Now online: PEN World Voices video of Keith Gessen interviewing Vladimir Sorokin, author of the just-released Ice Trilogy and Day of the Oprichnik. I was a little nonplussed by the Times‘ decision to begin its profile of Sorokin with a discussion of his hair, but really…it is quite something. Come for the mane, stay for the acerbic insights.
In response to Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s argument that we should end high-school reading lists, our own Nick Ripatrazone defended reading lists here at The Millions. Now, on New Hampshire Public Radio, the two take the debate to the airwaves. (Bonus: Year in Reading alum Sam Lipsyte makes a cameo.)
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on "the nine-year plan," delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.
Riane Konc reviews the app Blinkist: "Blinkist is decidedly not a substitute for reading books. It may be a substitute for reading books that no one actually needs to read in the first place, books that only contained 15 minutes worth of an idea but had to be stretched out to 200 pages for the publishers." The app summarizes over 2000 nonfiction books in 15 minutes: read Konc's review and see if you should give it a shot.
This year marks the second anniversary of Asymptote, an international journal focusing on literature in translation. The staff is commemorating the occasion by hosting a series of events in eight different locales around the globe: Beijing, Barcelona, Berlin, Islamabad, Chicago, Taipei, Singapore and New York City. Folks attending The Big Apple’s event on January 20th will get to see Millions contributor Reif Larsen live in action alongside Cole Swensen, Paul Legault, Adam Sorkin, and Ariana Reines.
"My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, or a partner that’s left us—grief becomes its own comfort." Adnan Khan writes for Hazlitt about how apocalypse fictions mirror the immigrant experience and vice versa.