There There by Tommy Orange is one of our most anticipated books of the year. It debuts next week and this week Orange receives the New York Times treatment along with a few other rising star indigenous writers in an excellent profile. “Mr. Orange is part of a new generation of acclaimed indigenous writers from the United States and Canada who are publishing groundbreaking, formally innovative poetry, fiction and prose, shattering old tropes and stereotypes about Native American literature, experience and identity. Their ranks include poets like Layli Long Soldier, Natalie Diaz, Joshua Whitehead and Tommy Pico, and the essayists and memoirists Elissa Washuta and Terese Marie Mailhot.
“It’s rough out there for artists and writers right now, I know. There are days when you just want to throw in the towel, say fuck it, fake your own death, give insurance fraud a go, and live out of a Winnebago somewhere in remote Ontario. That’s a good plan—that’s a really good plan—but remember, you’ve got options.” The Paris Review considers the life of artist Reuben Kadish, who bought a disused dairy farm, made it a viable business in a decade’s time, and changed his medium from painting to sculpture in the process.
For those of us who refuse to trade in the typewriter, however, there’s always our popular piece on how to write a novel.
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You’re not alone. Here’s a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: “But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it.”
Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is underway. This year’s submissions will be judged by What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank author (as well as Year in Reading contributor) Nathan Englander, and the victor will earn a $1,500 prize as well as publication.
Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.
What drives the Year in Reading alum and Boy, Snow, Bird author Helen Oyeyemi? If we can believe her interview with The Globe and Mail, it isn’t just the enjoyment she derives from writing fiction. When asked why she wrote her new book, she said: “A few reasons, but mainly to see if I could…at this point, it’s perversity that keeps me writing.”
In the Winter 2013 issue of The Paris Review, Kevin Prufer published a poem, “How He Loved Them,” that tackled the aftermath of a car bomb explosion outside of a courthouse. On the magazine’s blog, Robyn Creswell interviews Prufer, who laments that “somehow, when we enter the territory of politics, we expect our poems to shill for votes, to argue strongly for particular beliefs.” (He also has a new book out.)