“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
A new Margaret Atwood novel is out this week, as is a new book by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee. Also out: The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell, At the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick and Duplex by Kathryn Davis. For more on these and other upcoming releases, check out our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.
Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and online community celebrating “the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood,” has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its inaugural writers’ conference and festival. Past WRBG book club guests include Year in Reading alums Jacqueline Woodson and Angela Flournoy, whom we also interviewed about her debut novel The Turner House.
James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. “Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn’t need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do.” For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
Here’s some rare footage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera hanging out with Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova in 1938. Here’s an awesome quote from Kahlo: “I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” And finally, here’s a picture of Frida that’s even more awesome than both of those things.