Will Self, whose novel Umbrella was recently tapped for the Booker Prize Longlist, talks about his literary influences with The Browser. For what it’s worth, here’s Self’s take on writing with the specific goal of a literary prize in mind: “I don’t know any writers who are trying to be clever and get a literary prize. Who the fuck would bother with such a thing?”
Recommended Reading: this essay by Sophia Knight on why she decided to quit her high-stakes job as a corporate editor in favor of a more modest writer’s income. If it’s publishing stories you’re after, here’s an old Millions favorite on whether or not to self-publish.
The Atlantic is kicking off its new series, YA for Grown Ups, with an examination of “The Greatest Girl Characters in Young Adult Literature.” Obviously The Hunger Games‘s Katniss Everdeen is up there, but don’t worry, Ramona Quimby makes the list too.
Out this week: The Mothers by Brit Bennett; The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky; Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar; Future Sex by Emily Witt; Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner; Upstream by Mary Oliver; and Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
New Herring Press is a Brooklyn/Portland publisher of prose chapbooks, and they’re likely the best new chapbook press you haven’t heard of yet. Volume II of their annual series features titles by Eileen Myles, Justin Torres, Amanda Davidson, and Sara Veglahn, with cover art by illustrator Jacob Magraw-Mickelson. NHP’s ultra-short backlist includes notable authors like Lynne Tillman and Deb Olin Unferth. Volume III is in the works, with authors and artist TBA soon. Check them out at newherringpress.tumblr.com.
Haven’t read our own Mark O’Connell’s great new essay at Slate? To mark the hundredth anniversary of Dubliners, Mark paid a visit to the James Joyce House, which led him to reflect on life in his native city. “If you live in Dublin, if you are yourself a Dubliner,” he writes, “no matter how many times you read the book, it will always reveal something profound and essential and unrealized about the city and its people.”
“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.