Millions contributor Michelle Dean wrote for The New Yorker‘s Page Turner about Opal Whiteley, whose childhood diary–written when she was six on scraps of paper–was published over 100 years ago to meet with acclaim, then controversy, and then obscurity. If girl prodigies interest you as much as they do me, you’ll also love this 2010 piece from Lapham’s Quarterly, on Barbara Newhall Follett.
"Ms. Hazzard’s fiction is dense with meaning, subtle in implication and tense in plot, often with disaster looming: A shipwreck tears away the parents of tiny children. A man who has waited a lifetime for a woman loses her at the last moment." Novelist Shirley Hazzard, whose several books – including The Transit of Venus and the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire – received much acclaim, has died at 85, reports The New York Times. Also worth reading, her "Art of Fiction" interview with The Paris Review from 2005.
It's a bumper crop of new books this week: Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men, Kathryn Harrison's Enchantements, László Krasznahorkai's Satantango (reviewed here), and Adam Levin's Hot Pink. Also out this week are Alain de Botton's Religion for Athiests and Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander's New American Haggadah.
New this week: The Best of McSweeney’s; a new e-book edition of Highway Trade by John Domini; and new paperback editions of Between Heaven and Here by Susan Straight and Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis. (You could also read Susan Straight’s Millions essay on Toni Morrison's Sula.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Alan McPherson has passed away at 72. His anthology Elbow Room won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1978. He was one of the first individuals to receive a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. He graduated from Harvard Law school, but instead decided to pursue writing and later earned an MFA from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he was a professor emeritus.