In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
“I realized that there was something wrong with an arrangement whereby a relatively affluent person such as I had become could afford to write about minimum wage jobs, squirrels as an urban food source or the penalties for sleeping in parks, while the people who were actually experiencing these sorts of things, or were in danger of experiencing them, could not.” Barbara Ehrenreich on writing about poverty.
Terrible sex writing spans the globe according to this year’s Bad Sex Award shortlist. It includes: My Education by Susan Choi, The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood, House of Earth by Woody Guthrie, Motherland by William Nicholson, The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt, The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds, The City of Devi by Manil Suri, and Secrecy by Rupert Thomson. The winner will be announced on December 3.
Out this week: The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison; Prodigals by Greg Jackson; 99 Poems: New and Selected by Dana Gioia; Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett; Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves; and Slow Boat to China by Kim Chew Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Anthony Domestico interviews C. E. Morgan about her second novel, The Sport of Kings, one of the most anticipated books of 2016. As she puts it, “Every aspect of the novel is–or should be—an arrow pointed towards its ultimate meaning, or a multiplicity of possible meanings.”