4th Estate releases beautiful contemporary editions of Ballard’s novels and short stories

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4th Estate have collaborated with the artist Stanley Donwood, known for his work with the rock group Radiohead, to produce a series of luminous, beautiful, surreal, and contemporary designs for 21 of J.G. Ballard’s works. Donwood is known for the way he playfully manipulates the signs and symbols of modern life, in colour and collage, and his signature style is ideally suited to Ballard’s aesthetic. The new editions, which come complete with a series of illuminating introductions, will welcome a whole new generation of readers to Ballard’s fantastical and prophetic worlds. Extremely impressive.

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Two photographers take a look around the iconic literary journal
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Photograph: Paul Barbera

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Brooks Barnes (The New York Times) reports that the British writer is to work with French filmmaker Claire Denis
Zadie Smith. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images.
Zadie Smith. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images.

Amid the superheroes, dinosaurs, cyborg assassins and male strippers of the summer movie season comes a drop of sustenance for the cinematic intelligentsia: the French director Claire Denis will make her first English-language film, and she is collaborating on its screenplay with the British novelist Zadie Smith.

Ms. Denis, perhaps best known for “Beau Travail,” a 1999 drama based loosely on a Herman Melville story, does not yet have a title for her new project. But the film will be set in space, according to Screen International, and Ms. Smith, the author of the acclaimed novel “White Teeth,” will help write the screenplay – her first such effort. [Read More]

An extract from James Wood’s 2011 review of Open City for the New Yorker
Teju Cole, Open City
Teju Cole, Open City
Publishers now pitch their books like Hollywood concepts, so Teju Cole’s first novel, “Open City” (Random House; $25), is being offered as especially appealing to “readers of Joseph O’Neill and Zadie Smith,” and written in a prose that “will remind you” of W. G. Sebald and J. M. Coetzee. This is shorthand for “post-colonialism in New York” (O’Neill), “lively multiracial themes” (Smith), “free-flowing form with no plot, narrated by a scholarly solitary walker” (Sebald), “obviously serious” (Coetzee), and “finely written” (all of the above). There is the additional comedy that Cole’s publishers, determined to retain the baby with the bathwater, boldly conjoin Smith and O’Neill, despite Smith’s hostility, advertised in an essay entitled “Two Paths for the Novel,” to O’Neill’s expensive and upholstered “lyrical realism.”

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