What if the next crisis to hit the headlines brings an end to the world as we know it? It’s a mind-bending thing to contemplate, but it’s what our own Emily St. John Mandel tackles in Station Eleven, which made it up to the final five of last year’s National Book Awards. On a new episode of The Takeaway, Emily talks about the novel, exploring what’s left when civilization withers away. You could also read our interview with Emily about the book.
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century — namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
Out this week: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis; A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett; Ballroom by Alice Simpson; Hello Mr. Bones & Goodbye Mr. Rat by Patrick McCabe; Rooms by Lauren Oliver; and How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, who released an essay collection two years ago. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Over at The Paris Review, basketball columnist (and really great poet) Rowan Ricardo Phillips has written a compelling essay on Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, hot streaks, and the tenability of genius. Jacob Lambert’s essay on reading about (and not watching) sports is a nice complement.
“When author Kamila Shamsie challenged the book industry to publish only women in 2018 to help address a gender imbalance in literature, just one publisher took up the challenge.” And Other Stories, an English publisher who publish translations and English language books, has decided to only publish women writers in 2018, according to the BBC. Pair with: an essay by our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee about the visibility and privacy of women writers.
“In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering”….you’ll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It’s full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as “Alex said he ‘wanted to plant that flag in the culture,’ and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave”. Chee’s newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.