In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
When The New York Times tried to ask Jhumpa Lahiri what immigrant fiction inspired her, she smacked the question down by saying there is no such thing as immigrant fiction. “If certain books are to be termed immigrant fiction, what do we call the rest? Native fiction? Puritan fiction? This distinction doesn’t agree with me. Given the history of the United States, all American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction.”
Aspiring writers who’ve long dreamed of critical acclaim will no doubt be slightly miffed at Tana French’s admission that her writing “happened by accident.” As the former actress explains to The Guardian, writing In the Woods was a subconscious, almost involuntary experience: “I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter.”
In his 2015 Year in Reading, Garth Risk Hallberg told us about Max Porter’s Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, a quasi-poem/novel/memoir which “you will quickly forget is weird as hell, because it is also beautiful as hell, moving as hell, and funny as hell.” Though the book isn’t slated for stateside release for another few months, there is a fantastic review over at the London Review of Books that’s well worth the read.