One of the surprises of last week’s James Beard Awards was the runaway success of McSweeney’s offshoot Lucky Peach, which ended up taking home five out of seventeen awards. On John Birdsall’s Tumblr, you can read one of the winning essays, which bears the attention-grabbing title of “America, Your Food Is So Gay.” (Related: Jessica Ferri on food writing.)
In 1945 and 1946, the FBI began keeping tabs on Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Cold War was just around the corner, and the Bureau suspected their new targets were secretly agents of Communism. However, FBI agents who followed the French writers evolved in the course of their spying: they became, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, “philosophical policemen.” (h/t Slate)
"Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself." Electric Literature's Jason Diamond argues 2014 was "The Year of the Essay," and when we think over the collections published this year - The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others - it's hard to disagree.
Here is Amitav Ghosh in conversation with Michael Berkeley for the BBC Radio3 broadcast about his new novel, Flood of Fire. In the interview, Ghosh talks about his childhood by the water and the influence of the sea on his work. He also curates a playlist of influential music that ranges from Bengali boat songs to Phillip Glass to ‘Hindoo airs.’