Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel includes, among other discomfiting things, a series of fake advertisements for surreal women’s beauty products. The plot, which follows a proofreader named A, begins with the main character’s attempt to evade her roommate, and eventually brings A to join a “Church of Conjoined Eaters.” At Slate, Molly Fischer argues the book deftly captures our society’s weird treatment of femininity.
“The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally. To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right." Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan has been named the new president of PEN America. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki's 2010 profile of Egan.
The New York Public Library announced their eighteenth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, which is "given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories." The 2018 finalists are: Lesley Nneka Arimah's What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Venita Blackburn's Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Gabe Habash's Stephen Florida, Emily Ruskovich's Idaho, and Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart. From our archives: Habash and Zhang's 2017 Year in Reading entries.
Out this week: Five-Carat Soul by James McBride; Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott; Brother by David Chariandy; The Second Sister by Claire Kendal; and Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
As literary apprenticeships go, it’s hard to beat a chance to live with Doris Lessing. In 1963, not long after the death of Sylvia Plath, Jenny Diski moved in with the future Nobel laureate, who lived just north of King’s Cross in London at the time. In the LRB, Diski recounts her friendship with the novelist.