New from Stephen Fry: Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All, a book recounting his travels in America while filming the BBC series of the same name–enlighteningly and entertainingly reviewed at The Washington Times. Includes the shocking revelation that Fry very nearly became an American!
Edwidge Danticat gives us one of the best definitions of the short story in an interview with Kima Jones at The Rumpus. "The short story is like an exquisite painting and you might, when looking at this painting, be wondering what came before or after, but you are fully absorbed in what you’re seeing." They also discuss Danticat's novel Claire of the Sea Light, Haitian and Dominican relations, and giving yourself permission to tell the truth. To find out what Danticat has been reading, see her 2013 Year in Reading.
You may have heard that E.L. Doctorow passed away last week. The Ragtime and Billy Bathgate author was known for his mastery of historical fiction. At The Guardian, Michael Chabon offers a tribute, arguing that Doctorow found a way out of the binary trap between postmodernism and realism.
Ladbrokes, the popular bookmaker, has correctly predicted the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature with “a 50 percent accuracy rate” over the past eight years. This remarkable record is noteworthy because the oddsmakers do not actually read any of the books, and they do not go about “forming an opinion about the relative merits of each author.” Instead, the folks responsible for each year’s odds “appl[y] a numerical value to things like industry chatter, an author’s nationality, historical precedent.” So, that in mind, how confident do you feel about Haruki Murakami’s chances?
One of the titans of Modernist poetry, Hilda Doolittle, or H.D. to her friends, was psychoanalyzed in the 1930s by none other than Sigmund Freud. Her letters to her friends describe the account in great detail, despite explicit instructions from Freud not to speak about their time together with anyone. This essay from The Millions on video games and Freud is a nice complementary piece.
New this week: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Hermann Koch; I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin; The Book of Unknown Americans by Year in Reading alum Cristina Henríquez; In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds; The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh; The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Helen O’Neill; and two new books, Paper Lantern and Ecstatic Cahoots, by Stuart Dybek.