not to say that such suspicions are necessarily unfounded, but don't they also treat art as some fragile, defenseless object, prone to contamination from simply having too many people experience it, people who might appreciate it (or not) in their own way?"
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