“Being a judge for the Man Booker prize has at times felt like being part of a team of archaeologists excavating some vast buried city. Once the dust has settled – after nine months of reading – you stand back to survey your labours and realise all that’s left is a small pile of gleaming fragments. I hadn’t expected the process to be quite so emotionally exhausting. Nor had I thought it would be quite so exhilarating.” In case you’re curious, a Man Booker Prize arbiter offers up his reflections on the judging process. See also: the shortlist itself, which has surprised many readers!
Got a crush on Draco Malfoy? J.K. Rowling is concerned. In a piece on her website, she writes: “I have often had cause to remark on how unnerved I have been by the number of girls who fell for this particular fictional character.” Pair with: our own Elizabeth Minkel on Rowling and other authors with second thoughts.
Word on the street is that Oprah’s new book club pick will be Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. So, last chance to get one before the Oprah logo goes on the front. We first wrote about Akpan when he appeared in the 2005 New Yorker debut fiction issue. Say You’re One of Them was also a “Most Anticipated” book in 2008.
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like “Problems in Modern Fiction”? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as “Introduction to Despair,” “Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car,” and “The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace.” Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.