Louis Menand, Thessaly La Force, Amelia Lester, and David Haglund have come together to discuss the influence of literary powerhouse and cultural icon Joan Didion in The New Yorker’s Out Loud Podcast. Our own Michael Bourne calls Didion America’s Truth Teller in his review of her biography.
Sergio De La Pava, the once and future king of our list of top ten books, gets the interview treatment at The Believer’s Logger page. Now might be a good time to scroll back to our profile of the author, whose first book, A Naked Singularity, came out in bookstores in June.
If the looming election has you feeling like you might need a change of address on November 9th, you might (might) consider the United Arab Emirates. Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has implemented a groundbreaking initiative which requires government employers to give workers an allotment of free time for reading. Sheikh Mohammed had this to say to novelist Paulo Coelho’s praise of the initiative, “Did you know, Paulo, that in the 9th century, our region had over 100 publishing houses on the outskirts of Baghdad alone? … When its life was centered on books, Baghdad was, my friend, a beacon in the worlds of astronomy, medicine, mathematics and philosophy. Where is Baghdad today?””
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”