Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
“We wanted to show a side of the migration crisis that is rarely portrayed, steering away from the depictions of nameless masses by certain media and politicians,” write the producers of Mr. Gay Syria, a documentary about Syrian refugees and their quest to shine a spotlight on the community of “Syrians who had to run away from war and homophobia,” and who have relocated to Turkey, “a place that did not accept them either.” Now, after two years of work, the filmmakers are raising money to fund post-production and community outreach. You can donate here, and visit their Facebook or Twitter pages for more information.
Whitney Houston, Adele, Kanye West, Prince, and Justin Bieber all share something in common when it comes to the songs they sing. Each one of them rhymes “do” and “you” more often than any other pair of words. In fact, according to Ben Blatt, that duo is the most commonly rhymed pair in the history of pop music.
New releases this week are Lydia Davis’ new translation of Madame Bovary, Ingrid Betancourt’s memoir Even Silence Has an End, The Prizefighter and the Playwright, a book about the unlikely relationship between George Bernard Shaw and boxer Gene Tunney, and the poetry collection Human Chain by Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.
“I think it’s important that poets exist in societies because they exist in the realm of affect. Feeling is important to them. How people feel, what they feel, what breaks them, how trauma resonates through their lives… that’s a legitimate space in poetry. It’s a legitimate space for investigation.” Aaron Coleman interviews Citizen author Claudia Rankine about intimacy, her writing process, and her experience in an MFA program.
“I don’t want to settle for distraction; I want to look forward to reading my book with the palpitating excitement of a second date with someone I’ve already fallen for. I want to miss my stop. Ideally, I’ll miss a few.” While it can be easy to spot a beach, airplane, or cabin read, Adam Sternbergh‘s writes about finding the perfect “subway read” for the New York Times. From our archives: our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s essay on reading and writing on trains.