The newest issue of Granta features some seriously captivating work, like this poem by Juliana Spahr and this story by Lorna Gibb, among many others. This “Possession” issue pairs well with an essay by our own Lydia Kiesling on possessing one’s own words and the narrative potential of leaked emails.
The Russian Ministry of Culture has come under fire recently after accusations were levied by the Russian Writers’ Union of some 500 books having been removed from libraries by authorities in the Komi republic–and another fifty allegedly incinerated in the process. Most of these were textbooks published with money from the Soros Fund, run by hedge fund billionaire and very vocal Putin critic George Soros. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture has denied the accusations, stating that “if any books are declared ‘extremist’ through a court proceeding, they are put into the special list of the ministry of justice and immediately withdrawn from libraries. However, even in this case books are not destroyed, they are just not lent out to readers.”
New this week: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Hermann Koch; I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin; The Book of Unknown Americans by Year in Reading alum Cristina Henríquez; In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds; The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh; The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Helen O’Neill; and two new books, Paper Lantern and Ecstatic Cahoots, by Stuart Dybek.
“It was astonishing. Utterly astonishing. Everyone of them seemed . . . entranced by him.” Sometimes older books get a second life given contemporary contexts; such is the case with Sinclair Lewis‘s 1935 It Can’t Happen Here, reports Time. The book, which was written as Hitler came to power, has sold out online. See also this New Yorker piece about a recent stage adaptation of Lewis’s semi-satirical novel.
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)
Rebecca Makkai shares the events that we can’t miss at AWP. I’m looking forward to the LA Law Karaoke Costume Party at the Santa Monica Pier, sponsored by VIDA and Pen America, featuring Mary Oliver and Kesha. Tod Goldberg’s dispatch from AWP in 2013 is a nice supplement to the piece.