“Suddenly, it seems like gay characters are everywhere in Y.A. literature. Or, if not everywhere, certainly in far more places and in a greater variety than ever before.”
What if the next crisis to hit the headlines brings an end to the world as we know it? It’s a mind-bending thing to contemplate, but it’s what our own Emily St. John Mandel tackles in Station Eleven, which made it up to the final five of last year’s National Book Awards. On a new episode of The Takeaway, Emily talks about the novel, exploring what’s left when civilization withers away. You could also read our interview with Emily about the book.
Finalists for the Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize—including Sophie McManus, Ben Metcalf, Lori Ostlund, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chigozie Obioma, Tanwi Nandini Islam, and Angela Flournoy—discuss the books that made them the writers they are today. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone’s recent article on authors’ favorite childhood books.
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh is a downright mesmerizing elegy to the eclectic singer-songwriter. Part idiot-savant, part deliberate curmudgeon , Vic Chesnutt (who Rolling Stone has called one of the greatest songwriters of all time) was notoriously difficult to spend a lot of time around. Hersh stopped by Electric Literature for an interview about the book and about losing her dear friend Vic. Bonus: for anyone unfamiliar with Chesnutt’s work, this video will get you close.
Phillip Pullman, author of the much-beloved His Dark Materials series, has resigned as a patron of the Oxford Literary Festival due to the festival's practice of not paying its guest authors. This move comes only one week after Pullman and the Society of Authors released an open letter to The Publisher's Association and the Independent Publisher's Guild, demanding authors receive fair compensation for their work.
Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on "the nine-year plan," delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.