The international popularity and utility of English doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn’t address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, “[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view,” or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by “a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation.”
“If I was working against any existing Detroit narrative, it is the one where working-class black people exist as numbers or victims and not as fully-realized, complex people.” Angela Flournoy on her most recent work, The Turner House, a National Book Award finalist. We interviewed the author and reviewed the book.
Out this week: Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams; Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan; Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett; Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter; The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock; Miss Jane by Brad Watson; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon; and The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Last week, we discussed how Teju Cole has mastered literary Twitter, and that was before we knew that he tweeted a 4,000-word essay on immigration. “A Piece of the Wall” is composed of 250 tweets written during a seven-hour period and starts with: “I hear the sound of faint bells in the distance. It is like a sound in a dream, or the jingling at the beginning of a Christmas song.”
Chris Rose laments the erosion of his former employer, New Orleans’s Times-Picayune, in the pages of Oxford American’s New South Journalism issue. Meanwhile, James Pogue discusses the art of fact-checking, which he says “has recently become a voguish topic among the New Yorker-reading and NPR-listening set.” This is of course to say nothing of the London Review of Books-reading set across the pond as well, much less the Onion-reading set located far and wide.