The Republic of South Sudan has declared independence. Just three years ago, Dave Eggers published Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan (Voice of Witness). The Guardian has an excerpt. A year later, Jamal Mahjoub foresaw the secessionist fervor south of Darfur.
"Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year." This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature's list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay's Redeployment).
Zadie Smith in conversation with Édouard Louis for the Document Journal. "Listening to the novelists Édouard Louis and Zadie Smith in conversation inspires a kind of hushed glee, a bliss familiar to eavesdroppers who encounter sublime discourse. " How can you resist?
Speaking of festivals, recaps of last weekend's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books are up at Jacket Copy. Rafael Yglesias took home the top fiction prize for his novel, A Happy Marriage.