In the wake of Jonathan Franzen's much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author's life to aid their understanding of a given work: " Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang."
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
“Percy’s victory set off a controversy that involved the most powerful man in publishing, a famous journalist eager to take credit for the award, and a cub reporter who would go on to become one of the most celebrated writers of our time.” Benjamin Hedin delves into the mysteries of a controversial award.