You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
Recommended Reading: Oliver Burkeman on a new group of optimistic thinkers.
Among the books hitting shelves this week are Pulitzer winner and New Yorker staffer Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University and memoirist and poet Nick Flynn's The Ticking is the Bomb. Also new, Melville House is putting out a novella, Union Jack, by Nobel laureate Imre Kertész, and NYRB Classics has published Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy a novel by Olivia Manning based on her time in Eastern Europe during World War II. Rachel Cusk provides an introduction to the edition.
In a piece for Public Books Rebecca Steinitz reviews some recent historical novels, including The Luminaries and The Invention of Wings, and argues that the best historical fiction "plunges the reader wholly into the past, enlightening and entertaining us, while also making us reflect on our present, in history and in literature." Pair her piece with Laila Lalami's account of "How History Becomes Story."
"Imagination for me has always been about the spaces in between, a sort of filler that completes a picture. If what we know is the jaggedness of the ocean floor, then imagination is the body of water that defines what is hidden and what is seen." This essay on interstices and representing Hawai'i Creole English as a legitimate literary participant is excellent.
Out this week: The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman; Charleston by Margaret Bradham Thornton; Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya; The Home Place by Carrie La Seur; Lucky Us by Amy Bloom; and Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (which I wrote about for our Great 2014 Book Preview).