The release date for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is three weeks away, and to mark the occasion, Boris Kachka runs through a quick biography of the perpetually mysterious author. Among other things, Kachka points out that Pynchon resides in a fairly odd neighborhood for a recluse to choose to live in — the Upper West Side. (Previously: “Thomas Pynchon to Publish New Novel” and “New Thomas Pynchon Teaser.”)
William Tyndale, one of the leading figures in the Protestant reform, was executed in 1536 for his translation of the Bible into English. Over at Asymptote Journal, Josh Billings considers the meaning of Tyndale’s death. As he explains it, “It happened in an era when translation was taken extremely seriously, not just because it allowed ordinary people to read the Bible in their own languages, but because it implied those languages were as capable of containing God’s Word as Latin, Greek or Hebrew.”
“A quick scan of the literature shows that the writerly gaze has been most often turned on male artists and their creative processes and passions.” Claire V Mullins aims to redirect this gaze with a list for Electric Literature of 11 novels about female artists, including Zadie Smith‘s latest, Swing Time, which we reviewed last year. Related: Elizabeth Silver on the rise of strong female characters and the death of the literary ingénue.
“Back in the 1800s, for instance, when white women began recording their family food traditions, they took credit for their slaves’ handiwork. ‘You owned Sally, you owned her recipe,’ Toni Tipton-Martin reflected on an episode of the podcast Gravy.” At Mother Jones, read about the secret history of black chefs in America.
It’s a big week for literary new releases. Chris Adrian’s much anticipated new novel The Great Night is now out, as is Francine Prose’s My New American Life. Also new this week are Roddy Doyle’s latest collection of stories, Bullfighting, and the reissue of William Boyd’s impish prank of a book, Nat Tate: An American Artist. Finally, past Booker shortlister Linda Grant has a new novel out called We Had It So Good.
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.