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Book News: Argentine Poet Juan Gelman Dies At 83

Argentine poet Juan Gelman is pictured at a news conference in March 2012.
Pablo Porciuncula
AFP/Getty Images
Argentine poet Juan Gelman is pictured at a news conference in March 2012.

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
    grief never.
    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.

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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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