Elif Batuman, Francine Prose, and Lorin Stein are among the critics, authors, and editors who reveal their least favorite “great books.”
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother’s outraged response to her 17-year-old son’s AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any “sexually explicit” assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.
Echoing Kevin Hartnett’s new year’s resolution here at The Millions, Colson Whitehead tells writers to quit bitching about getting distracted by the internet.
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story’s insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
“[I]t’s important that people begin to understand that whiteness is not inevitable, and that white dominance is not inevitable.” Claudia Rankine talks to The Guardian about her plans for the Racial Imaginary Institute, a think-tank-cum-gallery that she’s founding with all that MacArthur Genius cash. See also: why Americans love poetry, but not poetry books.