New York Times has a cool feature I was unaware of, letting you browse issues from 1851-1922 in all their original grandeur. Articles are also available for download as PDFs.
Doubleday pulled a Beyonce and published Colson Whitehead’s latest book, The Underground Railroad, a month early. Oprah chose Whitehead’s book for her book club, and Doubleday “secretly started shipping out 200,000 copies in anticipation of the announcement.” You can also read a review from Michiko Kakutani at the New York Times.
“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson‘s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)