The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
Joshua Cohen, author of the recently published Book of Numbers, will begin writing a serialized, twentieth-century version of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers live and online next week. Beginning October 12 at 1pm, viewers can watch Cohen spend five days reimagining the book and will be able to offer criticism that may affect the ending.
Over at Bloom today, a sneak look at an excerpt from Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s The Sympathizer, featured this week on the cover of the NY Times Sunday Book Review and out April 7. Writes Philip Caputo, Nguyen “brings a distinct perspective” to the Vietnam War that “reaches beyond its historical context to illuminate more universal themes.”
In his review of a collection of rejected New Yorker covers titled Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See, Jeet Heer details the magazine’s history of straddling the divide between bourgeoisie complacency and bohemian angst.
“What those who care about books must appreciate is that the boundaries between canonical and noncanonical have never been ironclad in African-American literature.” Clark C. Cooke writes for the LA Review of Books on black crime fiction and the rise of a “new African-American literary scene.”