In the world of selling books, it's not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. "The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do... Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up."
Out this week is Russian author Vladimir Sorokin's Day of the Oprichnik. Coinciding with that release, NYRB Classics is putting out Sorokin's Ice Trilogy. Georges Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is now on shelves, as is Stewart O'Nan's Emily, Alone, in which he revisits the Maxwell family from his 2002 book Wish You Were Here.
Want a write a great short story? Here's a chance to learn from MacArthur Fellow, New Yorker "20 Under 40" writer, and Year in Reading alum Yiyun Li. Her new 45-minute Skillshare class, Writing Character-Driven Short Stories, is now available and included with Skillshare membership ($10 per month). Better yet: the first 50 readers of The Millions to click here can sign up for free.
The creative writing department at Florida International University has released the ninth issue of their on-campus literary magazine, Gulf Stream. The issue features the publication’s first inaugural Author Roundtable – a discussion between agents and writers from the Miami Writers Institute and novelists Cathy Day and Marc Fitten.