“Fantasy is a tool of the storyteller. It is a way of talking about things that are not, and cannot be, literally true. It is a way of making our metaphors concrete, and it shades into myth in one direction, allegory in another.” Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant for the New York Times Book Review and considers the power, and risks, of fantasy. Pair with Ishiguro’s talk with The Telegraph about the 10 years since the publication of Never Let Me Go.
The 80th birthday of Philip Roth inspires a festschrift of sorts over at New York Magazine, with Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Schulz, James Franco (natch), and others weighing in on Roth's Best Book and other vexed questions. (For the record, it's Sabbath's Theater.)
"It comprises 10 short stories written by Iraqis, all of whom were guided by a simple yet fertile premise: What might Iraq look like a century from now?" The Atlantic review's Tor's anthology Iraq + 100 (originally published last year by Comma Press in England), which was released stateside last month—in an attempt to bring visibility to an underrepresented group of writers in America. Read The Millions' review of the "ambitious short story collection" from March.
"The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured." That's not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, "There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories."
Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)