In a piece for Public Books Rebecca Steinitz reviews some recent historical novels, including The Luminaries and The Invention of Wings, and argues that the best historical fiction “plunges the reader wholly into the past, enlightening and entertaining us, while also making us reflect on our present, in history and in literature.” Pair her piece with Laila Lalami‘s account of “How History Becomes Story.”
“Idea #2: Book opens to reveal it is hollow, contains one medium-sized onion. Review: ‘Multilayered… had me in tears.'” How to write a first novel that gets praised in the New York Times.
“He combed through the sahaflar, the second-hand bookshops that line the streets around the Grand Bazaar, their dusty wares stacked on haphazard tables. He sat by the New Mosque, drinking tea out of tulip-shaped cups, playing backgammon, and watching the fishermen’s wooden boats launch into the dirty waters of the Golden Horn.” For Public Books, Suzy Hansen writes about James Baldwin‘s less-well-documented time in Istanbul. Pair with this piece from our pages about the famed author, race, and fatherhood.
Most of our discussions about changing the canon revolve around adding onetime marginalized writers. But there’s a flipside to this — who do we need to eject? In a Bookends column for the Times, James Parker and Francine Prose pick greats that are no longer great.
“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.