“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the “I” to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes for The Atlantic about alternatives to the confessional mode in literature.
“What a horrible silent noisy people they are … My feeling toward those mice is flat-out fear. It has to do with the unexpected, unbidden, unavoidable, virtually silent, persistent, ulteriorly motivated appearance of these animals.” It looks like Franz Kafka really didn’t like mice. Reiner Stach, author of the definitive two-part biography of Kafka (The Decisive Years and The Years of Insight) has released a new book of Kafka ephemera called Is That Kafka? 99 Finds full of fascinating facts that never found a place in the biographies at large. This Millions review of Stach’s biographies might also suit your Kafka fancy.
“I rather like the idea of just using a few brushstrokes to create a whole world. And, of course, with Twitter you do that, you can tell a very big story in a few lines.” Books and Arts Daily talks with Alexander McCall Smith about the new art of Twitter fiction. Pair with the full text of David Mitchell‘s Twitter story “The Right Sort,” exclusively on The Millions.
Tim Parks’s review of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian has some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of reviewing translation, but it also takes some shots at the novel and its proponents: “Looked at closely, the prose is far from an epitome of elegance, the drama itself neither understated nor beguiling, the translation frequently in trouble with register and idiom. Studying the thirty-four endorsements again, and the praise after the book won the prize, it occurs to me there is a shared vision of what critics would like a work of ‘global fiction’ to be and that The Vegetarian has managed to present itself as a candidate that can be praised in those terms.” Here’s a Millions review of Kang’s Man Booker International prize-winner.
Year in Reading alum Maud Newton has a new short story up on Medium. Titled “Nobody’s Stranger,” the “Miami noir love story” somewhat wonderfully features a bar, “the most incongruous bar in Little Haiti,” in which the patrons are mostly “aging emo kids and British soccer fans and overweight burlesque enthusiasts.”