“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
“[S]he and her sister should not be affected by the riot. Riots like this were what she read about in newspapers. Riots like this were what happened to other people.” The Guardian runs 'A Private Experience,' a short story from Year-in-Reading alum Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Out this week: Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth; Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein; Lucky You by Erika Carter; An Arrangement of Skin by Anna Journey; The River of Kings by Taylor Brown; and More Alive and Less Lonely by Jonathan Lethem. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
This year’s Whiting Award winners have been announced. The award recognizes “ten emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior work to come.” The winners include Catherine Lacey (of Nobody Is Ever Missing); Alice Sola Kim (of Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying); and Ocean Vuong (of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, among other books).
"Robinson resists the notion of love as an easy antidote to a lifetime of suffering or solitude, suggesting that intimacy can’t intrude on loneliness without some measure of pain." Leslie Jamison reviews Marilynne Robinson's latest novel, Lila, which was recently longlisted for the National Book Award.