“In Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mozambique, it’s the real thing, not magic, and the only way to tell these stories.” Man Booker International Prize finalist Mia Couto discusses the label “magic realism,” the death of Cecil the lion, his new novel Confession of the Lioness – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and post-civil war Mozambique. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto’s fiction.
“Her storytelling is magical and profound, creating connectivity between people and places: a signal of hope at a particularly divided moment in time.” Joining the company of Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, and Sjón, Turkish novelist Elif Şafak has been chosen as the fourth contributor for The Future Library Project. Şafak’s novel, Three Daughters of Eve, was featured in the second-half of our 2017 Great Book Preview.
Charles Dickens turns 200 in February, which is one good explanation for two new biographies (Charles Dickens: A Life) and (Becoming Dickens) appearing just in time. But even more importantly, why is now the perfect time to read him? Here’s one hint: the man’s vast social imagination.
It’s rare that you find someone as eclectic as William Boyd. Not only did the British writer’s new play (based on two of Chekhov’s short stories) debut in London this week, his upcoming novel will star none other than James Bond. (If you’re wondering, his friend Daniel Craig is not how he pictures the superspy.)
Remember when Chipotle started publishing famous authors like Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Neil Gaiman on their cups and burrito-toting bags? Well, now’s your chance to join them. The fast-food chain is holding a contest for student writers, and the prizewinning responses to the prompt “write about a time when food created a memory” will be printed on those same cups and brown paper bags across the country. Oh, and there’s a $20,000 scholarship, too.
Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers living abroad. As he puts it, “But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff? Or is there an advantage in being away from what is perhaps only the flavor of the day at home, the expressions invented today and gone tomorrow? Then, beyond specifically linguistic concerns, what audience do you write toward if you are no longer regularly speaking to people who use your language?” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions piece on reading the English translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words.
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.