“Biography, even those of intellectual figures, assumes a general reader, a reader who does not understand or want to understand the ideas of its subject. The biography of a philosopher magnifies this approach, turning its attention simply to the ‘significant events’ in the life of the philosopher.” Derrida: the impossible biography?
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne's Millions review.
New Vessel Press is a new publisher specializing in the translation of foreign literature into the English language. Translator Ross Uffberg and journalist Michael Z. Wise started it last year. Next month, they’ll publish their first book, The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal, and they have plans for quite a few more as well.
"But was I actually reading? I regarded myself as a reader, but were these really books?" In LitHub, James Tate Hill pens an essay about reading while visually impaired and the questions it raises in a print book obsessed world. Pair with: our own Bill Morris on hearing an actor narrate his novel's audiobook.
BOMB Magazine sits down with Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime and The Hundred-Year House. “People love to underrate plot, because it makes them sound like they’re beyond it, like plot is best left to Danielle Steele.“ For more Makkai, check out our interview with her.
Book Riot has compiled a list of Roxane Gay’s recommended reads via Twitter. Some of her choices include Citizen by Claudia Rankine, God Help the Child by Toni Morrison, and City on Fire by our own Garth Risk Hallberg. See more books Gay recommends in our Year in Reading column.