New this week: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf; Loving Day by Mat Johnson; The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi; The Rocks by Peter Nichols; and The Shore by Sara Taylor. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Last semester, at UC Riverside, the novelist Susan Straight began the class “Mixed-Race Literature and the American Experience” with a simple question: “How many of you are often asked, What are you?” In an essay about the class, she relates what they learned, which includes the observation that hair is weirdly important in America. (Related: The Millions published an essay by Straight on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
Congratulations to our very own Emily St. John Mandel, whose second novel, The Singer’s Gun, is included, along with 19 other books, in the 2010 Indie Next List Highlights. Jason Hafer of Wolfgang Books says: “The Singer’s Gun is a taut, restrained book with a quick hook and a long pull. It is a moving and mysterious work, wholly authentic.”
The British Library has paid £32,000 for poet Wendy Cope‘s email archive. A far cry from stacks of personal letters, but seemingly the natural progression of things. According to Cope herself, many of the emails “are not interesting at all”. (via @BookBench)
“Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not … When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone.” This excerpt from Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.