“In a bewildering new trend, it is young rationalist bloggers in Bangladesh who have emerged as the primary target of Islamic extremists.” K. Anis Ahmed writes about the brutal murders of bloggers at the front of the secular movement who have demanded punishment for those committing genocide. Pair with an essay from Hasan Altaf about how celebrating literature can be a form a protest.
New this week: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; The Blondes by Emily Schultz; The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe; Positive by David Wellington; This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen; When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett; Seven Devils by M.G. Miller; and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“Whenever I tried to invent a character or a situation, I felt a stab of guilt. I could hear my teacher’s quavering voice saying, Write what you know! Why had she insisted on this so vociferously?” Writing class mantras are easy to impart but they are also easily misinterpreted. A.X. Ahmad, author of The Last Taxi Ride and The Caretaker, learns this truth the hard way as he tries to become a writer following a personal upheaval. Pair with Ahmad’s Millions essay on “The Thriller, Reinvented.”
Swarm and Spark, a new column at The Millions, invites you to write with your questions about publishing, the literary life, or writing. The column is written by two anonymous figures: a NYC editor with years in the industry and an MFA professor at a long-established program. Ask anything that has plagued, confounded, pleased or troubled you about your life in and around literature and you may be answered, always with respect: your question will be treated as anonymous as well. Send your true confessions, complaints and queries to [email protected].
Sometimes, Virginia Woolf took a break from her busy schedule of constant brilliance in order to write children’s stories for her nephews’ newspaper, The Charleston Bulletin. A taste: “When in a good and merry mood Trisy would seize a dozen eggs, and a bucket of flour, coerce a cow to milk itself, and then mixing the ingredients toss them 20 times high up over the skyline, and catch them as they fell in dozens and dozens and dozens of pancakes.”
Congratulations to our very own Emily St. John Mandel, whose second novel, The Singer’s Gun, is included, along with 19 other books, in the 2010 Indie Next List Highlights. Jason Hafer of Wolfgang Books says: “The Singer’s Gun is a taut, restrained book with a quick hook and a long pull. It is a moving and mysterious work, wholly authentic.”
As an appetizer, consider Rick Poyner’s take on the work of Pierre Faucheux, a book designer Richard Hollis called “the single most important figure in French graphic design after Cassandre.” For the main course, check out this incredible Book Cover Archive edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt and Eric Jacobsen. Finally, as dessert, nominate your favorite book designs from 2011 for Design Observer’s “50 Books/50 Covers” contest.
“Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like.” Over at The Nation, Evan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker‘s latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it’s not as sexy as Baker’s other work. If it’s the sex you want, see our primer on Baker’s novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.