“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
Out this week: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; The Letters of TS Eliot: Volume 5; Rocket and Lightship by Adam Kirsch; The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum; and a single-volume edition of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Quartz has a roundup of the books Hillary Clinton borrowed from the State Department library during her time as Secretary of State, including a memoir, poetry, and a lot of non-fiction. Pair with our piece about what private libraries reveal about their readers.
"In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking." The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
The Kindle edition of one of our Most Anticipated Books is on sale at $1.99. Our Man in Iraq, a novel by Robert Perišic, follows two Croatian cousins who manage to get caught up in the frenzy of the Iraq War. You can find out more in John Feffer’s interview with Perišic. (h/t Buzz Poole)
You may have heard that Vulture editor Adam Sternbergh was nominated for an Edgar Award for his book Shovel Ready last week. Now, to give Vulture readers a taste of his literary style, he’s published an annotated excerpt of the sequel Near Enemy, which came out earlier this month. As the introduction puts it, the excerpt includes “thoughts on history's first murder, the dubious appeal of Pepé Le Pew, and just how crazy New York apartment locks used to be.”
Look out, Darwin -- Wolfe's coming for you. Tom Wolfe's new book, The Kingdom of Speech, which we reviewed a couple of days ago, takes aim at Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky: "Like an industrial engineer who also makes bespoke dueling pistols in his shed on the weekends, Mr. Wolfe has made a side career of skirmishing with the eminati (his term) in an array of cultural fields. If fighting enlivens one’s mornings, Mr. Wolfe has had little need of caffeine."