“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.
Phillip Pullman, author of the much-beloved His Dark Materials series, has resigned as a patron of the Oxford Literary Festival due to the festival’s practice of not paying its guest authors. This move comes only one week after Pullman and the Society of Authors released an open letter to The Publisher’s Association and the Independent Publisher’s Guild, demanding authors receive fair compensation for their work.
Out this week: The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch; The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes; The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich; Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont; Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs; The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock; Speak by Louisa Hall; The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer; The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak; Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell; You Don’t Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits; French Concession by Xiao Bai; The Captive Condition by Kevin P. Keating; and the paperback edition of our own Edan Lepucki’s California. For more on these and other new titles, check out our latest book preview.
Nikil Saval isn’t the only n +1 editor with a new book out. Through his magazine’s publishing arm, cofounder Benjamin Kunkel is releasing a play, Buzz, which comes on the heels of last month’s Utopia or Bust. At Full Stop, William Harris reviews Buzz, calling it “the type of play that propels itself by introducing the indefinite edges of a mystery.” It may also be a good time to read Kunkel’s Year in Reading entry.
“Most poems are rooted in a powerful emotion. With visuals and details of violence against women being flashed every second on TV and debated by different groups, it is only natural that such incidents become themes in our writing,” says Bindya Subba, who is one of several Indian poets writing response pieces to the recent rape incidents in Delhi and Mumbai.
“How is the life of a creative person—an artist, a designer, a composer—related to his or her work?” The New Yorker lists 7 archived pieces by way of answer.
Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”