In the latest entry in By Heart, which I’ve written about before, Thirty Girls author Susan Minot explains why she prefers to read multiple books at once instead of reading through single books from start to finish. Her reasoning? Books are “worlds to dip in and out of, and my relationship to them is continually deepening and evolving.”
“The idea that a 'book of the year' can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O'Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
“[Christa] Wolf was a committed dissident in the GDR (East Germany) and a forceful voice resisting Western triumphalism after reunification. It would seem like some sort of explanation was owed to the public. Yet how does one give an account of oneself when the link to the past, to the psychological and cultural backdrop of such fateful decisions, is not even subjectively available?” On City of Angels: Or, the Overcoat of Dr. Freud.
It’s rare that Warren G. Harding gets much attention these days, which is why it’s all the more interesting that Sadie Stein’s father, when she was growing up, grew fascinated with the single-term president. At the Paris Review Daily, she recounts her family's visit to Harding's home.
“By running two lives that started from the same point off along divergent tracks, they throw up questions about our uniqueness, and the chances and choices that make us who we are.” On identical twins in literature, from Stephen King to Shakespeare. Also check out Ramona Ausubel’s essay on first children and first novels.
Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient won the Golden Man Booker Prize, the one-off award celebrating the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize. About the prize, Ondaatje said "I wish in fact that those of us on this Man Booker list had been invited to propose and speak about what we felt were the overlooked classics—in order to enlarge what ought to be read, as opposed to relying on the usual suspects." Read the rest of his illuminating and gracious speech over at Literary Hub.