“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.
“Home is the place where there is someone who does not wish you any pain.” Stop what you’re doing and go read this interview with Darryl Pinckney, author of Black Deutschland, over at The Rumpus. Here’s a great Millions essay on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, which serves as a sort of (misguided) guide map for the protagonist of Black Deutschland.
On Thursday, the fiction writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which marks the first time a Chinese writer has won the prestigious award. Lauded for his command of “hallucinatory realism,” Yan (whose pen name translates to “not talking” in Mandarin) has drawn comparisons to Faulkner for the complexity of his fictional settings. Back in 2005, John Updike published his thoughts on the writer.
Darryl Campbell has had enough of the clichés abundant in book reviews so he’s devised some alternatives. “If fine artists aren’t your thing,” Campbell writes, “then maybe American presidents might be a better comparison: ‘Taft-like excess,’ ‘Cleveland-esque genre-bending’ or ‘Clintonian eroticism’.”