Is Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life a Great American Gay Novel? According to Garth Greenwell, the book — which came out in March — is one of the most ambitious gay novels to come out in years. At The Atlantic, he makes a case that the book is a classic of its kind. You could also read Christopher Richards on Frank O’Hara’s lessons for gay men.
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
A Canadian Ph.D. student wrote (and successfully defended!) a 52,000 word dissertation that features almost no punctuation. Titled “Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge,” the dissertation has no periods, commas or semi-colons, a choice intended to “make a point” about colonial and aboriginal identity. Canada’s National Post has the story.