Following its interview with Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Bookforum published its review of the author’s debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase. As in many other books that take place in the post-Cold War age, the plot centers on a group of Ukrainian immigrants, fresh out of the former Soviet Union, who set up new lives in America. However, despite the subject matter, it’s a bit too reductive, Chloé Cooper-Jones writes, to classify the book as an immigrant novel. For more on the book, read Matthew Wolfson’s Millions review.
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
One in ten residents of Iceland will publish something in their lifetime. (Compare that to the United States.) And all residents receive the bókatíðindi – a volume listing approximately 90% of all books being published in Iceland – free of charge. Indeed, as Mark Medley notes, when it comes to literary ambitions, the Land of Fire and Ice is “punching above its weight class.”
Could it be for the best that Lisbeth Salander outlived her creator? Do writers own the rights to their own superstar characters, or do the rights belong to the readers? These questions and more are explored in a fascinating essay from The Atlantic. Here’s a Millions piece in which Pippi Longstocking is touted as Salander’s literary forebear.
Not everyone is a fan of Haruki Murakami’s latest short story, “Drive My Car.” Residents of Nakatonbetsu, Japan claim Murakami sullied its reputation when he suggested that residents throw cigarettes from car windows. The offending passage reads: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does,” a character thinks when he tosses his lit cigarette out. Hopefully, the smoke clears soon.