Out this week: Startup by Doree Shafrir; Borne by Jeff VanderMeer; The Maids by Junichiro Tanizaki; The Last Neanderthal by our own Claire Cameron; and Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
British novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard has died at the age of 90. She was famous for The Cazalet Chronicles and her literary love affairs with Kingsley Amis (one of her three husbands), Cecil Day-Lewis, and Arthur Koestler. Despite that her writing career spanned 60 years, she admitted that she found writing frightening in a recent interview. "You’ve got to be pretty nervous about the challenge, the blank page – anything could be on it, it could be crap or it could be wonderful."
What's the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how's the writing going? "Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready," Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
Among the better Tumblr memes is Read to Me Tuesday, which is exactly what it sounds like: people choose a passage from a book, call in and read the passage over the phone. The resulting posts are compiled under the hashtag #RTMT and often re-blogged by rtmt.tumblr.com. As we see increased interest in social reading experiments like bookglutton.com, RTMT shows how the web might make social connection through reading aloud a possibility for the first time since, well, story time. Plus it's really, really fun.
"The home I grew up in will never exist again, and this is why I write so much about home, perhaps. Because I lost mine," Jesmyn Ward told Roxane Gay in an interview for The Toast. They discussed Ward's new memoir, Men We Reaped, her writing process, and how she deals with being labeled a "black woman writer."