Last week, I mentioned Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes, which caused a stir in Germany with its tale of a time-hopping Hitler. Now, Daniel Torday reviews the book for the Times, judging it both for its historical research and its merits as a work of fiction. Sample quote: “The German public’s acceptance of the artist they think they’re watching provides a critique of pop culture. But it feels like bringing the Luftwaffe to a knife fight.”
“The best thing I ever do for my writing is to take a walk alone in the woods behind our house. Nothing else gets my writing juices flowing so well. And yes, I think that I absolutely need more quiet in our current fractured world.” For Poets & Writers, novelist Leesa Cross-Smith interviewed fellow writer Silas House about quiet books and the importance of nature in the writing process. Pair with: our own Emily St. John Mandel on the pleasures of quiet books.
In 2006, Gene Luen Yang became the first graphic novelist to be nominated for a National Book Award. Yang earned a nomination in the Young People’s Literature category for the graphic novel American Born Chinese. Now Yang has been nominated a second time, again in the Young People’s Literature category, for a new book, Boxers and Saints. Francoise Mouly and Mina Kaneko talk with Yang at Page-Turner. (You can also read our interview.)
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
When did romance novels get such a bad rep? They weren’t always derided as somehow lesser than other books. At Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth delves into the history of the modern romance novel, exploring how particular stereotypes latched on to the popular genre. You could also read Julia Fierro on sex and the literary writer.