One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book’s opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler’s memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.
“What do I want to say with this new language that I can’t say in my native language—or any other language that currently exists?” From The Lord of the Rings to A Game of Thrones, Josephine Livingstone explores the history of invented languages, over at The New Republic.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
“She loved that I had to kiss her goodbye 16 times or 24 times if it was Wednesday.” In poet Neil Hilborn’s slam poem “OCD,” he discusses what it’s like for a person with obsessive compulsive disorder to fall in love and incorporates his tics in the performance.
“Someone asked me what I was doing in my 10‑year break,” says Kazuo Ishiguro with a boyish chuckle. “And I thought: yes, there has been a 10-year break since my last novel, but I personally haven’t been taking a 10‑year break!” The Telegraph talks with Ishiguro about his new novel and the first he’s published since Never Let Me Go, The Buried Giant.
“I couldn’t put the books down. Now that so many of us complain of diminished attention spans— our own as well as our companions’—it’s worth asking what has made millions of readers willing to suspend their disbelief—to suspend their selves—for thousands of pages.” Why have so many people gone gaga for Ferrante and Knausgaard? We have our own theories as well.