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Meet the illustrator making art based on Haruki Murakami’s short stories.


January 21, 2021, 12:01pm

Ard Su’s colorful, stylized illustrations have accompanied fiction by Lorrie Moore in The New Yorker and interviews on NPR NextGen. But before she completed her MA in illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art, she studied Japanese, in the process of which she discovered her love for Haruki Murakami—and now, she counts the novelist as one of her primary artistic influences.

Su is particularly drawn to a prevailing theme in Murakami’s work, the alienation of contemporary life. As she explained to Creative Boom, “Technology, mass-production, and capitalism have reshaped our mind and body again and again. There are fundamental differences between music nowadays and before, same with entertainment, intimate relationships, the way people communicate etc. In my work, I want to capture this alienation.” But that’s not the only reason why she likes Murakami: “It is hard to explain why I like [Murakami’s stories and essays]. I just like them!”

Su uses images and symbols from Murakami’s stories to create her surreal landscapes—for instance, her piece “TV People,” titled after the Murakami story, visually distills the short story’s narrative. “[“TV People” shows that] technology and mass media are bridges that narrow the gap between people worldwide, but it is not such a case in intimate relationships. So, in one illustration, I created a world where the man is in the light of a TV, and far, far away is a woman in a magazine.”

You can view more of Su’s work on her website, but first check out some of her Murakami-inspired art below—and see if you can catch the allusions.


[via Creative Boom]

Amanda Gorman won the inauguration.

Jessie Gaynor

January 21, 2021, 9:44am

Between Bernie’s mittens, Ella Emhoff’s coat (and iconic Pence mocking), and the president of the United States no longer being a proudly monstrous coup-stoking white supremacist, there were some big wins at yesterday’s inauguration. Of course, as a literary website, we are honor-bound hand it to Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old inaugural poet (and the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate).

Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was appropriately hopeful for an inauguration, though it also spoke to the darkness not only of the last four years but also of the country’s history in full.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

The poem included echoes of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” (“we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one / we will rise from the golden hills of the West / we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution”) as well as two nods to Hamilton (see: this very cute Twitter exchange with Lin Manuel Miranda). You can (and should!) read it in full here.

In addition to the poem itself, Gorman’s stage presence was captivating. So naturally, the world rushed to Amazon (but hopefully also local indies!) to pre-order her two(!) forthcoming books—The Hill We Climb and Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, which are now the numbers one and two best-selling books on the whole site. That’s right: a poetry collection is the number-one best-selling book on Amazon.

Congratulations, Amanda Gorman! (And, of course, America.)

Ursula K. Le Guin stamps are coming to a post office near you.

Katie Yee

January 21, 2021, 9:30am

Remember that one week last year when we were all pushing to save the USPS? Well, here is another reason to support them: they’re putting beloved sci-fi writer Ursula K. Le Guin on a stamp!

Honestly, why is this not something all writers aspire to? Awards come and go. Cash prizes get spent. Names fall off the bestseller lists. But forever stamps are forever! It’s the 33rd one in their Literary Arts series, which has also featured Edith Wharton,  Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, Ayn Rand (???), Zora Neale Hurston, and James Baldwin.

The stamp, to be released later this year, will feature the writer’s portrait, surrounded by a scene from her iconic novel The Left Hand of Darkness—which we would absolutely recommend if you want to be enveloped (get it?) by a novel. You won’t be able to tare (sorry) yourself away.

It’s a fitting tribute for an author who always delivers! I mean, truly first-class.

The New Yorker Union is stopping all work for twenty-four hours.

Emily Temple

January 21, 2021, 9:29am

Today, the New Yorker Union announced that its members will be “undertaking a twenty-four-hour work stoppage,” lasting between 6 A.M. this morning (Thursday, January 21), through 6 A.M. tomorrow. During this time, the official statement reads, “union members will not participate in the production or the promotion of material for the print magazine or the Web site. We are withholding our labor to demand fair wages and a transparent, equitable salary structure, and to protest management’s unacceptable response to our wage proposal and their ongoing failure to bargain in good faith.”

New Yorker staff members declared their intent to unionize in 2018, and the union has had some recent, well-publicized success in their negotiations with management. In September, during a contract dispute, the union planned to picket the New Yorker Festival; in response, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren pulled out of the event. Management quickly capitulated, ending at-will employment at the magazine.

Today’s work stoppage is in response to management’s “egregious” wage proposal, presented during ongoing negotiations, which they say “showed disrespect for us and the work we do.” Here are the details from their statement:

In November, 2020—after two years of negotiating over many other important contract provisions—the New Yorker Union presented New Yorker and Condé Nast management with a wage proposal that was aspirational but not unrealistic, designed to remedy decades of underpayment and disparities across roles and departments. The proposal included a salary floor of $65,000, which would allow entry-level employees to support themselves in New York City, and a system of graduated annual increases, which would help compensation keep pace with the cost of living and prevent wage stagnation.

We presented this proposal fully ready to negotiate; we did not expect management to automatically agree to it. But the response they offered, on January 12th, was egregious: it included a salary floor of $45,000—only $3,000 more than the lowest current full-time salaries—and an entirely discretionary “merit”-based increase system that would not guarantee any annual salary adjustments. Management also proposed retaining the right to decrease any union member’s salary by up to twenty per cent at any time.

“We are committed to The New Yorker,” the statement says, “which is why many of us have worked here years—even decades—despite low and stagnant wages. However much we may love our jobs, that love is not enough to live on.” Can’t argue with that.

Update: after this story was published, a New Yorker spokesperson reached out to Literary Hub with this comment:

We’ve had just two bargaining sessions related to economics: the union delivered a wage proposal at the end of 2020 and, in our first bargaining session of 2021, the company delivered a counter proposal. These were, on both sides, initial offers. It is our hope that, as opposed to resorting to actions like this one, the union will bargain in good faith and return a counter proposal, as is standard in negotiations. That way, we can work together productively to reach a final contract as quickly as possible.

In regards to the pay study that was released along with the union’s statement, the same spokesperson said: “We are devoted to fair pay all around. We dispute certain conclusions of this study, and we are determined to get to an equitable agreement.”

The Hungarian government has ordered a publisher to put a disclaimer on inclusive children’s books.

Dan Sheehan

January 20, 2021, 3:52pm

Loathe as I am to be the bearer of dispiriting news on this hopeful day, here’s a dispatch from Hungary that manages to be both petty and terrifying at the same time.

It seems that authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s staunchly right-wing government—which has made discrimination against the LGBTQ community a central tenant of its agenda for years now—has ordered a publisher to print disclaimers on books deemed to be showcasing “behavior inconsistent with traditional gender roles.”

As reported earlier this afternoon in the Guardian:

The government said the action was needed to protect consumers, after Labrisz, an association for lesbian, bisexual and trans women, published a fairytale anthology titled Wonderland Is for Everyone, which included some stories with LGBT themes.

The book, whose authors say it is intended to teach children to be respectful of people of all backgrounds, features a tale of a doe who is granted a wish to become a buck, and a poem about a prince who marries another prince. Other stories depict minorities in a positive light, including Roma and disabled people. The character Snow White, renamed Leaf Brown, has dark skin.

When asked about the sweet children’s book this past October, Orbán himself called Wonderland Is for Everyone “homosexual propaganda” before adding that homosexuals should “leave our children alone.”

This vindictive act against an already marginalized community is just the latest in a series of extremely worrying moves made by Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party over the last year. In May, Hungary voted to end legal recognition of trans people, while in November, the government amended the constitution to declare that in a family “the father is a man and the mother is a woman,” meaning that gay and trans couples could no longer adopt children.


[via Guardian]

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