Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about “the evolution of the novel.”)
"The thriller, set in a dystopian future where women and girls can kill men with a single touch, was the favourite on a shortlist that included former winner Linda Grant and Man Booker-shortlisted Madeleine Thien." Naomi Alderman’s The Power has become the first speculative work to nab the Baileys prize for women’s fiction, reports The Guardian, noting that the judges said Alderman's book would be "a classic of the future." See also: a few years back we highlighted a collaboration between Alderman and Year in Reading alum Margaret Atwood, a comic zombie novel that you can still read in its entirety here.
Stephen King's next book is a thriller set in a Midwestern town suffering from unemployment. Before this sounds a little too close to home, the synopsis reveals it's about a retired cop trying to stop a mass murderer. Mr. Mercedes will be out June 3rd. Pair with: Our own Lydia Kiesling's essay on her love of King novels.
If you can’t sit through a 20-minute reading, this one’s for you. Even Dostoevsky hated literary readings. As his narrator puts it, “Generally I have observed that at a light, public literary reading, even the biggest genius cannot occupy the public with himself for more than 20 minutes with impunity.” Pair with this Millions essay on the lively and maybe lost art of the literary reading.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino's come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book's blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham's Millions essay on reading the classics.