Frankenstein was originally a philosophical novel, Michael Saler reveals in his review of The Annotated Frankenstein. Mary Shelley used her monster to comment on the terrors of the French Revolution, patriarchy, social justice, and slavery, he writes.
“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith‘s remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether “multiculturalism” is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith’s latest novel, Swing Time, here.
Out this week: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi; Divorce Is in the Air by Gonzalo Torné; The Gentleman by Forrest Leo; Addlands by Tom Bullough; and Liberty Street by Dianne Warren. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half Book Preview.
We’ve been following the raging debate about diversity in the publishing industry, which recently re-triggered when BookExpo America released a speaker list of “29 white people and a cat” (as The Toast summed it up). The panel was rebalanced, but debate around the root issue continues: recent data indicates, for example, that while the US has become more diverse in population, the number of multicultural childrens’ books has remained flat under 10 percent for two decades. Follow the continuing debate on Twitter hashtags like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #DiverseCanLit, or look to this helpful round-up of blogs and articles at BookRiot.
At n+1, Nick Holdstock’s diary of International Pynchon Week, held in Lublin, Poland: “The conference room looked like the United Nations as depicted in ’60s spy movies … on the pad of the man to my left there were no notes, just a drawing of a cat wearing a shirt and tie.”
“Maybe Gnossos, had [Richard] Fariña lived long enough for a sequel, would have wound up on a commune in Canada, nibbling feta and blissed out on retsina, exhaling paregoric joints in some lush and fragrant garden … But he died in his twenties, like a lot of energetic young men of his era. It was the kind of romantic death we feel we understand almost too well, a promising talent suspended, that sense of exemption he wrote about—from mediocrity, from bourgeois compromise and midlife disappointment—a membrane forever intact.” On the enduring joys and exuberant voice of Richard Fariña’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.