an American literary award exists which is often compared to the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Marcos Hernandez Between the Covers Podcast, Dubravka Ugrešić

The Neustadt International Prize for Literature, sometimes referred to as the American Nobel, is awarded every other year by the University of Oklahoma’s World Literature Today. Like the Nobel, the award is based on an authors entire body of work. The award was founded in 1969 and it’s recipients include Gabo, Octavio Paz (both of which are Spanish-speaking Nobel Laureates), and Dubravka Ugrešić (it was through an interview of her that I found out this prize even existed).

Poets, novelists, and playwrights and all eligible for the prize BUT the prize isn’t open for application.

a nine-tailed fox appears in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore?

Marcos Hernandez Between the Covers Podcast, Dubravka Ugrešić

Tales of the mythical fox spirit originated in China and spread to Japan and Korea. They are known for their ability to shapeshift, most often taking the form of beautiful young women. Their main mischief is to seduce men and in some stories would consume their bodies or spirits.

Modern adaptations include the Pokemon Ninetails and a character in the video game League of Legends who has the ability to consume souls and steal memories.

the Syrian Army carried out a massacre in 1982?

Marcos Hernandez Between the Covers Podcast, Molly Crabapple

The Hama massacre marked the end of the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising, a movement which began in 1976. Thousands of people in the town of Hama were murdered after the Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad decided to put and end to hostilities once and for all.

On the Between the Covers podcast Molly Crabapple describes a conversation she had with Marwan Hisham, the co-author of a new book Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War. Hisham live-tweeted his experiences from Raqqa, Syria during the US’s first air strikes, breaking the news thirty minutes before the the Pentagon’s announcement of the action. When asked why he performed these courageous acts under great personal danger to himself he said he didn’t want a repeat of the 1982 massacre. To him, this event was a major milestone worthy of remembrance. Crabapple informs him that most people outside of Syria haven’t even heard of the event. It’s crazy to think that the reason behind Hisham’s journalistic efforts, to prevent atrocities of the past, is unknown to a large part of the world.

war photojournalism has roots in 19th century Spain?

Marcos Hernandez Between the Covers Podcast, Molly Crabapple

Francisco Goya created a series of plates known as The Disasters of War between 1810 and 1820. The etchings, done on copper plates, depict the horrors of war: the violence of individual conflict, the punishment/murder of civilians, and the atrocitites committed agaisnt women. Goya sketched his drafts at the battle sites and later made the plates in his studio. The fact that these images were made permanent on metal plates testifies to how important it he felt it was to preserve the memories of war.

Molly Crabapple, on the Between the Covers Podcast, talks about the impression seeing these plates made on her. When the interiew took place she had just completed her co-written book Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War. Together with the host, she talks about the merits of being able to draw in the age of photography. Cameras can be banned but an artist can depict the scene during (and after) the fact with just a piece of paper and a pencil. Crabapple brings up a good point when talking about her experiences covering the war in Syria: drawing is a universal skill and the sketchpad is one way to break down the barriers between cultures.

out of all documented languages only one believes the past lies ahead of them?

Marcos Hernandez Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi, Between the Covers Podcast, Quote

The Aymara people of Bolivia are unique in their belief about the spatial conceptualization of time. In their language, the word for front is understood to mean the past and the word for back is a understood to mean the future. Even their gestures indicate this belief, with speakers of the language gesturing further ahead of their body when talking about points further in the past. It makes sense if you think about it since everyone can see what lies ahead of them and they can also look back at history while they can’t see behind them and also can’t see the future.

Reminds me of the quote from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and popularized by the psychologist Carl Jung regarding synchronicity: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

there exists a poem that can be read 7,940 ways?

Marcos Hernandez Between the Covers Podcast, Jen Bervin

Su Hui (Fourth Century China) wove the first example of a palindrome poem. At a time when females weren’t respected for their intelletual abilities, this woman created a poem that can be read horizontally, vertically, side-to-side, backwards, diagonally, and within color-coded grids. Not only did she write it, she took the time to weave it into fabric. Unfortunately the orginal didn’t survive but even reproductions have proved too difficult to translate into the English language.

Ready to receive a free book a month before it’s published?

Yes. Sign me up!