Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
“This is how he justified what he did even as he knew what kind of parent he’d become, the kind that used to make him gag as recently as two months ago. The ones who blithely assumed their online friends were gluttons for punishment. Here’s my baby lying on his back! And here’s my baby also lying on his back! And how about this one: blurry baby on his back! Good God, the vanity of it all, the epic self-centeredness. He knew all this, and still he uploaded eleven pictures of Brian.” An excerpt of Victor LaValle’s new novel The Changeling. (You could also read our interview with the author from last year.)
At The Morning News, a wide-ranging conversation with the writer Philip Graham, most recently the author of The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon. Included is his account of getting a story into the New Yorker off the slush pile, and a footnote touting The Millions and other online literary venues as places to find great book recommendations.
Back in 1988, Tad Williams published the first book of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, which inspired George R.R. Martin to start writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Now, more than twenty years after publishing the last installment (and just as the new season of Game of Thrones begins), Williams announced that he’s writing a sequel, The Last King of Osten Ard. You could also read our own Janet Potter’s review of the first Game of Thrones book.
You may have read some portion of the infamous Watergate transcripts. What you probably haven’t read is quotes from the transcripts rearranged into poetry. At The Paris Review Daily, a few representative poems by Richard Nixon, including “I Can’t Recall,” “The Position” and “In the End.” You could also read our own Michael Bourne on Thomas Mallon’s book Watergate.