To mark the 100th anniversary of Swann’s Way, the Times published a series of blog posts on the legacy of In Search of Lost Time. Among other things, it includes a reflection by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik.
New this week is Monica Ali's "what if" novel about Princess Diana, Untold Story. Also out is Bright's Passage, an effort, which readers appear to be taking seriously, by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter to cross over into literary fiction. Finally, short story master Bobbie Ann Mason has a new novel out, The Girl in the Blue Beret.
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. "At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
Tom Wolfe has a chance to defend (er, ward off?) his 2004 "Bad Sex Award" following Literary Review's decision to nominate him for this year's top honors (er, dishonors?). The UK publication has tapped Back to Blood and seven others for this year's shortlist -- and, despite popular demand, they managed to spare J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. For some revealing passages from Wolfe's book, check out my review.
"Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison." Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump's presidency. "My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea," writes Altman, "and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best."
How can science fiction writers invent aliens and entire planets but not include multifaceted characters of color in their fiction? At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky discusses the genre's equality problem and analyzes how race is viewed in everything from The Left Hand of Darkness to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. "When that future unthinkingly reproduces current inequities, it seems like both a missed opportunity and a failure of imagination."