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The New Criterion

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Fiction Chronicle

May 2013

Fifty million fables

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho, Fight Song by Joshua Mohr, The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, and The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.

In 1981, the Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar published a novella, Max and the Cats, about a young man stuck in a lifeboat with a panther. In 2002, the Canadian writer Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize for his bestselling Life of Pi, about a young man stuck in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Martel didn’t have to worry that his appropriation would be discovered. He preemptively tattled on himself, thanking Scliar “for the spark of life” in an author’s note and confessing, in an interview with the Guardian, “I remember thinking, man, that’s a brilliant premise” upon reading a review of Scliar’s book.

When Dr. Scliar, literary Brazil, and The New York Times finally took notice, punishment was swift and severe. No, not really. Scliar, though baffled by Martel, declined to pursue legal action. Martel persevered in his delusional be ...

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Stefan Beck is a writer living in Hudson, New York. He has contributed on fiction and other subjects to The Wall Street Jounral, The New York Sun, and elsewhere.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 May 2013, on page 34

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion |

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Facing the music

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Reviews of Play Pretty Blues by Snowden Wright, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne, The Guts by Roddy Doyle, and Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker.

Go walkabout

by Stefan Beck

Coverage of Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis, A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, The Lower River by Paul Theroux, and Voss by Patrick White.

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