What’s the best book of the 21st century? To date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao seems to be the favorite – the BBC polled a few dozen US critics and Junot Diaz‘s novel came in first place. The full list is available from The Guardian, and includes Zadie Smith‘s White Teeth and Michael Chabon‘s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, both of which appeared alongside Oscar Wao in our own “Best of the Millennium” list a few years ago.
“The Books of Magic makes The Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, Harry Potter, and even Twilight all look like entries in the same broad genre of tween-superhero fantasy, in which someone insignificant gets mighty powers, fights the forces of evil, and ultimately triumphs. …The pop culture landscape starts to look like an endless row of Tim Hunters, the same successful formula applied again and again.” From The Atlantic, a look at how Neil Gaiman‘s The Books of Magic prefigured the runaway success of Harry Potter and the modern YA fantasy-adventure craze.
As part of the ongoing Miami Book Fair International festivities, WLRN is giving readers a chance to co-author a story with Junot Díaz. Beginning at 5pm today, they will tweet out the first line to a story—provided by Díaz—from their Twitter account. Then readers will use the hashtag “#WLRNStory” to add onto Díaz’s line, and later each other’s lines, and ultimately the entire thing will unfurl before them.
Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts.” Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
Recommended Reading: This unsettling, important essay by Kira Jane Buxton at The Rumpus: “He starts to move with a slow hiss. This is his place, his world, and so when he walks he does it slowly, time in his pockets. He keeps his eyes on me, keeps me in my place in his world. I can’t hold the fear back for much longer, the bridle is snapping.”
Gigantic’s going intergalactic with Gigantic Worlds, the lit journal’s first venture into book territory, in the form of a sci-fi flash fiction anthology. Authors include Jonathan Lethem, Lynne Tillman, Ed Park, Grace Krilanovich—and potentially you. Gigantic is currently seeking funding for their mission: the more money they raise, the nicer the rocket ship (or something like that).