Most institutions that become an essential part of a local culture build up a collection of curios over the years. They collect as much evidence as they can of their proximity to major events. At the New York Public Library, for example, you can find a letter opener whose handle is made from the paw of Charles Dickens’s dead cat. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
“What stereotypes will they critique, destroy, or create? What, in other words, will the post-earthquake novel reveal about Haiti’s most recent losses, obstacles, and hopes for the future?” Patti Marxsen on the post-earthquake Haitian novel, over at The Critical Flame.
France's top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, has been awarded to the French-Moroccan journalist and novelist Leïla Slimani, The New York Times reports. Slimani's book, Chanson Douce, is loosely based on a tragic case in New York City in which two children were murdered by their caretaker. Earlier this year we reviewed another book that was a finalist for the prize, The Heart.
Late November brings work of another favorite Madrileño to the forefront. The final book of Javier Marías's Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, will be published at the end of the month by New Directions. The incomparable Marias will make two New York appearances, a reading at the 92nd St Y (with Paul Auster) and a conversation with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library.
Out this week: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss; Katalin Street by Magda Szabó; Letters to Memory by Karen Tei Yamashita; Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke; Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún; A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe; After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun; and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Do our brains determine how we write? Joyce Dyer explores the possibility that genre is influenced by how our brains are wired but wonders if that limits us. "The page may be forcing compromises that the brain, in such close relationship with the mind, must rightly refuse," she writes.