New this week are The New Republic by Lionel Shriver, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner, Suddenly, a Knock at the Door by Etgar Keret, W.G. Sebald’s Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964-2001, and The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin.
On Thursday, the fiction writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which marks the first time a Chinese writer has won the prestigious award. Lauded for his command of “hallucinatory realism,” Yan (whose pen name translates to “not talking” in Mandarin) has drawn comparisons to Faulkner for the complexity of his fictional settings. Back in 2005, John Updike published his thoughts on the writer.
“’This Is Just To Say’ is magical because of this personal, endless quality to it,” writes Jezebel’s Kate Dries in her exploration of the poem’s prevalence among Twitter comedians. Meanwhile Andrew Epstein remarks in a supplementary blog post, “I guess this is just to say that the Jezebel piece reminded me that Kenneth Koch was remixing and spoofing [William Carlos] Williams almost 50 years before anyone ever dreamt of Twitter.”
The Guardian interviews Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh about her writing life, noir fiction, and her novel Eileen. As she puts it, “I’m interested in taking establishment genre and turning it on its head. I didn’t really set out to write a noir novel and I don’t know if I exactly have.”
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century — namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.