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.
Martin Amis' The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, "remarkably tedious" but The Guardian adds, "Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani's literary victims.") Also out, Sebastian Junger's War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
It’s not a commonly held opinion, but Hilary Mantel thinks Henry VIII was a romantic. In a brief interview with Jamie Sharpe, the Wolf Hall author dispels the common view of the oft-married king as a philanderer. “He thought that he had to shape his life and shape his kingdom for each woman,” she says. “Men didn’t think that way in those days.” You could also read Damian Barr’s interview with her at The Millions.
Out this week: The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson; Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford; Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet; Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter; Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare; A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin; Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash; and Shark by Will Self. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly.” Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, has published a front-page letter to Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook censored an iconic image from the Vietnam war. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a naked nine-year-old Kim Phúc running away from a napalm attack was deleted from a post about seven images "that changed the history of warfare.” Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters, wrote for us about the legacy of that infamous photo a few years back.
New this week is a debut collection of loosely linked stories that's been getting some attention. Military families are the common theme in Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men Are Gone. Another newly released debut is Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters about a Shakespeare scholar's three daughters, all named after characters from the Bard's plays. Also new this week, a tome dedicated to the "hot" condiment of the moment, The Sriracha Cookbook.
"LET THERE BE stress. Let the body respond to stress as it does to injury and infection. Let stress be a vulture that pecks at the mind and devours the body. This will make people less likely to be stressed. When they see stress wreak wrath upon the body, they will surely calm down a lot." It seems the big problem with intelligent design is that it had a pretty sub-par peer review.