Since they got married and began working 33 years ago, Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear have translated around 30 works of Russian literature, from The Brothers Karamazov to Doctor Zhivago. Now their interview with the Paris Review is available online from the Literary Hub, and this seems as good a time as ever to bring up that constant debate: who’s greater, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky?
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters -- “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” -- by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of "likeability." (There's also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
From The Independent, the best of the new breed of underground literary magazines to fit into that “empty slot on the bookshelf between your pristine copies of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and Granta.”
Mexican poet Javier Sicilia founded the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity as a means of combating the horrific slew of drug-related murders plaguing his country. As he explains in this translated letter to Mexico's government, his cause is personally motivated.
Out this week: Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson; Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh; A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin; The Incarnations by Susan Barker; The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany; Darkness the Color of Snow by Thomas Cobb; The Investigation by J.M. Lee; and Browsings by the Washington Post critic Michael Dirda. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Millions staffer Mark O'Connell immersed himself in the "transhumanist" movement for more than a year, checking in on such characters as Zoltan Istvan, the quixotic U.S. presidential candidate perhaps best-known for driving a coffin across the country. O'Connell's book, To Be a Machine, which details dreamers like Istvan envisioning human existence liberated from the outmoded confines of the human body, publishes this month.