Here is Amitav Ghosh in conversation with Michael Berkeley for the BBC Radio3 broadcast about his new novel, Flood of Fire. In the interview, Ghosh talks about his childhood by the water and the influence of the sea on his work. He also curates a playlist of influential music that ranges from Bengali boat songs to Phillip Glass to ‘Hindoo airs.’
“The first sentence, itself described as a ‘decoy for attention’ in a 1930 story on the new art, is a lure within a lure, created in a new economy increasingly predicated on commercial diversification and instant appeal, in a book market that had never been so populated.” Electric Lit takes us through the history of the novel’s first sentence. Pair with our essay on the art of the opening sentence.
Recommended reading: Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams (which we covered here and here), writes again, this time about 52 Blue, “the loneliest whale in the world.” The full work is available at Atavist for $3.99, but an excerpt is available at Slate.
The fiftieth anniversary of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is coming up on October 13th, so to get ready, pour yourself a drink (or five), don your best academic tweeds, and read these interviews with playwright Edward Albee and audience members who attended the play’s original 1962 run.
The worst thing about owning your own bookstore? According to Garrison Keillor, it’s that “you do not get a 10 percent discount when you buy books. I don’t know why. It was explained to me once, and I didn’t understand. I mean, I’m the owner, right? But no, that’s not how it’s done.”
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).