Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature's Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. "I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world," she said. The winners are Andrew Winer's review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe's review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green's Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
The Big Friendly Giant is coming to the big screen. Steven Spielberg will direct a live adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic book The BFG about a little girl and a friendly giant trying to stop his friends from eating children. If you had any doubt that Spielberg could bring sympathy to a mythical creature, he'll be pairing up with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison again.
"I am writing a book my father will never see. Not in its entirety, not out in the world." For Longreads, Nicole Chung writes about adoption, family, writing, and finishing her upcoming memoir, All You Can Ever Know, in the wake of her father's sudden death. Pair with: Julie Buntin's Year in Reading entry which feature's Chung's memoir.
You may not expect much from a write-up about The Smiths' new collected box set, Complete, but that's about to change. In a phenomenal piece on the relationship between racial (in particular Asian) otherness and the UK band's music, Sukhdev Sandhu explains how Morrissey's "lyrics and persona mapped out a structure of feeling that spoke to my own floundering selfhood."
"I thought there were would be more in this writing life, an easier path to walk. I write those words and know they are the unwise thoughts of my younger self and that I am still too stubborn to give up on my dreams. When Annie Dillard invited me outside for that smoke, she knew very well what it would mean to a young writer like me. She intuited my ambitions and it was her way of encouraging me." This essay is ostensibly about smoking cigarettes and playing catch with Annie Dillard, but it's also about the incredibly important role that an established writer can play in helping a struggling up-and-comer.