Kyle Minor previews five soon-to-press books that you probably haven’t heard about, but might want to check out.
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
Out this week: Some Luck by Jane Smiley; Reunion by Hannah Pittard; The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; Man V. Nature by Diane Cook; The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron; The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth; The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane; There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme; Citizen by Claudia Rankine; and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: Delaney Nolan’s recent piece in Guernica, “How I Gonna Bare My Neck Outside in the Sweat-Scared Morning.”
A lot of women feel a connection to Cheryl Strayed, but one reader’s connection was personal. Strayed’s lost half-sister found her when she just happened to check out Wild because she liked travel narratives. “She didn’t know anything about me except when she read the description in my book of my early life, my mother and my father, she knew that father was hers, too. I don’t name my father in the book but she recognized him,” Strayed told NPR.
In April’s Atlantic, Joseph O’Neill tries to separate Philip Roth from his perpetual themes of family, Newark, and Judaism, and from his many authorial personae. The task proves unmanageable, but the attempt sheds light on the man destined to become Roth’s greatest critic: Roth himself.
In TNR, Ruth Franklin attempts to debunk the “strangely antiquated definition of American writing” posited in Dalkey’s Best European Fiction anthology. (via)
B|ta’arof – which launched last year – announced a new poetry series featuring translations of “contemporary poems written in Persian and translated into English by emerging poets and scholars in the Iranian diaspora.” The translations will be accompanied by brief interviews with the translators, each consisting of the same five questions. “The idea,” according to the mission statement, “is to pull back the curtain on the process of translation, revealing how it is subject to individual choices and proclivities—the first choice being what poem to even translate.”