New this week: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Hermann Koch; I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin; The Book of Unknown Americans by Year in Reading alum Cristina Henríquez; In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds; The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh; The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Helen O’Neill; and two new books, Paper Lantern and Ecstatic Cahoots, by Stuart Dybek.
The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster — the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.
In addition to its overt references to Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow, HBO’s breakout hit, True Detective, seems also to draw from the work of a self-published poet named Dennis McHale. Or is it the other way around? (Bonus: Lincoln Michel drew up a reading list of southern gothic books similar in tone to the HBO series.)
Growing up in California, our own Michael Bourne didn’t have a full sense of his own privilege until 1981, when a chance encounter with a group of teenagers dressed up as skeletons woke him up to the realities of segregation in America. In a long essay for Orange Coast Review, he goes over the meaning of that incident, complete with meditations on Marin County, his abandoned early novel and his family’s history in Danville, Virginia. Pair with: Michael’s piece for The Millions on Tess Taylor’s The Forage House.
And now, a little bit about a world you might be totally unfamiliar with; this piece from The Rumpus is a fascinating, in-depth look at identity politics and eating pork in the Chinese borderlands. Bonus: a complementary piece about what it’s like to be a Chinese-American writer living in china.