September 15 – Agatha Christie

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (born September 15, 1890) U.K. author of detective fiction – The Hollow (1946)

Read about Agatha Christie here and here

Watch a documentary about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance
in December 1926

Watch a documentary about Christie’s writing

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September 6 – Robert Pirsig

Happy Birthday Robert Pirsig!

Robert Pirsig

Robert Maynard Pirsig – born September 6, 1928 – philosopher, novelist (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974)

Read the Wikipedia article about Robert Pirsig

Read a 2006 Guardian article about Robert Pirsig:

Twenty-six years, and several revisionist readings of the book [Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance] later, I’m still wondering what Pirsig thinks of when he thinks of himself. He suggests a lot of that idea still goes back to his childhood as a disaffected prodigy. He says that ever since he could think he had an overwhelming desire to have a theory that explained everything. As a young man – he was at university at 15 studying chemistry – he thought the answer might lie in science, but he quickly lost that faith. ‘Science could not teach me how to understand girls sitting in my class, even.’

He went to search elsewhere. After the army he majored in philosophy and persuaded his tutor to help him get a place on a course in Indian mysticism at Benares, where he found more questions than answers. He wound up back home, married, drifting between Mexico and the States, writing technical manuals and ads for the mortuary cosmetics industry. It was when he picked up philosophy again in Montana, and started teaching, that Phaedrus and his desire for truth overtook Pirsig once more.

At that time, he recalls, in his early thirties, he was so full of anxiety that he would often be physically sick before each class he taught.

Read about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in this New York Times obituary

Part road-trip novel, part treatise, part open letter to a younger generation, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” unfolds as a fictionalized account of a cross-country motorcycle trip that Mr. Pirsig took in 1968 with his 11-year-old son, Christopher, and two friends.
The narrative alternates between travelogue-like accounts of their 17 days on the road, from the Pirsigs’ home in Minnesota to the Pacific Coast, and long interior monologues that he calls his “Chautauquas,” after the open-air educational meetings at Lake Chautauqua, N.Y., popular with self-improvers since the 19th century.
Mr. Pirsig’s narrator (his barely disguised stand-in) focuses on what he sees as two profound schisms. The first lay in the 1960s culture war, in which the “hippies” rejected industrialization and the technological values that had been embraced by the “straight” mainstream society.
The second schism is in the narrator’s own mind, as he struggles in his hyperrational way to understand his recent mental breakdown. Mr. Pirsig, who was told he had schizophrenia in the early 1960s, said that writing the book was partly an effort to make peace with himself after two years of hospital treatments, including electric shock therapy, and the turmoil that he, his wife and children suffered as a result.
Describing both breakdowns, cultural and personal, Mr. Pirsig s narrator invokes the Civil War: “Two worlds growingly alienated and hateful toward each other, with everyone wondering if it will always be this way, a house divided against itself.”
He adds: “What I’m trying to do here is put it all together. It’s so big. That’s why I seem to wander sometimes.”

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September LitBirthdays


September 1

Nelson George

James Reaney

Eleanor Hibbert (aka Victoria Holt

Lily Tomlin

September 2

Tim Key

Tom Glazer

William C. Rhoden

Tetsuo Hara
原 哲夫

September 3

Eduardo Galeano

Naomi Lewis

Mahjoor (Ghulam Ahmad)

Mort Walker

Spike Feresten

September 4

Joan Aiken

Antonin Artaud

Damon Kyle Wayans

Richard Wright

September 5

Bob Newhart

Werner Herzog

Robert Fergusson

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara)

September 6

Sergio Aragonés

Edward Einhorn

Christopher Brookmyre

Robyn Davidson

September 7

Elia Kazan

(Janet) Taylor Caldwell

Houshang Moradi Kermani

September 8

Boris Ryzhy

Michael Frayn

Kimberly Peirce

Jack Prelutsky

September 9

Aleksandar Hemon

Leo Tolstoy

Sonia Sanchez

September 10

Shlomo Sand

Franz Werfel

Charles Kuralt

Andrei Makine

September 11

Katri Vala

D(avid) H(erbert) Lawrence

Tony Gilroy

September 12

Kristin Hunter Lattany

Louis Macneice

Stanislav Lem

September 13

Bill Monroe

Roald Dahl

Tom Holt

Tavis Smiley

September 14

Ivan Klima

Hans Faverey

Ekiwah Adler Beléndez

Ayo (Joy Alasunmibo Ogunmakin)

September 15

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

Agatha Christie

Dan Lungu

Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich (Elizabeth Charlotte Welskopf)

Marie Arana

September 16

Prasoon Joshi

Clive Bell

Molly Shannon

Paul Henning

September 17

Igor Štiks

Hank Williams,

Ken Kesey

Hope Larson

Francis Chichester

September 18

Samuel Johnson

Christopher Lynn Hedges

Agnes de Mille

September 19

Oksana Zabuzhko

Maud Sulter

Damon Knight

September 20

Kazumasa Oda
(小田和正 / Oda Kazumasa)

Judith Thompson

Upton Sinclair

Charlie Kaufman (Charles Stewart Kaufman)

Slappy White (Melvin White)

