Mama Hope, a group that works with local African organizations “to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities,” has released a great promo featuring four young men who are tired of Hollywood’s African stereotypes. Their complaints are reminiscent of those enumerated in Binyavanga Wainaina’s classic essay “How to Write about Africa,” and also in Laura Seay’s great article from last week, “How Not to Write About Africa.”
“Hell-bent on researching the most microscopic pieces of a layered family history, Charles Ward burrows deeply into Old Providence. Lovecraft’s meticulous scene-setting is answered in the graphic novel with Ian Culbard drafting stately mansion exteriors and farmhouses in simple, slender strokes and never lending them more than two or three tones from his understated color palette.” On a graphic novel treatment of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
In the wake of Jonathan Franzen‘s much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author’s life to aid their understanding of a given work: ” Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang.”
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters — “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” — by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of “likeability.” (There’s also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.