Recommended Reading: Chris Jones went to Antarctica, and on the way he started believing in ghosts.
“In Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mozambique, it’s the real thing, not magic, and the only way to tell these stories.” Man Booker International Prize finalist Mia Couto discusses the label “magic realism,” the death of Cecil the lion, his new novel Confession of the Lioness – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and post-civil war Mozambique. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto’s fiction.
"[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place." Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
“We have a customer who eats Bibles. She’s very nice, but she will walk up to a section, rip out a page, and eat it. She much prefers Catholic versions—she won’t touch King James Bibles.” This interview with the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston illustrates the peculiar idiosyncrasies of daily bookstore life. For all you romantics out there, here is a love letter to the brick-and-mortar bookstore.
"A quick scan of the literature shows that the writerly gaze has been most often turned on male artists and their creative processes and passions." Claire V Mullins aims to redirect this gaze with a list for Electric Literature of 11 novels about female artists, including Zadie Smith's latest, Swing Time, which we reviewed last year. Related: Elizabeth Silver on the rise of strong female characters and the death of the literary ingénue.
At Bookforum, Rebecca Donner talks with former Granta editor John Freeman about his new book of interviews, How to Read a Novelist. Freeman says that he enjoys interviewing writers in their homes because it allows him to observe them more closely: “The writer thinks you're taking notes about what he's saying, but you're really writing, ‘His head looks like a lion's head.’”