Zadie Smith could write herself out of a Chinese takeout box, and that’s exactly what she does in her essay on the differences between British and American takeout culture, “Take It Or Leave It,” for The New Yorker. “I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture.”
Out this week: Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin; Abandon Me by Melissa Febos; Lower Ed by Tressie McMillan Cottom; Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; No Other World by Rahul Mehta; Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan; and To Be a Machine by our own Mark O’Connell (who we interviewed recently). For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Most actors don't go on The Tonight Show to promote literature, but leave it to James Franco to be the first to brag about getting his poetry M.F.A. to Jimmy Fallon. He discussed his new book, Directing Herbert White, and his mentor Frank Bidart. For more on the Bidart/Franco friendship, check out our own Janet Potter's recap of attending an event featuring the two writers.
"I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends." Go and check out this fascinating profile of Ben Rhodes, the "Boy Wonder of the Obama Whitehouse," who dropped out of his second year at NYU's M.F.A. program after witnessing the attacks on September 11th to take up a life of international affairs and foreign policy. When asked about whom he would choose write the story of his work life, Rhodes picked novelist Don DeLillo: "He is the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics. That’s his milieu. And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016."
Everyone's favorite scrappy San Fransisco literary web site, The Rumpus, has relaunched with a major redesign. Go over and poke around why don't you? If you're looking for a place to start, why not Roxane Gay's recent essay on the New York Times Book Review section's dismal numbers when it comes to reviewing books written by people of color?