Writing Roundup

January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017

Over the past couple of weeks School of the Arts alumni and faculty have been receiving recognition for books they published this year by outlets ranging from NPR to the New York Times Book Review. Read more in our biweekly roundup of work by and news about Columbia writers.


Susan Bernofsky, faculty

Memoirs of a Polar Bear, a novel by Yoko Tawada that was translated from German by Susan Bernofsky, an assistant professor and the director of Literary Translation at Columbia, was named one of the top five translated books of 2016 by NPR.  The NPR website says the stories in the book “are imbued with art and politics, philosophy and a sense of longing. Yet for all the wonderful workings of plot and structure in Memoirs of a Polar Bear, what is truly affecting is Tawada's writing, which jumps off the page and practically sings.”


Emma Cline ’13

Writing Program alumna Emma Cline’s debut novel The Girls was named one of the top books of 2016 by the Financial Times, in one of several year-end notations the book has received in recent weeks. FT describes the book as “compulsively readable” and calls it a “vivid examination of adolescence in 1960s America.”


Writing Program faculty member Paul Beatty also appeared on the Financial Times’s list of the best books of the year with his novel The Sellout, which also received the Man Booker Prize in October.


Meghan Daum '96, adjunct faculty

Writing Program alumna and adjunct faculty member Meghan Daum recently spoke with Indiana’s NUVO website about her essay collection The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion and My Misspent Youth. “I’m interested in looking at nuance and the gray areas, something that is harder and harder to do in this media climate,” she tells the website. “I think that’s a writer’s job to say these things. I think that’s crucial to remember that to get published and have a platform is a great privilege.”


Idra Novey '07

Writing program alumna Idra Novey’s debut novel Ways to Disappear, about a translator on a caper in Rio de Janeiro, was named one of the most overlooked books of the year by the website Literary Hub. “What about the translator?” the site writes. “That oft-overlooked and underpaid individual who works so hard to give us something special. Novey asks this question and answers with a book that is both fun and also a reflection on what will we do for the authors and books that we love.”


Novey is also among a handful of authors who wrote about their New Year’s resolutions for Literary Hub. “It is painful to pay continual attention to the sinister chorus in the shadows,” Novey says, referring to the proliferation of “fake news” during and after the Presidential election. “But if there is ever a time when it is crucial not to underestimate that sinister chorus, it is now.”


Brenda Shaughnessy '98

Writing Program alumna Brenda Shaughnessy’s fourth poetry collection, So Much Synth, was named one of the best poetry books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. The Times calls the book, which looks back on Shaughnessy’s adolescence, a “mix (tape?) of sprawling work that engages sympathetically with the uncertainties—sexual, social—of being a teenager.”