NPR’s Maureen Corrigan applauds Barbara Kingsolver‘s Lacuna for “single-handedly keeping consumer zest alive for the literary novel,” as “the only literary novel caught in the cross hairs” of the price wars waged by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target against booksellers (the others being genre novels). As for the book itself: “I wish I could say she also deserves kudos for writing a spectacular work of fiction…”
Heaven forbid someone ever draws parallels between your writing and that of “Robert Rabelais the Younger.” For his work, published in the nineteenth century, has been described as “the most appallingly bad epic poem to have ever been written in English, comprised of 384 interminable pages of doggerel verse devoid of any literary merit, an opus d’odure that screams stinkburger.” (And that’s one of the more positive evaluations.)
Over at McSweeney’s, Sarah Solomon has undertaken the Sisyphean task of bringing existentialism into the twenty-first century. In a series of brief vignettes, Solomon gives the oft-maligned Millennial generation the existentialist makeover they never asked for. Continue your study of the absolute indifference of the universe with this essay by Zach Pontz on The Meursault Investigation, a new novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud that imagines Albert Camus’s famous The Stranger from the perspective of the unnamed Arab antagonists.
Fun fact: Up until the late 1940s, science fiction novels really didn’t exist. Andrew Liptak writes about the rise of the paperback novel and the evolution of science fiction for Kirkus Reviews. Pair with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions essay on “The Point of the Paperback.”
The New Yorker has launched an online-only series dedicated to the novella, featuring longer works of fiction the magazine isn’t able to fit into print. “The novella is not, usually, an expanded story. Rather, it is a contracted novel, in which the omissions cover much ground. It is more ambitious than a story, denser and more gemlike than a novel.” Callan Wink’s In Hindsight launches the series, with an interview with the author.
Out this week: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich; Madame Zero by Sarah Hall; Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips; Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed; and Careers for Women by Joanna Scott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.