At Newsweek, Jeremy McCarter reviews The Cross of Redemption, a new anthology of James Baldwin’s previously uncollected essays and public letters: “At a time when serious people claim we live in a ‘post-racial’ society, the reappearance of Baldwin’s writing—insistent, accusatory, outraged—feels like a terrible family secret coming to light in an Ibsen play, or Banquo’s ghost showing up to spoil the party.”
Attention New Yorkers: The 2010 PEN World Voices Festival kicks off today with Claire Messud, Lorraine Adams, and Norman Rush. Update: Audio of this stimulating discussion of diversity in literature is available at WNYC. And it looks like many World Voices events will be streaming live at the PEN Website, accessible whether you hang your hat in New York or Nome (or Wasilla). Tonight catch Patti Smith, Rodrigo Frésan, and Salman Rushdie.
If last year’s The Marriage Plot was too brief a taste of semiotics for you, here’s an interesting essay on Jacques Derrida, “the Samson to tear down the temple of structuralism,” and his seminal 1966 American presentation on “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences.”
When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.
Out this week: My Lost Poets by Philip Levine; Orphans of the Carnival by Carol Birch; These Are the Names by Tommy Wieringa; A Poet’s Dublin by Eavan Boland; and Against Sunset by Stanley Plumly. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who’s been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)