Out this week: Hunger by Roxane Gay; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; The Accomplished Guest by Ann Beattie; So Much Blue by Percival Everett; Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal; The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton; and Blind Spot by Teju Cole. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
We're welcoming another regular to The Millions. You'll recognize Jacob Lambert from his ongoing series "The Road (A Comedic Translation)," and he'll be doing more humor pieces for us as well as whatever else he comes up with. Jacob has written for MAD Magazine for several years. He also has a regular column in Philly Weekly and freelances for various other publications. Welcome Jacob!
The Guardian has photos of A Little Life author Hanya Yanagihara's New York City apartment and its 12,000 – yes 12,000 – books. Pair with our interview with her from 2015: “It was the worst—the bleakest, the most physically exhausting, the most emotionally enervating—writing experience I'd had. I felt, and feared, that the book was controlling me, somehow, as if I'd somehow become possessed by it.”
"If culture is purely entertainment, nothing is of importance. If it's a matter of amusement, an impostor can undoubtedly amuse me more than a profoundly authentic person. But if culture signifies more than this, then it's worrying." Sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky interviews the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa about the contemporary collapse between "high" and "low" cultures.