This year's genii: It's book award season, but the biggest prize for authors might be a Macarthur Fellowship, the fabled "genius grant," which carries with it a five-year stipend totalling $500,000. The most obviously literary fellows on this year's list are Annette Gordon-Reed, author of the groundbreaking and award-sweeping history, The Hemingses of Monticello; Yiyun Li, whose debut novel, The Vagrants, was a Best of the Month pick for us last February and whose second story collection, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, just came out; and David Simon, creator of course of The Wire and Treme but also author of Homicide and The Corner (and husband of Ms. Lippman). But you can find the work of some of this year's other recipients in books as well, like type designer Matthew Carter (Typographically Speaking: The Art of Matthew Carter), anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy (her book on French colonial New Orleans, Building the Devil's Empire), sign language linguist Carol Padden (her coauthored Inside Deaf Culture), artist Jorge Pardo (Jorge Pardo), and even entomologist Marla Spivak (though her beekeeper's guide (at least that's what I think it's about), Successful Queen Rearing, is out of print).
Where's Shirley Hazzard?: The oddsmakers are starting to weigh in on that even bigger prize, the Nobel for Literature, which, in the usually murky way, will be awarded either October 7 or a week later. Ladbrokes tips Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer as the favorite at 5-1, and three more poets just behind him, Poland's Adam Zagajewski, South Korea's Ko Un, and Syria's Adonis, all longtime contenders. You can find Transtromer's poems collected in English in The Great Enigma, The Half-Finished Heaven, and Tomas Transtromer. I'll keep last year's mythical bets down on the table, on Ko Un at 8-1 and Alice Munro at 18-1, and take a flyer on Javier Marias at 40-1.
Thong!: Peanuts turns 60 this week, and among the media coverage you can watch Charles Schulz's widow Jean with Al Roker on Today this morning. Or you can enjoy this strip, from the excellent Molly Volley sequence, that my son read to me the other day, from the recent Complete Peanuts: 1977-1978 collection:
Moving and shaking: Jenny McCarthy visits Oprah (just two days before the big J.K. Rowling event!) and her new book, Love, Lust, and Faking It, zooms into our top 100 and onto today's Movers & Shakers list.