On this week’s New Yorker Out Loud podcast, Rebecca Mead recommends (seriously) Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth — “the real thing” — for teen-readers who love the Cecily von Ziegesar Gossip Girl series.
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
“Whatever the [Fulbright] program became,” writes Boston Globe correspondent Sam Lebovic, “it was first conceived as a budget-priced megaphone to transmit American ideas to the world, rather than as a genuine international dialogue.” Indeed, one 1940s newspaper columnist dubbed the program “an ingenious piece of higher mathematics…[that] found a way to finance out of the sale of war junk a worldwide system of American scholarships.”
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
“I’m a writer through and through, but the art world—to a large extent—provides the arena in which literature can be vigorously addressed, transformed, and expanded.” Frederic Tuten interviews Tom McCarthy about the overlap between the visual arts and literature, the importance of reading, and living, voraciously, and the power of Finnegans Wake for BOMB Magazine. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s review of BOMB: The Author Interviews.