Is the system rigged? Aaron Bady at The New Inquiry discusses the inherent evil of the canon and the general problem with lists. For more on why we care about literary awards in the first place, here is Mark O’Connell from The Millions.
"Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always." James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
We once wondered if Lionel Shriver is America's best writer, and she once shared with us her love for William Trevor. In an interview with The Atlantic, she talks about not having kids and says the adaptation of We Need to Talk about Kevin "is a far better film than I had any reason to expect them to be able to make."
Whether or not you've read Grace Paley, you're likely to appreciate this George Saunders essay about her, which justifies his contention that she's "one of the great writers of voice of the last century." You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg's tribute to Paley upon her death.
"Behind the collective feast and public ritual lies a personal dimension: the holiday as each of us has lived it, laughed about it, imagined it or reinvented it." For their "My Thanksgiving" feature, The New York Times asked nine writers — including Parul Sehgal, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Emma Cline — how they celebrate the holiday. Pair with Nguyen's 2015 Year in Reading.
People laugh when I tell them: everybody’s born right-handed, but the best overcome it. But now, take heed my Southpaw brethren. Science may be on our side. One recent study indicates that left-handedness may lead to “a boost in a specific kind of creativity—namely, divergent thinking, or the ability to generate new ideas from a single principle quickly and effectively.”