It’s a big week for fans of literary fiction, with new books by a pair of heavyweights: Generosity by Richard Powers and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. There’s also a new (and massive) collection of stories from Lydia Davis. Nick Horby’s newest, Juliet, Naked is out. Finally, Bukowski fans may be pleased to find a new book of never-before-collected poems, and R. Crumb fans have no doubt been waiting for his Book of Genesis to hit shelves.
Out this week: The Idiot by Elif Batuman; One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel; Before the War by Fay Weldon; Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor; and White Tears by Hari Kunzru. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
You’re probably up to your neck in World Cup coverage, but here are some gems well worth your attention no matter what: Teju Cole created a “Copa do Mundo do Brasil” playlist to set the mood; Pablo Torre’s one-sentence-long summation of Day One in São Paulo; an excerpt from Aleksandar Hemon’s The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer; The New Republic’s round-up of “eleven writers and intellectuals on the World Cup’s most compelling characters“; and, of course, Shaj Mathew’s recent Millions review of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil.
Recommended Reading: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo collected sixteen short stories from sixteen authors among Cuba’s “Generación Año Cero” (Generation Year Zero), which is a “movement of writers who began publishing in 2000.” The anthology, which is available for free online in both English and Spanish, features illustrations from Cuban artists El Sexto and Luis Trápaga.
Sick of feeling inadequate compared to your literary peers? Well, you might want to stop reading, then: turns out Adam Thirlwell published his first book when he was three. (The readers of Granta learn this not from Thirlwell, who seems a bit abashed, but instead from Year in Reading alumnus Jeffrey Eugenides.)
“I couldn’t tell if a poem I was writing would come to anything or not until the last line was there. That’s always been my method. I may have revised less than some other poets, but I think I write as much crap as anyone.” Kaveh Akbar interviews Sharon Olds about inspiration, contemporary poetry, and rejection letters for Divedapper. Pair with this Millions piece, featuring seven editors looking back on their rejection styles.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.