Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature’s Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. “I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world,” she said. The winners are Andrew Winer’s review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe’s review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green’s Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
At Page-Turner, Willing Davidson interviews Karen Russell, the newly minted MacArthur Genius, Swamplandia! author and 20 Under 40 alum. The conclusion this writer came to after reading their back-and-forth? The phrases “luck lightning” and “King Doomsday” need to be used more often. (FYI, we published our own interview with Russell back in February.)
You may have read Darcey Steinke’s Year in Reading piece, or perhaps one of her articles here at The Millions. Or else you might have read — or at least heard about — her recent novel, Sister Golden Hair. Either way, you should read this interview at The Rumpus, in which she talks about Virginia, femininity and books that have too much plot.
“Morality… is a slippery slope and nowhere more, perhaps, than in regard to art, to literature, which begins as the expression of a single heart, a single mind. That it becomes more than that — connective, the fiber of a conversation between writer and reader, and between both of them and the world — is not just the point but the miracle… To frame this miracle in moral terms is to misread what art extends to us: a way of joining, for a moment only, across the void.” In an article for the LA Times, David L. Ulin considers the implications of the George V. Hunt, SJ Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts and Letters, which will award $25,000 to a writer “of sound moral character and reputation [who] must not have published works that are manifestly atheistically or morally offensive.”
Annalee Newitz asks “What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?“
“I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong.” Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of “Writing About Other People” and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.