Ever since Pulphead, we can’t get enough of John Jeremiah Sullivan, so we’re happy to hear he’s at work on his next book, The Prime Minister of Paradise. Sullivan will tell the story of Christian Priber, a German American who tried to establish a utopia in 18th century South Carolina. “This man, he really represented the height of the enlightenment at the time,” Sullivan said during a recent interview at Notre Dame. No word on an official release date yet, but it’s already being optioned for film by Scott Rudin.
“A couple of years ago I attended a British Council discussion about the state of contemporary writing and the creative future in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. When someone brought up the dearth of memoirs in the Nigerian literary landscape, almost everyone in the room laughed ruefully. Someone joked aloud, ‘We can’t write memoirs. We’d have to wait for parents to die. Not just parents – everyone who knows us, even!’ This concern is not limited to nonfiction.” Bim Adewunmi writes for BuzzFeed on African immigrants’ stories.
The Orient Express began service on this day in 1883—Paris to Istanbul in 83.5 hours. Agatha Christie may be the most famous writer to have capitalized on the train’s romantic allure, but the list of books begins decades before her (Dracula, for example) and goes for decades after.
Ilan Stavans’s introduction to the quadricentennial edition of Don Quixote is available on the Literary Hub website. As he explains it, the narrative is both baffling and perfect: “What I like most about Don Quixote is its imperfection. I wasn’t wrong in my teens about the sloppiness of the writing; it is just that my attitude was too pedantic. It is, unquestionably, a defective narrative. Cervantes is often criticized as a numb and careless stylist.”
Momina Mela writes on the gendered misconceptions about confessional poetry. As she puts it, “In comparison to female confessional poets, male confessional poetry has been regarded with less ridicule as accusations of being merely therapeutic. This is often due to the detachment which occurs with the adoption of personas, even though female poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and even Sharon Olds integrate the use of personas in their work as well.” Also check out this Millions essay on the poetry of mental unhealth.