Sometime Ph.D candidate, sometime actor, and ubiquitous lit blog all-star James Franco (henceforth known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”) has begun filming an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God in West Virginia, and I’m reminded of that line from W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” — “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
In Florida, legislators are wondering whether or not they should raise tuition costs for students studying the humanities, or really anything other than STEM fields. Likewise, James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy) bemoans Britain’s abundance of “students choosing to read humanities at university.” As a rejoinder, one New Statesman blogger notes that the study of humanities does not inhibit technological innovation, and that as a bonus, “we gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts.”
“In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking.” The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
Can’t get enough of Orange is the New Black? Neither could The Missouri Review. Their new blog series, Literature on Lockdown, shares narratives from those who teach or write in prisons. This week’s post comes from Ace Boggess, a poet who spent five years in a West Virginia prison. “One thing about being a writer in prison is that you have not lost everything. You still have that driving need to speak whatever truth you know in whatever way you can. No one can take that away from you, not even the State.”
“But the truth is that even very small actions can ripple outwards and have huge and far-reaching effects. In other words, the fires you start can be little, but don’t think they don’t matter, or that they won’t spread.” The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed Celeste Ng about writing about women, transracial adoption, and her novel, Little Fires Everywhere (featured in multiple Year in Reading entries).
Our own Edan Lepucki interviewed National Book Award finalists George Saunders and Rachel Kushner for the National Book Foundation. Saunders discussed money issues in his writing. “Now I feel like paucity vs. grace is one of the great American issues—we all live with it every day.” Kushner explained her writing process. “The sentences are beads on a string; I see each one as essential.”
New this week: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel; The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah; Youngblood by Matthew Gallagher; Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney; The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig; A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh; Don’t Lose Track by Jordannah Elizabeth; and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (who we interviewed this week). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
“A story works when there’s momentum, life behind the words,” Mary Miller told Matthew Salesses at The Rumpus. She needs that momentum for her new novel, The Last Days of California, about a family driving to California for the rapture. Also, Amy Butcher wrote about her favorite Millerisms at Hobart.