Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
Read this interview with Mary H.K. Choi where she discusses her novel, Emergency Contact, and how it offers a more modern (2010s) portrayal of Asian American mother-daughter relationships. "Choi’s novel blows up Asian female stereotypes and prods readers to question their own cultural biases about women of color. For instance: Not all Asian moms are like Lane Kim’s in “Gilmore Girls.” Not all of them own antique shops or dry cleaners, care singularly about grades and won’t let their baby tiger cubs date until they’ve finished graduate school."
"In recent decades the traditional outlets for individual short stories have dwindled, with literary magazines closing or shrinking. But the Internet has created an insatiable maw to feed." Why both the Internet and electronic devices might be good for the short story.
“Who was Bret Easton Ellis describing when he tweeted: 'The best example of a contemporary male writer lusting for a kind of awful greatness that he simply wasn't able to achieve'?” The Guardian has a delicious quiz of literary putdowns. And speaking of fighting, let's talk about books about violence.
MacArthur Genius™ Deborah Eisenberg, whom we've often celebrated here, publishes her 1,000-page Collected Stories this month - we ardently commend it to your attention. If you've read 'em all already, get your Eisenberg fix at the NYRB, where she reviews Dezsõ Kosztolányi's "quiet, shattering, perfect" novel Skylark.
"The hijacking of public language, as is happening now, is a way to shift perception—to bend and control thought—and must be resisted." Summer Brennan pens a powerful first entry for her twice-monthly column about language and power at The Literary Hub. Read also our own Lydia Kiesling, who tells us, "I have to believe that literature can be a weapon of a sort — it explodes comfort even while it delivers comfort; it reveals hypocrisy in a way that the mere presentation of facts often cannot."