In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.
“By casting my book as personal rather than professional—by marketing me as a woman on a journey of self-discovery, rather than a reporter on a groundbreaking assignment—I was effectively being stripped of my expertise on the subject I knew best.” Suki Kim on writing a work of investigative journalism that was miscategorized as memoir. Pair with this Millions piece in defense of memoirs.
The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year’s finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin‘s Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado‘s Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent‘s My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin’s 2017 Year in Reading entry.
“Everyone was compared to García Márquez or Fuentes once upon a time. Now it’s Bolaño or Vila-Matas (best case scenario). I am not sure what the reason for this is. There are many possible explanations. One may be that Latin America is still conceived by many as a kind of remote, torrid zone, an isolated and disconnected region of the world. So the only possible references associated with younger writers are the better-known older ones, always writing within the same language.” Over at The White Review, Stephen Sparks interviews Valeria Luiselli about Latin American criticism and borrowing from the past. Also check out Lily Meyer’s Millions review of Luiselli’s new novel, The Story of My Teeth.
Not-so-breaking news: Books are the best way to store information. CDs, flash memory, hard drives, and other digital storage devices aren’t nearly as durable as good old fashioned paper. So the next time someone says you have too many books, just say it’s your attempt at immortality.