Parul Sehgal, nonfiction editor at Publisher’s Weekly (and sister of The Millions intern Ujala Sehgal), has been awarded the National Books Critics Circle “Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.” Previous winners include Joan Acocella, Ron Charles, and Sam Anderson. The award was based on her diverse portfolio of work as a reviewer, including a review of Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance, a review of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, and her piece on David Abram’s Becoming Animal. Congratulations!
Our own Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel The Lola Quartet is out today. New Yorkers can see her (and some other Millions staffers) read on Sunday. Also out are Robert Caro’s latest installment of his LBJ biography, Nell Freudenberger’s The Newlyweds, Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, and Steve Coll’s oil industry exposé Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.
“I am not at all sure—convinced, certain, persuaded—that creative-writing courses are a good idea unless they prevent people from writing sentences like this one, where adjectives—useful, helpful, intensely descriptive words—are stacked upon one another as Pelion used to be piled upon Ossa.” Alexander McCall Smith on the dangers of overwriting.
“I’m not paranoid, I’m really not.” The Washington Post has a profile of the so-called American Redoubt, an area of the Pacific Northwest populated by doomsday preppers. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s reading list of five can’t-miss apocalyptic narratives.
When Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, her horrifying and poetic book Voices From Chernobyl exposed a great many readers to the Chernobyl disaster. Now, this piece from The Atlantic takes a look at Chernobyl’s literary legacy over the past three decades.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is almost as famous for being sampled on Beyoncé’s latest album as she is for her novel Americanah. With that in mind, she discussed her writing process, hair blogs, and what feminism means to her in Elle. “It means that I am present in the world, and that I realize that there is a problem with the way we’ve constructed gender,” she said. For more Adichie, read her 2013 Year in Reading post.
“Despite its brevity, the diary is an illuminating document that offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist as a young woman.” The never-before-seen diary of Flannery O’Connor has been published in Image, an arts and faith quarterly, and reveals the shadow of the writer she would become. See also: our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching O’Connor.