“The best critics do more than explain why they liked or didn’t like a book; they try to understand books, and show other readers, by example, how to read and think about those books. Specialized expertise can work in service of that goal, but is probably not as important as a willingness to attempt to be a work’s most thoughtful reader.” Elisa Gabbert writes for Electric Literature about who gets to translate and review works and takes Kazuo Ishiguro‘s latest novel, The Buried Giant (which we reviewed here), as a case study.
Over the past week, the work of three Millions staffers has been shown off for other publications: Mark O’Connell talks Lethem, Dyer and Batuman for Slate; Emily St. John Mandel talks noir for Beyond the Margins; and Garth Risk Hallberg names his selection for this year’s Pulitzer-less Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“Motherhood remains more of a choice for some than others, and yet our varying degrees of agency are rarely acknowledged by the mainstream narrative upheld by the vast majority of what has (disparagingly) been referred to as ‘mommy lit’.” An essay in Buzzfeed about pregnancy, queerness, and three upcoming memoirs about motherhood (and non-motherhood). Pair with: an essay about motherhood as muse.
A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, “even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes.”