The 2013 Nobel Laureate is…

Alice Munro! I picked up a book of short stories yesterday and I’ll write about her when I get to her!



Don’t worry, I actually did finish reading everything. About a month and a half ago, to be honest. It’s just that I’m in a grad school class that is kicking my butt, and I’ve been running around and getting stuff ready to start teaching high school in the fall. So, yeah. I did this. I’ll write about it on the internet later.


John Steinbeck

THE LAUREATE: John Steinbeck was born in California in 1902 to a dirt-poor family in dirt-poor farm country in California, which informed the majority of his work. He wrote a large number of books, including the staggeringly important and amazing Grapes of Wrath and died in 1968.

MY EXPERIENCE: I loved Grapes of Wrath when I read it in high school and I loved Of Mice and Men when I read it in college. I tried reading Cannery Row and felt too sick to get past the second or third page. We’ll see how this goes.

WHAT I’M READING: The Moon is Down Continue reading

Eugene O’Neill

THE LAUREATE: Eugene O’Neill was born in a hotel room on Broadway in 1888 (there’s a Starbucks there now). He went to a Catholic boarding school and then spent a year at Princeton. He joined the merchant marine and then the IWW and caught tuberculosis. He was part of the Greenwich Village scene and a lifelong radical.

WHAT I’M READING: “The Hairy Ape” Continue reading

Isaac Bashevis Singer

THE LAUREATE: I.B. Singer was born in a village near Warsaw in 1902 to a rabbi and a rabbi’s daughter. His brother and sister were also writers, who introduced him to the Yiddish literary world of Warsaw. His family left Poland for the United States in 1935, fleeing the increasingly anti-Semitic culture around them. Settling in New York, Singer continued to publish widely in Yiddish, and frequently translated his own works into English.

WHAT I’M READING: Satan in Goray, Singer’s first published work. Continue reading

Saul Bellow

THE LAUREATE: Saul Bellow was actually born in Quebec from parents who had emigrated from St. Petersburg, Russia. The family moved to Chicago when Bellow was 9. He read and wrote from an early age, and studied anthropology and sociology. He moved around, teaching at various universities and marrying and divorcing frequently. At his death in 2005, he was lamented as one of the greatest American novelists.

WHAT I’M READING: Henderson the Rain King Continue reading

Pearl S. Buck

THE LAUREATE: Pearl Sidenstryker was born in West Virginia in 1892 to Presbyterian ministers, who immediately returned to China after she was born. Her father weathered the Boxer Rebellion among the people. Pearl returned to the US to attend Randolf-Macon, and then went back to China where she almost immediately married a land developer. She stayed in China until 1934, when she was forced into retiring as a missionary because she said the Chinese don’t need a centralized, organized religion dominated by missionaries who didn’t care about the Chinese people or their culture. What nerve! She began her prolific writing career after she returned to the US for good. She also started an adoption agency for Asian and mixed-race children that has helped place hundreds of thousands of children and spread to eight countries. She died in 1973.

WHAT I’M READING: The only book by her that anyone has ever heard of, The Good Earth

Continue reading