This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
Calling a book “the spiritual prequel to The Road” is a great way to signal its command of dystopian tropes. It’s what Gabe Durham wrote about Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s recent YA novel Echo of the Boom. At The Rumpus, Durham interviews Neely-Cohen, who describes how he tried to give a metafictional bent to the novel. Related: we asked high school students to pick their favorite YA books of 2013.
When did Twitter turn into a place of public shame, outrage, and apology? Alexander Chee examines the changing culture in an essay for Dame Magazine. "Oh, Internet, place of the ultimate writerly paradox, where things you write quickly for little or no money last forever." Our own Mark O'Connell explored something similar in his New Yorker essay on the public humiliation of regrettable tweets.
"I never started out as a children’s book artist. What is a children’s-book artist? A moron! Some ugly fat pip-squick of a person who can’t be bothered to grow up. That’s the way we’re treated in the adult world of publishing." The Believer interviews the late Maurice Sendak, who passed away last May.
The recently (and controversially) appointed poet laureate of North Carolina has resigned from the post, but the upset generated by her short-lived laureateship can be interpreted as a sign of just how important poet laureates are. If you're unconvinced, or simply confused about what exactly poet laureates do, we have just the links for you.
“In a world where reality has become stranger than fiction, actual books are no longer selling.” At The New Republic, Morgan Jerkins talks with agents, authors, booksellers, editors, and publicists about whether the Trump presidency is bad for the book business. And on that note, let's revisit our own Bill Morris on book releases: “There are few iron facts in the crapshoot of the literary life, but here’s one: In book publishing — no less than in music, war, and sex — timing is everything.”