Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.
Over at Bloom today, a sneak look at an excerpt from Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer, featured this week on the cover of the NY Times Sunday Book Review and out April 7. Writes Philip Caputo, Nguyen "brings a distinct perspective" to the Vietnam War that "reaches beyond its historical context to illuminate more universal themes."
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
Poets and Writers sits down with Year in Reading alumnus Saeed Jones to talk writing, publishing, and BuzzFeed. "Creating change is about having a critical mass of several influences, but one is the right people, and creating a space where people feel that they can speak up and have these conversations and experiment."
Year in Reading alum Elizabeth McCracken has a new story collection out this week, and to mark the occasion, she spoke with Kelly Luce over at Salon about her writing, her Twitter obsession and -- strangely enough -- cannibalism (at least in the context of fairy tales). She also talks about the importance of humor, lamenting that “some young writers mistake humorlessness for seriousness.” (Related: Tanya Paperny wrote a eulogy for the translator Michael Henry Heim.)
"The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward." On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.