Just in time for today’s Booker announcement, a pair of shortlisters are now (or will be tomorrow) available stateside: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut and The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Ian Frazier’s big travelogue (generously excerpted in the New Yorker) Travels in Siberia is out, as is Adam Levin’s massive The Instructions from McSweeney’s. Three more: Djibouti by Elmore Leonard, How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, and a gorgeous Library of America edition of “six novels in woodcuts” by pioneering graphic novelist Lynd Ward.
“The short story, as a form, has plenty of defenders,” the collection of unconnected short stories, maybe not so much. In an essay for LitHub, regular Millions contributor Jonathan Russell Clark praises the unlinked stories of Barbara the Slut and Other People and Single, Carefree, Mellow because “despite a lack of the wholeness of a novel, something complete and true and hard-won emerges by the end.”
We all spend way too much time in airports this time of year, but Brad Leithauser searched for a metaphor about his journeys through BWI. As he writes for The New Yorker, “There was a piquant pleasure on the night when I first put these two experiences—morning churchgoing, evening airport-going—side by side. I’d been idly and only semi-consciously asking myself what these nocturnal intervals at B.W.I. reminded me of, and now, suddenly, I’d located my metaphor.”
New this week: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok; The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses; Shrink Thyself by the Letterman staff writer Bill Scheft; The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad; and the Cambridge University Press edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Taps at Reveille.
After the passing of Gabriel García Márquez, the team of Reed Johnson, Juan Forero, and Sara Munoz had cause to opine within the pages of the Wall Street Journal, who are the other “post-boom Spanish-language fiction writers whose works continue to redraw the map of Latin literature?” They list six suggestions, but I think one of the names on that list would’ve disagreed with the comparison. (Bonus: An unpublished Márquez manuscript may be on the way as well.)
“I lost the first good novel I ever wrote to a computer disaster. It happened at a crucial time in my life. I was working nights, living in a mouse-infested tenement in Giuliani-era Harlem and still figuring out if I could even do this thing — become a writer for real.” Mat Johnson on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog about the ultimate authorial nightmare, and how he recovered from it. Pair with our review of Johnson’s latest novel, Loving Day.
“[Virginie] Despentes has become a kind of cult hero, a patron saint to invisible women: the monstrous and marginalized, the sodden, weary and wildly unemployable, the kind of woman who can scarcely be propped up let alone persuaded to lean in.” On Virginie Despentes’s Bye Bye Blondie and French feminist pulp that pulls no punches.