To get geared up for our own “Year in Reading” series, here is The Telegraph’s best books of 2011.
“I can tell you that, as of today, I don’t feel any different about Mr Whitehead, or his review, or my response.” Richard Ford doubles down on his reaction to a negative 2001 review by fellow novelist Colson Whitehead. (Said response, in case you missed it, was to tell Whitehead ‘you’re a kid, you should grow up,’ and spit in his face.) We hope Whitehead is laughing at home with his Pulitzer Prize, recently awarded for last year’s literary juggernaut The Underground Railroad. And as our own Emily St. John Mandel reminds us, there are far more gracious ways to respond to criticism.
Michele Filgate was so terrified by Dave Eggers’s The Circle that she quit social media for a week and wrote about the experience for Salon. “I don’t want to become like Mae, sacrificing real-life friendships for the allure of the screen. I want to be aware of the world around me. I want to write about that world. I want to feel more alive, even if that means being lonelier in the process.” Pair with: our review of the novel.
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
New this week is Joshua Cohen’s Four New Messages, while John Banville (writing as Benjamin Black) is out with Vengeance. Also new on shelves: Aftermath, a memoir by Rachel Cusk; Peter Heller’s post-apocalyptic debut novel The Dog Stars; David Gillham’s novel of WWII Berlin, City of Women; and In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner’s novel set in the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge. Out in paperback are Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son and Edie Meidav’s Lola, California.
Google has launched a new search filter to its “advanced search page” that allows people to sort content based on reading level — basic, intermediate, or advanced. Google thinks The Millions lands in the middle. Search your website using the feature to see how Google rates it. (Disclaimer: we can’t see any rhyme or reason to their ratings.) (Update for you visitors from Gawker: If this Google business bores you – and lets be honest, it’s not that exciting – stick around and check out our much more scintillating Year in Reading series, featuring Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Sam Lipsyte and all manner of literary luminaries.)