Ever since the Man Booker prize was opened up to American writers, there’s been a renewed debate about America’s contributions to the literary scene. Many people have wondered who past Bookers would have gone to had American authors been eligible. At The Guardian, a roundtable including Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris, Curtis Sittenfeld, Edna O’Brien and Martin Amis pick American books they think would have won if they’d had the chance. You could also read Joanna Scutts on the history of the prize, or check out the most recent Booker shortlist.
Clare Beams reflects on her impressions of Little Women as a child and an adult at Ploughshares. A piece of her essay: “Of course, none of the real Alcott sisters could have fit into the spaces Little Women carved out for them. No real person could…. Real-life girls are messes of contradiction.” You could also read Deena Drewis’s essay on the perception of women’s writing and gender bias in publishing.
“Grief doesn’t only disturb life; it disturbs the way we talk about life. As myriad aspects of our existence are questioned and reexamined in the wake of a death, so too is our relationship with the language we rely on for our grief’s expression.” This track-by-track take on Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell from The Rumpus is really just a magnificent, emotive piece on elegy.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”