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.
Several years ago, Jeff Sharlet closely investigated The Fellowship – a “self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful” – in order to write a book about “how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power.” Now, Sharlet has followed up his initial report with an article about Westmont College, a “feeder school” for the religious movement. This is highly recommended reading for anybody interested in the intersections of power, influence, religious fundamentalism, and American politics.
I can’t recommend John Jeremiah Sullivan‘s 7,000-word article on The Pale King highly enough – not because he gets everything right, but because it’s what long-form writing about books should look like: passionate, lucid, wide-ranging, and awfully fun to read. I salute GQ for running it, and hope to see more literary coverage there in the future.
“I say peel back the immediate surface layer and let’s see what’s actually underneath, if it’s possible to find that out. As a child, of course, I grew up looking under dead logs to see if there might be a newt. Most of the time there wasn’t a newt. Sometimes there was.” Margaret Atwood talks newts and skepticism in a new interview over at Hazlitt. Atwood’s newest, The Heart Goes Last, is out now.
“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
Recommended Reading: A fascinating interview from The Rumpus with Susan Shapiro. Shapiro’s newest novel, What’s Never Said, is out now from Heliotrope Books. You may also be interested in Beth Kephart‘s essay for The Millions about the utility of the outward-looking memoir and its crossover with other genres.