Elif Batuman entertainingly muses on “hype” and resolves to “write five 5-star Amazon reviews this month of books I love by living authors.”
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that “Anton Chekhov’s “Sakhalin Island“, his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century.” Pair Sharma’s argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung‘s “I Heart Checkov” essay.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
There’s an oxymoron for you: “Rich Poet.” But the new fortunes of Emirati poet Saif Al Mansouri prove that with talent, grit, and a live television audience, truly anything is possible. The UAE show “Millionaire’s Poet,” in its sixth season, awarded $1.3 million (the Nobel Prize. for comparison, is $1.2 million) to winner Al Mansouri, and perhaps something even more valuable – a global audience of up to 70 million, actually tuning in.