Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
“‘This is a place where people can let their Jane Austen freak flag fly.'” Last weekend, the Jane Austen Society of North America held their annual meeting in New York, attracting fans from all over the country, including Cornel West and Anna Quindlen.
You may have read some of our pieces on graphic novels and comics. The form is increasingly seen as an indispensable genre of literature. At Slate, a team of judges select the nominees for their third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, including Here by Richard McGuire and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.
Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s moving speech at The Sunday Times Literary Awards in which he speaks about the resilience of literature and the necessity of keeping less-popular languages alive is now available online. (Here’s our handy guide to pronouncing the author’s name, in case you were too embarrassed to ask.)
How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation — was the author simply having a midlife crisis?