Recommended Reading: Powell’s bookseller Kevin Sampsell’s piece about talking a customer out of committing suicide, only to then be plagued by the thought of killing himself afterward.
The New York Public Library announced their eighteenth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, which is “given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories.” The 2018 finalists are: Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Venita Blackburn‘s Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Gabe Habash‘s Stephen Florida, Emily Ruskovich‘s Idaho, and Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart. From our archives: Habash and Zhang‘s 2017 Year in Reading entries.
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.
“I very quickly realized that if you want to seem as a serious writer, you can’t possibly look like a person who looks in the mirror.” Author, Boots spokesperson, Year-in-Reading alum, and all-around badass Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks to The New York Times about beauty, feminism, and writing.
We’ve been following the YA debate quite attentively – I wrote about it just last week – but Sarah Burnes‘s addition to the conversation, a blog post for The Paris Review, is one of the most eloquent I’ve read. In defense of reading YA fiction as a “grown-up” she writes, “The binary between children’s and adult fiction is a false one, based on a limited conception of the self. I have not ceased to be the person I was when I was an adolescent; in fact, to think so seems to me like a kind of dissociation from a crucial aspect of one’s self. And the critic should be concerned with what is good and what is bad, what is art and what is not—not with what’s ‘appropriate.'”
Out this week: The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee; Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li; Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez; Running by Cara Hoffman; The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan; Last Day On Earth by Eric Puchner; and The World to Come by Jim Shepard. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.