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.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”
With the erosion of the 175-year-old Times-Picayune, New Orleans will soon be one of the largest metro areas without its own major newspaper publishing every day. Over at The Atlantic, Emily Badger explains the sad saga of its demise as well as the complexities and uncertainties yet to come.
“The repetitions, the ellipses, the onomatopoeia: All the markers of Wolfe’s stylistic DNA were adaptive mutations to a competitive climate, search-engine optimization for the typewriter age.” Here’s an interview with Tom Wolfe about his new novel, Back to Blood, which is receiving mixed reviews.