Michiko Kakutani‘s generous and oddly moving review of Jay-Z‘s Decoded – in which she seems to find a kindred spirit – almost makes me want to take back all the mean things I’ve said about her. I still don’t trust her judgment, but the review’s worth reading just for the mental image of her in big headphones, nodding along to “Streets Is Watching.” Go ‘head, shorty.
Out this week: The Past by Tessa Hadley; Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt; The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela; The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian; Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington; The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert; Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris; and Jakob’s Colors by Lindsay Hawdon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our just-published Book Preview.
We give up a book for many reasons: it was too long, the writing was dull, it was written by E.L. James. Goodreads has charted just when and why we abandon books. Catch-22 is the number one abandoned book. (Confession: I didn’t finish it either.) Also, see our article on the pressures of finishing novels in the age of literary social media.
Granta posts Salman Rushdie’s 1984 essay ‘Outside the Whale’ – a response to an essay by George Orwell about the political role of the artist: “If writers leave the business of making pictures of the world to politicians, it will be one of history’s great and most abject abdications.”
Tomorrow the Root is launching its short story fiction section, ‘It’s Lit’. If you are a black writer you have a chance to be featured as long as your story is less than 10,000 words. If your story is chosen to be featured you receive $200. Submit your short story here.
Louis Menand, Thessaly La Force, Amelia Lester, and David Haglund have come together to discuss the influence of literary powerhouse and cultural icon Joan Didion in The New Yorker’s Out Loud Podcast. Our own Michael Bourne calls Didion America’s Truth Teller in his review of her biography.