“Sitting there in my thrift-store jacket and boa with my legs spread, I was a study in cubism: lips mouthing well-bred earnest truisms about postcolonial theory, hand guiding their hand up under my skirt, it was, on a deep level, hilarious.” Chris Kraus writes about working New York’s topless hustle bars at n+1.
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better -- h/t Dan Farrely]
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it's fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. "At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, 'Oh my God, it’s publication day' and I have a panic attack like 'Oh my God, what have I done?' I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book."
Thanks to recent advancements in digital scanning technology, it looks like the Herculaneum scrolls will be made legible after some two thousand years. The new technique allows for close study of the scrolls without causing irreparable damage to the papyrus via exposure to the moisture in the air, an issue which had dogged scholars for centuries. If the impermanence and tenuousness of writing is more your speed, here’s a bit on Twitter, instead.
Many people, cities, and states recognized Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on Monday. The New Inquiry takes a look at indigenous history in America. Pair with our review of Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account, which “underscores the notion that history often dismisses crucial voices.”
After successfully raising funds through their Kickstarter campaign (which we’ve mentioned previously), Red 14 Films has begun releasing the first of their cinematic book trailers. First up is this video for Jason Ockert’s novel, Neighbors of Nothing. Look out for works for Monica Drake, Matt Bell, and Scott Dominic Carter in the near future as well. In the meantime, you can also check out an earlier video put together for Athena Lark’s Avenue of Palms.
What inspired Wally Lamb's latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women's prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it's like to teach "the incarcerated wounded" and how they have influenced his work. "With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring."