Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s Crime and Punishment is getting the musical treatment, and though “it does not seem the most likely candidate to provide musical fun for all the family” for a long list of reasons – “heavy drinking, prostitution, a double axe murder and hours of psychological torment” – we’re already planning our trips to Moscow for the premier. This is also a good opportunity to revisit the debate over who’s greater, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy?
The devastating images of Syria shot by Franco Pagetti have been collected into a series entitled Veiled Aleppo. Over at The New Republic, Geoff Dyer writes about one of them. It’s an image, Dyer observes, that features “symbols … of the death throes not of a city but of film.”
Here's the perfect example of something you didn’t even know you wanted: Gary Oldman doing a dramatic reading from R. Kelly’s memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me. This performance will surely join the pantheon of great pop culture readings alongside Christopher Walken’s reading of Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” and John Lithgow’s reading of Newt Gingrich’s “florid” and “overwritten” press release.
New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters; My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner; Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson; On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; In the Red by Elena Mauli Shapiro; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
As you might have heard, the tenth annual Morning News Tournament of Books will commence this Thursday, and to kick things off, the site held a pre-Tournament playoff round. In it, Lev Grossman and David Gutowski (aka Largehearted Boy) try to predict what Geraldine Brooks will choose as her novel of the year. (Our own Lydia Kiesling takes part on the 18th.)
"Writing isn’t entirely mental. You’re a physical being, and sometimes when your writing is broken, it’s your body that needs attention, not your mind.” Rebecca Makkai has some tips for breaking writer's block and a very cool perspective on writing as a whole person. Pair with our interview with Makkai about her latest novel, The Hundred-Year House.
Believe it or not, Fifty Shades of Grey was still the bestselling book of 2015. For a fascinating, in-depth look at what sold and what didn’t, head over to The Guardian. The disconnect between the retail top ten and the myriad year-end lists alone is worth the look.