In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
“In the twenty-first century, the lyric essay at its worst is a utility or an app; at its best, it’s a cross-hatch of a genre in which things cross over; implicitly chiasmic, it’s a space in which incompatible discourses are allowed to intermingle; wherein poetry and prose create productive frictions, enabling a new, unnatural form, illegible and readable for the first time.” Mary Cappello writes about the lyric essay and Djuna Barnes.
Out this week: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo; Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty; Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin; The Surveyors by Mary Jo Salter; and The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
The Common has a newly translated chapter of Turki al-Hamad’s novel Al Karadib. Its publication online coincides with the one-year anniversary of al-Hamad’s arrest in December 2012 for “tweets considered apostasy.” This featured chapter is the first part of the book to be translated into English.