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.
After three years of judging, and now “like one of those guys who comes back after graduation and loiters creepily around campus, remembering [his] faded glory days,” our site’s editor-in-chief C. Max Magee finally made it into the booth for the zombie round in The Morning News‘ Tournament of Books. Check out the perils of “the ARC onslaught” and which books were missing from the tournament altogether.
Tasteless and horrifying–nay, even a sign of the apocalypse–or rather excellent advice for college-bound young ladies? You decide: Vice Magazine‘s “A Beginner’s Guide to Drugs For Girls.” (A taste: “Here are some pointers for the beginners out there so you can get high without becoming that girl slumped in the corner of the night bus with vomit all over your shoes and lockjaw so bad your teeth have all snapped in half.”)
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
Sometimes, a writer needs to live in the setting of his or her fiction, as was the case with William Faulkner, who famously took a train from Hollywood to Mississippi solely to break through his writer’s block. Other times, they need to move away to find the inspiration to write about their home. In The Globe and Mail, Marsha Lederman writes about Emma Hooper, who credits her move to England with helping her write a novel set in her native Saskatchewan.