Carve out some time to watch all forty-five minutes of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent “Between the Lines” conversation if you want to find out why Americanah qualifies as Adichie’s “fuck you” book. (You can also just skip to the 16:16 mark if you’re unable to carve out enough time.)
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”