Heidi Julavits credits her habit of keeping a diary with convincing her that writing might be a viable career path. In her new book, The Folded Clock, she returns to the format of her childhood, crafting a lengthy diary meant to stand on its own as a narrative. In the Times, Eula Biss reads the book and reflects on our notions of the self. Related: Rachel Signer on the Julavits/Sheila Heti/Leanne Shapton project Women in Clothes.
In the Times, Jennifer Schuessler reviews Ishmael Beah’s new novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, which takes place in the same war-ravaged setting as the author’s 2007 memoir. Schuessler writes that Beah “delivers a glimpse of the hardships of postwar Sierra Leone along with strong and repeated assurances about the redemptive powers of stories themselves.”
Out this week: The Past by Tessa Hadley; Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt; The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela; The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian; Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington; The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert; Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris; and Jakob’s Colors by Lindsay Hawdon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our just-published Book Preview.
Writing for NPR’s Book News round-up, Annalisa Quinn steers readers toward a recently released FBI file alleging that Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes was in fact a “communist writer” with a “long history of subversive connections.” In her update, Quinn shares some counter-arguments from Fuentes’s colleague and biographer, Julio Ortega.
A new kind of book review: 5 artists interpret and critique literature through works of visual art.
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.