Congratulations to our longtime staff writer and contributing editor Garth Risk Hallberg, whose large first novel, City on Fire, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf.
2010 is soon to be over. That means that The Morning News Tournament of Books is almost upon us. Two excellent developments this year: 1) the folks behind the Rooster have released the longlist of titles under consideration to make the final 16 (including The Singer’s Gun by our own Emily St. John Mandel) and 2) they have left one judging spot open that you (you!) can apply to fill.
The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas made headlines when it acquired the David Foster Wallace archives. Now it’s added another high profile author to its collection: J. M. Coetzee.
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
The luck of the Irish is undoubtedly with Poetry Magazine this month in conjunction with the publication of their special Irish issue. In it, twenty-five Irish poets from Caitriona O’Reilly to Declan Ryan showcase some of the best of what the Emerald Isle has to offer; here is Patrick Cotter introducing the book for The Irish Times.
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.”
The average book tour is filled with indignities, but none may be worse than getting kicked out of a cheap motel, which is exactly what happened to our own Bill Morris on the tour for his latest novel. At The Daily Beast, he recounts the unfortunate events that led to him getting booted from a Motel 6. You could also read his essay on listening to the audiobook of his own novel while on tour.