Recommended listening: Waywords and Meansigns, a new project that’s set out to record Finnegans Wake in its entirety and set it to music. The complete work will be released on May 4th, but there are already a few samples available online.
Words Without Borders has interviewed the writers and translators of Man Booker International Prize finalists Man Tiger, A General Theory of Oblivion, The Vegetarian, and more. Pair with this Millions review of The Vegetarian, a “dark and cynical” novel.
Now that you can purchase the letters of William Styron, you can note how especially funny (and sad) it is that Darkness Visible, the author’s book-of-self-help-slash-memoir-slash-confession, sold well enough to overshadow the novels that made his name.
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century — namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
New this week is Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House. Also hitting bookshelves are Heroines by Kate Zambreno, The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham, and more posthumously published work by Kurt Vonnegut. In non-fiction, there’s There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe and Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Timothy Egan’s biography of Edward Curtis.
“A neck cannot be modern. A neck is in time, belongs to time, but is not formed by it. My guess is that even photos of Neanderthal necks would not differ significantly… [They are] in a certain sense, pure nature. Something that grows in a certain place, the way tree trunks grow, or mussels, fungi, moss.” Recommended reading: Karl Ove Knausgaard on the sanctity of bodies, the nature of truth, and the back of the neck. The third volume of Knausgaard’s bestselling My Struggle hit American bookshelves last week. (Check out our own review of Knausgaard’s previous volumes.)