In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
Over the past fifteen years, Mohsin Hamid has moved from New York, to London, and to Lahore, Pakistan, with stints in Italy and Greece. His new book, which came out yesterday, is a series of essays about his odyssey across the world, chronicling his observations and experiences that led him to move. At Bookforum, a review by Jake Lamar.
“Most of all, they don’t tell you that fear, to reverse a phrase from C. S. Lewis, will feel so like grief, and so you begin to mourn what you have not yet lost, because mourning prematurely is the only way to protect yourself from hope.” For Catapult, Laura Turner writes about her trio of miscarriages and the hope she lost (and found) along the way. (Turner is a 2017 Year in Reading alum).
The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Ice Trilogy author Vladimir Sorokin looks at the current events related to Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea, and notes that “the Russian state’s ‘vertical power’ structure” (which is to say “monarchical structure”) is what keeps the Russian people held “hostage to the psychosomatic quirks of its leader.”
Recommended reading: Alex Beam on the distinction between books and “books.”
You may have heard that Noah Berlatsky wrote a book about the early days of Wonder Woman. The book explores gender dynamics in Wonder Woman comics from the forties. At The Rumpus, Berlatsky talks with Arielle Bernstein about early comics, radical politics and the mind of William Marston.