For most people, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is the beginning and end of mafia books, the sole notable entry in a sparse and little-known genre. That’s why it’s helpful that Roberto Dainotto, in The Guardian, published this list, which includes The Godfather, Eric Hobsbawm’s Primitive Rebels, and Alexander Stille’s Excellent Cadavers, among other picks.
Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin’s family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children’s books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer’s guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
Variety reports that Universal Pictures has purchased the film rights to Melissa Marr‘s YA fantasy novel Wicked Lovely. Edward Scissorhands screenwriter Caroline Thompson is to adapt the book about a young girl pursued by the king of the fairies. As far as king-of-the-fairies movies go, I’m more interested in what’s happened to the film adaption of Susanna Clarke‘s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, whose film rights were purchased in 2004.
Tom Jenks, co-founder of Narrative Magazine (which charges writers $23 to submit), is releasing a 400-page, six-chapter craft book on the art of imaginative fiction titled A Poetics of Fiction. The information inside the book is billed as “more than useful—it’s essential and not readily available anywhere else”—maybe that’s why it retails for $225.
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
Colum McCann can add the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the long list of accolades he has received for Let the Great World Spin. The book is a Millions Hall of Famer and our coverage of the title has been fairly extensive. Previously: Digging into the 2011 IMPAC Longlist, The Eclectic IMPAC Shortlist Has Arrived.