The Guardian‘s Books Blog is hosting a tournament to determine “The Great American Novelist,” and the list of the final 32 seeded contenders, as voted by the site’s readers, is enough to raise some eyebrows—not as much for who did make the cut as for who didn’t. Guardian readers, haven’t you heard of Richard Yates?
“If you lack a competent distributor down here, then consider me at your service. Nothing would make me happier than to drive Salems off the market for good and ever. It’s without a doubt the foulest cigarette in the history of tobacco-addicted man—a tasteless mish-mash of paper and dry weeds.” Boy, Hunter S. Thompson really hated Salems.
When you think “Franz Kafka,” it typically isn’t his sunny disposition that comes to mind. According to Reiner Stach, this new collection of ephemera, however, seeks to challenge the tired, old conception of Kafka-as-tortured neurotic. Here’s a Millions review of Stach’s twin biographies of Kafka, himself.
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.