Controversial writer Michel Houellebecq finally wins France’s top literary award, the Goncourt Prize, for The Map and the Territory (published in French last September).
"Did you know that alcohol originally meant eyeshadow, clouds were rocks or that a moment once lasted precisely 90 seconds?" From The Guardian, 10 words that no longer mean what they used to. And if you enjoy that trip down etymology lane, you'll probably also dig this week's piece about the curse words of Charles Dickens.
New this week: Flings by Justin Taylor; We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas; The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar; Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark; The Undertaking by Audrey Magee; Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher; and a new translation of a French children’s book by Lydia Davis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
"[S]ometimes, one of the best ways to better understand racism is to just pick up a book." As part of a recent tweet about his availability for racial consultation, Colson Whitehead recommended an evergreen Huffington Post piece entitled "16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read", a list that includes Claudia Rankine's Citizen, T. Geronimo Johnson's Welcome to Braggsville, and The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which we reviewed here. We hope he's collecting referral fees.
Everybody lies, or so the saying goes. But how long have we known this was true? At Slate, Katy Waldman reviews a new history of lying, delving into the knotty philosophy behind efforts to excuse deceit. You could also read our own Edan Lepucki and Janet Potter on deceit as it pertains to Gone Girl.
Looking for a way to spice up your short story? Add a ghost. "This is going to sound strange, but what your story really needs is a ghost," Lorrie Moore said in an interview with The New York Times. She discussed her new professorship at Vanderbilt and her new short story collection, Bark, which, yes, does contain a ghost story.