Azar Nafisi thinks the best way to pin down a culture is to take a look at its canonical works of literature. In The Republic of Imagination, as Adam Begley details in a review in the Times Literary Supplement, she examines a few of America’s classic novels, including Babbitt, Huck Finn and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark’s review of the book for The Millions.
Recent Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes about the difference between publishing your first book and your second book for Ploughshares. Let's just say it's the difference between champagne and "all the whiskey." Pair with Zhanna Slor's Millions interview with Makkai in which they discuss that second book, The Hundred-Year House.
Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
"I'm not paranoid, I'm really not." The Washington Post has a profile of the so-called American Redoubt, an area of the Pacific Northwest populated by doomsday preppers. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel's reading list of five can't-miss apocalyptic narratives.
The Republic of South Sudan has declared independence. Just three years ago, Dave Eggers published Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan (Voice of Witness). The Guardian has an excerpt. A year later, Jamal Mahjoub foresaw the secessionist fervor south of Darfur.
London is the most popular literary city. Graphic designer Edgard Barbosa made an infographic that visualizes the number of English-language books written about 10 international cities from 1800 to 2000. The locales include Rome, New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Madrid, Beijing, Chicago, Cairo, and Mumbai.
“When Leonard Riggio bought Barnes & Noble in 1971, it consisted of a single struggling store in Manhattan. Over time, with swagger and an unwavering belief in the value of physical bookstores, he turned it into the country’s largest bookselling chain.” Riggio, founder and executive chairman of B&N, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down in September. Let our own Janet Potter take you through a history of her love for bookstores.