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.
A designer from Copenhagen, Philipp Meyer (not the novelist), has created the first comic book for the blind. “Most of the tactile material that is available for blind people is very information dense. It’s always about information and not often about art,” he says.
According to Steve Denning at Forbes, “the U.S. has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products.” He says the U.S. will never be able to manufacture a Kindle on its own soil. But if the environmental cost of producing just one e-reader, as VQR‘s Ted Genoways says, is “roughly the same as fifty books,” why would anyone want to?
Out this week: Sweetland by Michael Crummey; Glow by Ned Beauman; Frog by the Nobel laureate Mo Yan; Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski; A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor; Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera; Black River by S.M. Hulse; Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper; My Father’s Wives by the ESPN host Mike Greenberg; and Mobile Library by David Whitehouse. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
Susannah Hunnewell interviews Michel Houellebecq, France’s controversial literary icon, for The Paris Review’s “The Art of Fiction” series: “There is a need for intensity. From time to time, you have to forsake harmony. You even have to forsake truth. You have to, when you need to, energetically embrace excessive things.”
“But even among its peers, Louie is an outlier. It is a show that, more than any other, both caters to this new kind of audience — the Laptop Loners — and has, as its creator, a member of the club…we are living in the iGeneration, in which the self is projected back toward the world via social media. But whereas many Americans weave their public personas from curated chains of cultural signifiers — think of the popular web platform tumblr, where users ‘express themselves’ by posting digital reproductions of existing images — [Louis] C.K. aims for something more penetrating, a filmic representation of his own psyche,” claims the Los Angeles Review of Books.