In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.
"Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?" Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
According to some new research conducted by ebook retailer Kobo, the digital reading revolution (if it still exists) is being powered by prolific readers who are primarily female and older than forty-five. The study asserts that women make up almost seventy-five percent of "active" e-readers, defined as those who spend more than thirty minutes per day reading. What does all of this mean? Who knows, but keep reading.
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it "makes people uncomfortable." The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association's "Frequently Challenged Book" list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.
Penny Perkins interviews Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty author Ramona Ausubel at The Rumpus. “I realized that this book I was writing about money had to be about race and it had to be about class and it had to be about privilege, and which of those things we are able to see and which we are blind to.” Pair with Ausubel’s writing at The Millions.
Neurotic writers or friends-of-writers are likely to have asked themselves an uncomfortable question: do the writers I know use my foibles for material? At The New Statesman, Oliver Farry lists a number of proofs that they do, citing Dante’s Inferno, Madame Bovary and Beckett’s debut novel Murphy.