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.
Jonathan Franzen spent the first half of his life thinking about literature, now he plans to devote the other half to birds. It looks like Freedom is becoming reality as he puts on his bird-watching binoculars again to discuss the “appalling” songbird hunting in the Mediterranean for National Geographic.
PEN World Voices, the great annual festival of International Literature, unveils this year's lineup for the week of April 26, in New York and elsewhere. Highlights include Norman Rush, Patti Smith, László Krasznahorkai, Rodrigo Frésan, and Sherman Alexie's "Freedom to Write" lecture.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an "unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
Hope everyone's holiday is going well. I'll be putting up one or two more "Year in Reading" posts and then The Millions will most likely be dark until the New Year. But first, a couple of links:One of my favorite end of year lists is the bookfinder.com "Top 10 out of print books": the main list and broken down into categories.Stephen King names his favorite reads of the year, including a forthcoming novel by A.M. Homes. His number one book, which he calls "the best mystery of the decade," is LBC pick, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.Millions Flashback: Tis the Season
Leslie Jamison and Francine Prose discuss the ways reading can affect your life for the worse, with potential results ranging from murder to being bad at sports.