Today in books: a Nobel hoax, Marukami's translator speaks, and Herman Cain's whistlestop Barnes & Noble tour is paying dividends

  • As The Atlantic Wire's tout service predicted yesterday, Bob Dylan wasn't awarded the Nobel Prize for Literaure this morning. Serbian author Dobrica Cosic also didn't win, but for a few minutes at least it looked like he might have. Minutes before the actual announcement, The Guardian posted a pointer to a story on www.nobelprizeliterature.org naming Kosic, an historical novelist who spent eight months as acting president of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s before the country was dissolved, the winner. Guardian blogger Sarah Crown, for one, seem to buy it. "It looks as if the Nobel website has gazumped itself!" she exclaimed. What looked like gazumption was actually just a well-planned hoax. The real Nobel site is located at www.nobelprize.org, and the fake site copied their design template, so it briefly passed the eye test when it went live. Things got even more confusing when news outlets began receiving emails from the "Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences" crowing about Crosic's win. Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer was announced as the real winner soon after, and the dummy site was updated with a message in Serbian explaining the hoax was undertaken by a "non-profit, self-organized group of web activists" to protest the fact the 90-year-old Cosic was "proclaimed by a some to be a serious contender" for the award, despite his ties to "[the]most dangerous Serbian pseudo-democratic circles in the new era." That's a reference to Slobodan Milosevic, who helped Cosic rise to the presidency in 1992, then got him impeached and removed a year later. Despite this, The New York Times wrote in 1999 during the Kosovo War that "some [Serbian] dissident intellectuals...resent [Cosic] for setting the nationalist stage for Milosevic, by reviving the importance of Kosovo and making it new for this generation of Serbs." The hoax was well-executed and Serbian newspapers and TV stations reported it as fact, though we're not sure anyone considered Cosic a "serious contender" for the award. [The Telegraph and Jacket Copy
  • Farrar, Strauss and Giroux has announced the next Jonathan Franzen book will not be a long family saga, but rather an essay collection. Farther Away: Essays, due out next May, will have two previously unpublished essays:  the straightforwardly titled "On Autobiographical Fiction" and "Comma-Then," which could be about anything. [AP]
  • Former Harvard professor Jay Rubin did the English translation of Haruki Murakami's sprawling novel 1Q84, and he loves everything about the author's work -- except for the new book's title. "I don't think it's such a great title," he tells CNN Go. "I think it's a pretty feeble pun, this whole thing, this Q." Feeble! (The pun, for what it's worth, is on George Orwell's 1984, since '9' and 'Q' look somewhat similar. And we'll admit, It took us a good five minutes to pick up on that.) [CNN Go]
  • Herman Cain is surging in the Republican presidential primary, but he still seems more interested in moving copies of his autobiography This Is Herman Cain! than landing political body blows. He's blowing off visits to diners in places like Iowa and New Hampshire this week to hold book signings at Barnes & Noble stores in Texas and Washington, D.C. The last email he sent to supporters before his upset win the Florida straw poll didn't include a pep talk or a last minute briefing on where he stands on the issues. Instead, he offered supporters "a chance to buy a collector’s edition box set of the book, complete with a red case and gold trim." The special edition, he explained, wouldn't just be a book if given to a friend, but "a gift to open again and again." If selling books is Cain's goal, he's doing well. The book is ranked ninth on Amazon's bestseller list. [National Journal]