Out this week: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson; The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum; At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen; The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak; and The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“In a world where reality has become stranger than fiction, actual books are no longer selling.” At The New Republic, Morgan Jerkins talks with agents, authors, booksellers, editors, and publicists about whether the Trump presidency is bad for the book business. And on that note, let’s revisit our own Bill Morris on book releases: “There are few iron facts in the crapshoot of the literary life, but here’s one: In book publishing — no less than in music, war, and sex — timing is everything.”
“Will anyone in America give a damn about Beig? It’s hard to imagine our glittering zeitgest machine ever getting behind her, with her landscape, her women, her knowledge of the secret lives of animals born for the hatchet. Her writing, so invested in the disappearing rural world, is particular, yes, but universal: her characters love and long and pine away.” Matthew Neill Null is unsatisfied with how American readers have treated the work of the great German novelist Maria Beig. He makes a passionate case in her favor in this new essay over at The Paris Review.
The New York Times profiles MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. His book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (which we have been anticipating for months) is released this Tuesday.
“Symptoms included a frenzy for culling and hunting down first editions, rare copies, books of certain sizes or printed on specific paper.” Lauren Young writes in Atlas Obscura about the phenomenon of bibliomania, “a dark pseudo-psychological illness” that afflicted upper-class victims in Europe and England during the 1800s. And for a first-hand account of more contemporary book theft, read John Brandon on his high school pastime: “The first time was nerve-racking, a rush, but by the third book I was already settling in.”
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.