Stephen Dodson wasn’t the only one inspired to write about Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate this month. Over at The New Republic, Adam Kirsch calls Grossman’s masterpiece one of the world’s “very greatest Holocaust novels.”
“In real life, we are often so bound by social convention, but at the same time we all have secret, inexplicable aspects of ourselves. The parts that nobody else sees. In fiction, we are not bound by social convention, so the things that mystify and unsettle are allowed to rise to the surface.” Salon interviews Laura van den Berg about her new novel, Find Me, which we covered in our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Do you love poetry, but often wish you were monitored on more government watchlists? Well, now you can scratch both of those itches by purchasing Poetry of the Taliban, a new anthology endorsed by and published on the group’s website. Unsurprisingly, the book has garnered its share of criticism, but as Melville House’s Kelly Burdick notes, it also has a coalition of allies and proponents.
“I am going to propose: The rigmarole is truly underexploited. Everyone should write a ‘Conversations with Drummond’ about themselves and about every opinion-spouting person they know. For the historical record. For revenge. For the children. Especially if you’re well-known, or right in the middle of the action, or both.” Anthony Madrid for The Paris Review looks at Ben Jonson, William Drummond, and the rigamarole.
The first installment in a series of bloggers reading through the shortlist of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Aaron Bady looks at Rotimi Babutunde’s Bombay Republic [pdf]. A full list of participating bloggers is available at the bottom of Bady’s post.
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”