“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
Following its interview with Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Bookforum published its review of the author’s debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase. As in many other books that take place in the post-Cold War age, the plot centers on a group of Ukrainian immigrants, fresh out of the former Soviet Union, who set up new lives in America. However, despite the subject matter, it’s a bit too reductive, Chloé Cooper-Jones writes, to classify the book as an immigrant novel. For more on the book, read Matthew Wolfson’s Millions review.
Split This Rock’s Tenth Annual Poetry Contest is now open for submissions, judged by Sheila Black. All prize winners will be invited to read at the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival and have their poems published in The Quarry.
The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed Xujun Eberlein, a “China-born and now Boston-based” short story writer, essayist and blogger about recent literary happenings in her native country. The first question they asked has to do with Finnegans Wake, which is selling surprisingly well in Chinese bookstores.