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.
Some of the best novels out there -- Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men -- deal largely with fictional friendships. Yet depictions of close friends that are central to the plot are considerably rare in modern novels. At The Guardian, AD Miller notes this isn’t the case for movies and TV shows, and suggests a number of reasons why. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on friendship in the age of Facebook.
A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, "even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes."
Interested in seeing unsettling characters -- preferably with moustaches -- looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He's also coming out with a new book.)
“Well, is ‘addiction’ what a literary writer should want in readers? And if a writer accepts such addiction, or even rejoices in it, as Murakami seems to, doesn’t it put pressure on him, as pusher, to offer more of the same?” Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers who keep producing more of the same to please hungry readers.