Nobel laureate Doris Lessing passed away last night at the age of 94. The author of The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child and The Golden Notebook took home the Nobel in 2007 for “subjecting a divided civilisation to scrutiny,” in the words of the prize committee.
Those of you with brothers or sisters will not be surprised to learn that siblings who are both writers tend to be a wee bit competitive. In a piece for the Poetry Foundation, Casey N. Cep runs through a few famous examples, among them the Bröntes, the Wordsworths and Charles and Mary Lamb. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
"The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
Martin Amis' The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, "remarkably tedious" but The Guardian adds, "Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani's literary victims.") Also out, Sebastian Junger's War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
Recommended Reading: An excerpt from Jesmyn Ward's new memoir, Men We Reaped. "This is the summer of the year 2000. This is the last summer that I will spend with my brother. This is the heart. This is. Every day, this is." Pair with: The New York Times profile of Ward.