Recommended Reading: Lydia Davis’s new short story, “Old Men Around Town,” in the New Statesman. “He stops to tell us that he must be up early in the morning – to get down to the factory. The factory is gone, his men are gone, but he still seems to be in charge of something.” For more Davis, check out her new collection.
“The specter of the confessional haunts all first-person writing, and women’s writing in particular,” but perhaps “the instinct to insert [the self] comes from a place of saying, ‘I’m not an expert, I’m just a person; let me show you where I’m situated here in this thing I’m telling you about.'” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Meghan Daum, Lena Dunham, Leslie Jamison and the confessional impulse in nonfiction for Salon.
Out this week: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo; Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty; Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin; The Surveyors by Mary Jo Salter; and The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Does reading a novel for a few hours make you feel smarter? You’re not alone: a new study suggests that reading novels heightens activity in the left temporal cortex, also known as the part of the brain associated with receptivity to language. The best part? The changes last for five days.
Mozambican author Mia Couto has won the 2014 Neustadt Prize. The prize, which awards the recipient $50,000 and is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, recognizes exceptional fiction writers, poets and playwrights from around the world. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto.