British novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard has died at the age of 90. She was famous for The Cazalet Chronicles and her literary love affairs with Kingsley Amis (one of her three husbands), Cecil Day-Lewis, and Arthur Koestler. Despite that her writing career spanned 60 years, she admitted that she found writing frightening in a recent interview. “You’ve got to be pretty nervous about the challenge, the blank page – anything could be on it, it could be crap or it could be wonderful.”
In 2013, Mo Yan became China’s first resident Nobel Laureate in Literature, which prompted a huge swell of interest in his books in the West. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews Frog, his latest novel to get an English translation. Sample quote: “Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, says everything he needs to about the Cultural Revolution with a scene in which Tadpole and other schoolboys eat coal and claim to find it delicious.” You could also read Alan Levinovitz on modern Chinese literature.
“I couldn’t help but feel that technology had circled back to some of its earliest purposes: broadcasting anti-black violence as widely as possible, as both entertainment and warning.” Our own Ismail Muhammad writes for Real Life about the tension between bearing witness and perpetuating paradigms of white supremacy while on the web. And if you haven’t yet read it, do spend some time with this review of Nate Marshall‘s Wild Hundreds, which provides some fortification.
David Lodge never set out to be a writer of campus novels, but that may end up being his legacy, thanks to his most famous books, Changing Places and Small World. In the LRB, Stefan Collini reviews a new book of essays and an autobiography by the author, the latter of which covers the first forty years of his life.