Want to get your book published? Move to Iceland. One in ten Icelanders will become published authors, which isn’t a big surprise because the country has a 99 percent literacy rate. Pair with: our essay on Icelandic writer Sjón.
Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief is out this week, as is Karen Russell’s e-book novella Sleep Donation. Also out: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Falling Out of Time by David Grossman; Bad Teeth by Dustin Long; The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson; and The Space Between Us by Zoya Pirzad.
What happens when two magazine writers publish stories on the same topic within a month of each other? We get to read some of the best long-form journalism of the year. Both Esquire's Chris Jones and The Washingtonian's Garrett M. Graff wrote about what it was like to be on Air Force One after the Kennedy assassination. Jones' "The Flight From Dallas" hits 7,600 words, but Graff's "Angel is Airborne" totals 18,000. Save some time to read both because they're equally gripping and uniquely told narratives.
Zachary Lazar talks to Mary Jo Bang about her radical translation of Dante's Inferno: in an attempt to render the shock Dante caused by writing in conversational Italian rather than the conventional Latin, Bang translated Dante's text in modern-day English adorned with references to American pop culture. A sample of the text is available online.
“I never thought of myself as an outsider. Because outside of what? You would have to give advantage to this space where you’re not, to think of it as sovereign because you’re not there. I was always in the center of where I needed to be.” Aleksander Hemon on writing his new book.
Out this week: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis; A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett; Ballroom by Alice Simpson; Hello Mr. Bones & Goodbye Mr. Rat by Patrick McCabe; Rooms by Lauren Oliver; and How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, who released an essay collection two years ago. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
When John Steinbeck wasn't busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. "The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages," he wrote to an agent.