Maya Angelou is a rapper now. The late writer’s poems have been layered with hip-hop beats for a new album, Caged Bird Songs. The album uses previous recordings of Angelou and a few made last year. “She saw (hip-hop) as this generation’s way of speaking and conveying a message,” her grandson Colin A. Johnson said. Pair with: Our tribute to Angelou.
It can be hard for critics to strike a balance between high theory and accessible prose. For James Wood, the key is to retain enough theoretical knowledge to come up with an insightful point, while still retaining the ability to write in a natural dialect. In The Guardian, he talks about his own relationship with books.
Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
Starting this year, Kirkus Reviews will award the impressive sum of $50,000 each to three winners of their new Kirkus Prize, which recognizes works of fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. This morning, they announced their first-ever batch of finalists, a long list including a few names who should be familiar to Millions readers: Elizabeth Kolbert (for The Sixth Extinction, which we published an essay about); Year in Reading alum Sarah Waters (for The Paying Guests); Thomas Piketty (for Capital in the 21st Century); New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast (for her memoir); and Siri Hustvedt (for The Blazing World, which we reviewed). Their judges will announce the winners on October 23rd.