The Morning News has just launched a series on contemporary Russian literature. For this week’s installment Anna Starobinets provides an exerpt of her debut manuscript, An Awkward Age, and chats about her writing with Elizabeth Kiem. In the New Yorker, Sally McGrane profiles Boris Akunin, Russian writer of potboilers and political dissident.
Recommended listening: Benjamin Percy, whose novel The Dead Lands was released just this week, sings "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Writers" for the debut episode of Poets & Writers's new podcast, Ampersand.
New this week: The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann; Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal; Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra; How to Be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans; and The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
One of the surprises of last week’s James Beard Awards was the runaway success of McSweeney’s offshoot Lucky Peach, which ended up taking home five out of seventeen awards. On John Birdsall’s Tumblr, you can read one of the winning essays, which bears the attention-grabbing title of “America, Your Food Is So Gay.” (Related: Jessica Ferri on food writing.)