“[I]n the world of letters, it is hard to imagine a more seismic change than this one.” The New York Times announces that its longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down after nearly four decades of reviews.
The Times also offers a roundup of her greatest hits, including writeups of Beloved, Infinite Jest, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Bill Clinton‘s memoir My Life:
The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.
This announcement was followed by the great news that repeat Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal will join Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner as a Times book critic, leaving her position as senior editor of the NYT Book Review. Congratulations, Parul!
Now that Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Award, it’s worth looking back on her interviews from recent years. You can read her piece in the Art of Fiction series, published in 2010 in The Paris Review; you could try her interview with the Times from back in October; or else you could take a look at her sit-down with The New Yorker in April. (This probably goes without saying, but you could also just read her new novel.)
New this week: Amnesia by Peter Carey; Outline by Rachel Cusk; The First Bad Man by Miranda July; Binary Star by Sarah Gerard; Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Refund by Karen Bender; In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen; Harraga by Boualem Sansal; and West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 First-Half Book Preview.
This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you’ll read this morning. “Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form,” Demary writes, “I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia.”