Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
New this week are Ron Rash’s The Cove, Brian Evenson’s Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag’s Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.
Out this week: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud; The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang; My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent; To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann; and All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In The Atlantic Adrienne Green reviews the growing number of Young Adult novels tackling racial injustice and how this increase on the topic is no coincidence. “Coming out of the crucible of the past few years—during which young people have been integral to pushing conversations about the unjustified killings of black men to the forefront—the novels capture the many ways that teens of color cope with prejudice, whether through activism or personal accountability or protest.”
Equal parts voyeuristically indulgent and unapologetically stimulating, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books is the second installment in Yale University Press’s ongoing series, a journey into the personal libraries of thirteen favorite authors. This installment? Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Díaz, Rebecca Goldstein, and more.