When Damien Searls first read W.G. Sebald, he thought the German writer was uniquely good at factoring historical circumstance into his thinking. Sebald’s unyielding reminders of the horrors of the past were a nice corrective to the feel-good pablums of the ‘90s. But reading Sebald now, Searls thinks something has changed. What happened? The world went online. (Related: Greg Walklin on Sebald’s A Place in the Country.)
“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.
J. K. Rowling has confirmed that her new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be a trilogy. She’s also writing about Native American wizards on Pottermore, which, as our own Elizabeth Minkel has pointed out, has been controversial. It’s a good time to revisit our piece on J.K. Rowling’s second thoughts.
The New York Public Library announced their eighteenth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, which is “given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories.” The 2018 finalists are: Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Venita Blackburn‘s Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Gabe Habash‘s Stephen Florida, Emily Ruskovich‘s Idaho, and Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart. From our archives: Habash and Zhang‘s 2017 Year in Reading entries.