September 21

Ethan Coen

Chuck Jones

Frédéric Beigbeder

Stephen King

Leonard Cohen

H.G. Wells

Édouard Glissant

September 22

Rene O. Villanueva

Ashokamitran (Jagadisa Thyagarajan)

György Faludy

Manzoor Ahmad

Svilen Noev

September 23

Joshua Foer


Ana Marie Cox

Pauline Réage (Anne Desclos)

Ani DiFranco

September 24

Eavan Boland

Brinck (Niels Brinck Kristensen)

Nia Vardalos

F. Scott Fitzgerald

September 25

Ian Tyson

William Faulkner

Shel Silverstein

Lu Xun

Andrzej Stasiuk

September 26

Raoul Cauvin

Jane Smiley

T.S. Eliot

Zhang Tianyi

September 27

Romano Scarpa

Josef Škvorecký

Grazia Deledda

September 28

Confucius / 孔子 / Kǒng Zǐ

Pierre Ryckmans (Simon Leys)

Prosper Mérimée

Rosario Ferré

September 29

Gábor Csupó

Steve Tesich

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

September 30

Francesco Tullio Altan

Laura Esquivel

Elie Wiesel

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

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LitBirthdays Ali Smith

Happy Birthday Ali Smith!

Ali Smith

Ali Smith (born August 24 1962) – Scottish fiction and nonfiction author – Winter (2017)

Read about Ali Smith here and here

Smith grew up in Inverness, the youngest, by some years, of five children, and had what she describes as “an ideal childhood”. Her parents had both left school prematurely, thrust into the world of work by the death of their parents and a shortage of money.

Her father founded a small contracting business, wiring up the houses that lined Loch Ness, including that of the writer of Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell (“He’s a bit funny, you know,” he told his daughter). Deprived of education themselves, they determinedly steered their children towards university, with the professions firmly in mind; Smith was to be a lawyer. “I knew I’d be terrible. I couldn’t argue to save myself, never mind save anybody else, and I knew there was something else I wanted to do.” She wanted to study English; her parents didn’t want her to. But there was never a row: “In a family of five, you learn to sit still as a stone sometimes, and just hold your position … there was a pressure and I exerted a similar pressure back, and at some point it was all right.”

(From the Guardian, September 6, 2014)

Ali Smith speaks at a 2012 conference on the task of writing a novel

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LitBirthdays Kamila Shamsie

Happy Birthday Kamila Shamsie!

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie (born August 13, 1973) – Pakistani novelist – Home Fire (2017)

Read about Kamila Shamsie here and here
“…it wasn’t until Shamsie moved to America as a student that she began to write about Karachi. ‘That came out of homesickness,’ she says. ‘It was a way of recreating the world on the page.'”

Shamsie gives a talk on Karachi culture:

“Urdu poetry… has always been very much more democratic in a way that it doesn’t even rely on literacy. Where there’s music, there’s poetry.”
[Reading from one of her books at minute 47:40]


Read about Shamsie’s nomination for the 2017 Man Booker Prize here

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August LitBirthdays


August 1

Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour)

Francis Scott Key

Herman Melville

August 2

Isabel Allende

James Baldwin

Homer Banks

Bei Dao (Zhao Zhenkai)

August 3

Lauren Liebenberg

Leon Uris

August 4

Robert Hayden

Helen Thomas

Barack Obama

August 5

Guy de Maupassant

Abbé Pierre (Henri Marie Joseph Grouès)

August 6

Louella Parsons

Alfred Tennyson

M. Night Shyamalan

August 7

Justin Kawika Young

Sofia Rotaru

Garrison Keillor

August 8

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Mel Tillis

August 9

Izaak Walton

Jean Piaget

August 10

Abay Ibrahim Qunanbayuli

August 11

Jim Lee

Alex Haley

August 12

George Soros

Sue Monk Kidd

August 13

Amélie Nothomb

Dan Fogelberg

August 14

Bryce Courtenay

Steve Martin

Danielle Steel

Gary Larson

August 15

Julia Child

Sri Aurobindo

Mikao Usui

August 16

Charles Bukowski

Diana Wynne Jones

August 17

Herta Müller

Gene (Geneva) Stratton-Porter

August 18


Elsa Morante

Brian Aldiss

August 19

Eamonn Fingleton

Ogden Nash

Jerzy Andrzejewski

August 20

Isaac Hayes

Musa Geshaev

H. P.(Howard Phillips) Lovecraft

August 21

Jules Michelet

Friz Freleng

August 22

Irmtraud Morgner

August 23

Ephraim Kishon

Nazik al-Mala’ika

August 24

Jorge Luis Borges

Stephen Fry

August 25

Charles Wright

August 26

Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu)

August 27

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

August 28

Tasha Tudor

Ai Weiwei

August 29

Dorothy Tennov

René Depestre

August 30

Camilla Läckberg Eriksson

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

August 31

DuBose Heyward

William Saroyan

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July 11 – Amitav Ghosh

Happy Birthday Amitav Ghosh!

Amitav Ghosh – born July 11, 1956 – Indian novelist – The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016)

Read the Wikipedia article about Amitav Ghosh

Watch an interview of Amitav Ghosh

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