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.
In what reads like someone’s answer to the “who would you invite to a literary dinner party” question, novelists Jeanette Winterson and Marlon James sat down for a fantastic conversation at a Miami hotel bar. James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Man Booker prize earlier this year.
South Florida readers! Assuming you’re done voting by now, you should make next week’s Miami Book Fair International a priority. Afterward, you can go celebrate thirty years of Books & Books, the jewel of Coral Gables. (And perhaps to warm up for it all, you can read my review of Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood.)
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer‘s piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things — complicated geopolitical matters, for example — must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer’s assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
The good souls at Longform.org have organized all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners.
Ever since the Man Booker prize was opened up to American writers, there’s been a renewed debate about America’s contributions to the literary scene. Many people have wondered who past Bookers would have gone to had American authors been eligible. At The Guardian, a roundtable including Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris, Curtis Sittenfeld, Edna O’Brien and Martin Amis pick American books they think would have won if they’d had the chance. You could also read Joanna Scutts on the history of the prize, or check out the most recent Booker shortlist.
At Flavorwire Jonathan Sturgeon considers what we’ve learned from Dubliners in the hundred years since it was first published and argues that “when it comes to realism, Dubliners, more than even Chekhov’s short fiction, is the model we routinely fail to live up to.” Sturgeon’s reflections on Joyce‘s free indirect discourse pair well with Jonathan Russell Clark‘s Millions essay on close writing, and his essay isn’t completely without hope: he concludes with a few books that, “on the surface, look nothing like Dubliners, but, in spirit… show that Joyce’s book still lives 100 years on.”