Lorrie Moore is headed to Nashville, Tennessee as Vanderbilt University’s new Gertrude Conaway Professor of English. That sound you just heard is the excited shriek of every Commodore English major yelling out in ecstasy.
The office novel, by nature, is a tricky construct, if only because your average white-collar job doesn’t offer much in the way of fiction-worthy moments. That said, recent books like Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris demonstrate how fruitful it can be to wring drama out of the rat race. In the latest issue of Dissent, Cubed author Nikil Saval delves into the contradictions of office fiction. FYI, Saval wrote a Year in Reading entry for us.
“They are both popular and literary and seem to have no problem standing with a foot in each category.” For The Paris Review, our own Adam O’Fallon Price writes about the “unambiguous sophistication” of Curtis Sittenfeld‘s writing—which is often regulated to the world of “chick lit”—and her new short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld.)
Emily Harnett writes about Elena Ferrante’s bad book covers and how it embraces “women’s fiction” as a genre. As she puts it, “In a literary marketplace where the very image of a woman is seen as antithetical to literature, Ferrante’s covers take an important stand.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
Over at the Literary Hub, Morgan Jerkins writes about the struggle to describe blackness. As she puts it, “My hope is to create imperfect, multitudinous black women who are more in tune with themselves than their audiences.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
In her new book The Sixth Extinction, New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert makes the case that we’re living in the sixth massive die-off of species in our planet’s history. Corraling evidence from zoologists, environmentalists and more, Kolbert argues that human activity is the cause of this latest event. In a review over at Vulture, Kathryn Schulz writes that Kolbert “makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction.”