New this week are Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt, Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse by Denis Johnson, Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays by Siri Hustvedt, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Team Cul de Sac, a book done in tribute to the great comic done by Richard Thompson and to raise money for research into Parkinson’s, which Thompson was diagnosed with in 2009.
“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.
How can science fiction writers invent aliens and entire planets but not include multifaceted characters of color in their fiction? At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky discusses the genre’s equality problem and analyzes how race is viewed in everything from The Left Hand of Darkness to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. “When that future unthinkingly reproduces current inequities, it seems like both a missed opportunity and a failure of imagination.”