For Perry Link, it was embarrassing to read Eileen Chang for the first time, because her work revealed things about China it took him too long to learn on his own. In The New York Review of Books, he writes about how Naked Earth, which the magazine’s publishing arm is republishing in June, cut through the jargon of Chairman Mao’s regime. FYI, Jamie Fisher wrote an essay on the book for The Millions.
The North Carolina Literary Festival just announced its lineup for the 2014 engagement, and it’s stocked with Millions favorites. Among others: Junot Díaz, Scott McClanahan, Richard Ford, Ben Fountain, and William T. Vollmann. The festival will take place in Raleigh from April 3rd through April 6th.
Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Need to know how to tell if someone is or is not dead? How to leave a party gracefully? How to avoid the plague? Luckily the writers of the Middle Ages had a how-to book for everything, even if that advice does include killing bed bugs by “Spread[ing] Gun-powder, beaten small, about the crevices of your bedstead” and then lighting it.
“Per one estimate, 96 of the 154 sonnets credited to Shakespeare contain rhymes that have since been lost to linguistic history.” The Atlantic writes on why we should be laughing more when we read Shakespeare. If you’d prefer to revere him, here’s a piece on Shakespeare as God.