A big week for books: Zadie Smith’s NW is out (read the first lines), as is Christopher Hitchens’s Mortality, a collection of essays penned while he fought cancer (our essay on Hitchens’ death) (his collection Arguably is out in paperback today). More new books: Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Umberto Eco’s essay collection Inventing the Enemy, Davy Rothbart’s essay collection My Heart Is an Idiot, Frederick Seidel’s poetry collection Nice Weather, documentarian Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, and the Navy Seal book about the bin Laden mission. Also, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is now out in paperback (read Eugenides on the book’s genesis), as is Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer winner The Swerve.
A German film about imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is set for release in Russia next week, but it is unlikely that many in the country will actually have an opportunity to see it.
Most of our internet browsing results in wasted time and too many cat videos, but Nora Crook stumbled upon Mary Shelley's unpublished letters while researching an obscure 19th-century novelist. In the letters, which range from 1831-49, Shelley fawns over her son and even discusses a 3 a.m. trip to her hairdresser when she got a ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831. The letters will be published soon in The Keats-Shelley Journal.
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov's Lolita "correspond thematically to the novel," blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
New this week: Orfeo by Richard Powers; Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates; Boy in the Twilight by Yu Hua; What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder; and His Day is Done by Maya Angelou. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.