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.
Liked watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk last year? Then consider picking up a copy of We Should All Be Feminists. The longform essay, now published as an ebook original, was adapted from topics Adichie touched upon in her speech, among them the importance of being a feminist in the twenty-first century. You could also look back on Adichie’s Year in Reading piece.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
If you’ve ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the “flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one” shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading “The Naming of Cats.”
Yet another open archive for your summer reading enjoyment: the Baffler (“the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge”), as part of a website redesign, has made available its entire back catalog of commentary and fiction. Might I suggest starting with this now-charmingly-antiquated piece on marketing to the youthful “hipster” generation? (The Paris Review has other suggestions. It’s hard to go wrong.)