Aug. 20, 2017
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Read It: Nobel Causes

March 28, 2007, 12:00 am

It's kind of a big deal.

by Albert Camus
Vintage Books ($13.95)
In 1957, three years before his death, Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for literature. That same year he published The Exile and the Kingdom, a book of short stories that went fairly unnoticed. For the 50th anniversary of its publication, a new translation by Carol Cossman brings the tales out of the dust. Beginning with the subtly powerful "The Adulterous Woman"-where a wife's only crime is a night alone under the "icicle stars,"-these stories move beyond the basic existentialism of Camus' more famous works. The new edition also is spiced up with an introduction by Orhan Pamuk-the 2002 Nobel winner-whose understanding of Camus' work is that of both a fan and a scholar.

by Orhan Pamuk
Vintage Books ($14.95)
Though at heart a murder mystery, My Name is Red tosses itself into the stream of literature with an extravagant splash. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, including the paintings that hang in various rooms, the corpse of the murdered and, of course, the color red. The postmodern story delves into Islamic beliefs about the afterlife with startling clarity; one need not be a scholar to gain a unique insight into an often misunderstood tradition. Set in the antiquity of the Ottoman Empire, Red also offers a look at ancient Persian art, which often is disassociated from the part of the world from which it comes.

by Saul Bellow
Penguin Books ($15)
Moses E Herzog can't seem to commit to anything: jobs, women or even a location. The only stable thing he's got going for him is a long letter writing campaign. Unfortunately, these letters are sent to dead philosophers and are more an exercise in Herzog's madness than a helpful form of writing. Saul Bellow, who died two years ago this April, won the Nobel in 1976 after publishing nine books. He wouldn't publish again until 1982, making the writer's block of Herzog seem even more personal in retrospect.


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