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.
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
A Nerdist podcast featuring Wil Wheaton and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in which Tweedy discusses his path to becoming a musician, how his kids like having “a rockstar for a dad,” and lets listeners in on their sound check at The Wiltern? Well, there goes your Monday afternoon.
Pamela Paul’s recent New York Times piece on the “permanent reunion” Facebook has trapped us in and an 18-year-old’s op-ed in the New York Post about why the shallow connections of Facebook led him to quit, have me feeling queasy about checking my timeline. So, I’m re-reading Edan Lepucki’s essay about taking a social media detox instead. (Cue the cognitive dissonance of clicking the “like” button next to this entry.)
Amidst all the controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman, one question that gets left out is how realistic, exactly, the book is in its depiction of its setting. At Salon, Scott Timberg sits down with Professor Angela Thorburg, who makes a case that regardless of its literary qualities, Watchman is “a very accurate perspective of what’s going on here in the South.”
In an interview for Guernica Jonathan Lee talks to Chris Parris-Lamb, the literary agent who represented Chad Harbach‘s The Art of Fielding, John Darnielle‘s National Book Award-nominated Wolf in White Van, and now our very own Garth Risk Hallberg‘s upcoming City on Fire, about “The Art of Agenting.” Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s conversation with her agent, “Don’t Ever Do It for the Money,” and with the opening lines of City on Fire, a Millions exclusive.