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Book News: Mexican Poet Jose Emilio Pacheco Dies At 74

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

  • Mexican poet, translator and essayist Jose Emilio Pacheco died on Sunday at age 74, Mexico's National Council for Culture and Arts announced. Pacheco won the 2009 Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award. Jose Antonio Pascual Rodriguez, one of the judges, said at the time, "He's an exceptional poet of daily life, with a depth, a freedom of thought, an ability to create his own world, an ironic distance from reality when it's necessary, and a linguistic use that is impeccable." When Pacheco went to receive the award from Spanish King Juan Carlos I, his pants took an unexpected plunge. He reportedly took it in stride, calling it a "cure for vanity."
  • Publisher Yiu Mantin was arrested in China several months ago and accused of smuggling chemicals. But Yiu's son told The New York Timesthat he believes his father was arrested for publishing a book critical of President Xi Jinping. Edmond Yiu said, "I'm pretty familiar with the Chinese legal system in China and how they produce fake criminal charges against political prisoners. There is no question that they are trying to punish him for his publishing activities through normal criminal charges."
  • Bookslut has launched a literary prize called "The Daphnes," which celebrates the best book published 50 years ago. Editor Jessa Crispin explains in a blog post, "If you look back at the books that won the Pulitzer or the National Book Award, it is always the wrong book. Book awards, for the most part, celebrate mediocrity. It takes decades for the reader to catch up to a genius book, it takes years away from hype, publicity teams, and favoritism to see that some books just aren't that good. Which is why we are starting a new book award, the Daphnes, that will celebrate the best books of 50 years ago. We will right the wrongs of the 1964 National Book Awards, which ugh, decided that John Updike's The Centaur was totally the best book of that year."
  • The New York Times'Rachel L. Swarns profiles English literature adjunct professor James D. Hoff: "At night, he sometimes lies sleepless in the dark, wondering how long he will be able to afford the academic life. He is not a professor. He is an adjunct lecturer, holding an increasingly common and precarious position that offers him no job security, no health benefits and no assured pathway to full-time university employment."
  • For The New York Review of Books,Christopher Benfey asks, "Was Emily Dickinson a radical poet of the avant-garde, challenging the regularized notions of predominantly male poets and editors regarding stanza shape, typographical publication and distribution, spelling and punctuation, visual and verbal presentation, erotic love, and so on? Or was she a poet of restraint, who restricted herself to a few traditional patterns of meter and stanza, referred to the wayward Whitman as 'disgraceful,' and wore her prim white dress as a sign of those renunciations best expressed in that wildest word 'No'?"
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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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