Though major publications like The New York Times are still questioning the importance and power of female essayists, Lucy Scholes argues that women are producing “some of the best writing today” and as proof lists several of the best recent essay collections by women in a piece for The Daily Beast. Incidentally, that list includes titles such as The Empathy Exams and The Opposite of Loneliness, both of which were reviewed for The Millions (here and here, respectively).
"As time passed, I realized the Philip Roth I’d known before the two documentaries we ended up doing was in the process of transformation. The Roth I’d known for many years was an obsessively committed writer who, in the terrifying limbo between one book and another, could fall victim to a storm of depression or be spent to the point of looking as if his blood had been drained from his veins... This Philip Roth seemed to be discovering new, unexpected pleasures in life, like spending time in bed reading in the morning or inviting friends to his home to share with him the meals prepared each night by his newly hired, young and lovely cook." Livia Manera Sambuy writes about her friendship with Philip Roth for The Believer. Pair with Gabriel Roth's recent guide to "everything you need to know" about the elder Roth's oeuvre.
Kundiman, an organization dedicated to “the creation and cultivation of Asian American poetry,” is now accepting submissions for its annual Kundiman Poetry Prize. One winner will receive $1,000, book publication with Alice James Books, and a featured reading in New York City. The deadline is March 1, 2013.
In the mid-90s, David Foster Wallace published a scathing review of a John Updike novel, Toward the End of Time, that became a key text for critics of the celebrated author. Now, at The New Republic, David Baddiel argues that Updike gets a bad rap, while Jeffrey Meyers backs up DFW’s position. It might also be a good time to read James Santel’s review of Updike's Collected Stories.
Carve out some time to watch all forty-five minutes of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent “Between the Lines” conversation if you want to find out why Americanah qualifies as Adichie’s “fuck you” book. (You can also just skip to the 16:16 mark if you’re unable to carve out enough time.)
"Among their other contributions to American life are words that some of the Beats marshaled on behalf of wild places. Kerouac, inspired by Snyder’s rapture about a summer spent in the clouds, followed him as a lookout to an area that eventually became North Cascades National Park in Washington State." Over at The New York Times, Timothy Egan takes a look at poetry's long, linked history with our national parks.
Ebony has a brief list of “Six Caribbean Writers to Discover This Summer,” and it’s a nice complement to Fortnightly Review’s recent double-feature on Dominican poets Homero Pumarol and Frank Báez. I also recommend checking out Generación Año Cero, an online collection of sixteen short stories from a “movement of [Cuban] writers who began publishing in 2000.”