Essayist and Russian literature scholar Elif Batuman in an interview with the Boston Globe on how the Russians get the combination of “funny and sad” better than the Germans, the English, or the French.
Happy Freedom Day: The work at the center of all the reviews, magazine covers, and even, of course, controversy, has arrived. Jonathan Franzen’s long-awaited novel Freedom hits shelves today. Our review. Also out today is Booker longlister Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. Another newly translated Roberto Bolaño is out, The Insufferable Gaucho. As is You Were Wrong by Jamestown author Matthew Sharpe. Finally, fashion fans will dig vintage Japanese prepster handbook Take Ivy.
“He believed it a privilege and a shame that his race and nationality gave him the chance to come and go from lands where a guillotine blade seemed to dangle forever over the local citizens.” Denis Johnson‘s longtime Esquire editor Will Blythe pens a remembrance of the writer for The New York Times. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s recommendation of Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back. “I know it will knock him out,” she wrote. “It does (of course).”