Here are the first lines of the new David Mitchell novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, forthcoming in July: “‘Miss Kawasemi?’ Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. ‘Can you hear me?’ In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates. Orito dabs the concubine’s sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth.”
Recommended Reading: “Ursula’s Curse,” an excerpt from a forthcoming Eugene Lim novel. The piece’s protagonist seems less concerned with the end of his life (and maybe the human race) than he is with remembering an artist who tried to reach “a limit to the art market’s baseness.”
Sonia Faleiro takes a look at the “book boys of Mumbai” who participate in India’s quasi-illegal pirated book market. (It’s an issue also discussed in Akshay Pathak’s most recent dispatch on Indian publishing.) Faleiro notes that books often appear on the streets as soon as they’re released to stores – and also that by 1999, as much as “20 to 25 percent of all books sold in the country were pirated.” Meanwhile, the former production editor in me wonders, how the heck are they re-printing these books so quickly?
“It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so.” For Time magazine’s American South issue Jesmyn Ward writes about her decision to return home to Mississippi.
“While guys spent time in these Seg cells calling out chess moves over the walkways or doing push-ups until their veins bulged from their temples, I was in my cell pecking away trying to create a different world for myself. Some kind of way I felt I could rewrite my future.” For The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog, Daniel A. Gross tells the story of the Swintec Corporation, the nation’s sole supplier of clear typewriters, whose largest market is prisons. Pair with our own Bill Morris on using his Royal to write.