At the New York Times, Elif Batuman has a long and absorbing article on the trial over Kafka’s manuscripts: “It’s impressive that [Kafka’s] sisters had between them four lawyers, although, to put things in perspective, Josef K. at one point meets a defendant who has six.”
In the late fifties, an old flame of Samuel Beckett, Ethna MacCarthy, fell ill and died of throat cancer in Dublin. Around this time, female voices began to enter Beckett’s work, which up until that point had featured almost exclusively male characters. Was there a connection? In a review of a new edition of Beckett’s letters, Fintan O’Toole suggests that there was. You could also read Elizabeth Winkler on the author’s bilingual oeuvre.
Like writing personal essays? Want to get one published on The Hairpin? Sign up for the Skillshare class Writing Personal Essays that Get Read (taught by Friendship author and Year in Reading alum Emily Gould) and you might have your essay chosen for a feature on the site. The class is included with Skillshare membership ($10 per month). Better yet: the first 50 readers of The Millions to click here can sign up for free.
A charming doodle of the beautiful connecting covers for mid Clarice Lispector’s four soon-to-be-released novels. You can also buy a poster of the original from New Directions. And given how much Carolyn Kellogg enjoyed them, mentally shelving the Brazilian author beside Kafka and Joyce, and of course based on the near infinite readability of The Hour of the Star, I’m wondering if this will be the year of Lispector.
Ben Lerner has a story [subscription required] in this week’s New Yorker that, like his debut novel Leaving the Atocha Station, features a protagonist named The Author. The magazine interviewed Lerner about the invitation to blur his fiction with his autobiography. He says that his work in an exercise in “activating those questions in peculiar ways—but the questions, not the answers, are what strike me as interesting.”