Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature's Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. "I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world," she said. The winners are Andrew Winer's review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe's review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green's Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to take Kathryn Schulz’s book recommendations. However when she refers to something – in this case J.M. Ledgard’s Submergence – as “the best novel I’ve read so far this year,” you really ought to listen up. By the time she invokes Philip Gourevitch, Anne Carson, W. G. Sebald, and John Le Carré in her review of that book, you ought to be reaching for your wallet.
"Any reasonably skilled novelist can evoke on the page the texture of memory, drawing the reader into the half-remembered, the blurred edges, the nervous nostalgia, the meandering associations across time and geography. In contrast, flashbacks on screen tend always to be clumsy beasts, announcing their arrival with unwanted fanfare and knocked-over furniture. Why is this?" Kazuo Ishiguro on film, and other novelists' second-favorite art forms.
"One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t." Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.