“My idea of the ideal literary dinner party remains locking a book under my left wrist while conveying risotto to my mouth with my right at the kitchen table.” Stacy Schiff talks literary dinner parties and more in this week’s New York Times By the Book column. Schiff’s latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is out this week.
"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.
At a loss for what to read? Goldman Sachs has released their reading list. “We’re talking about people who incurred $550 million in fines for schemes to turn a profit on the civilization-threatening financial crisis they themselves had helped create, and the line between genius and chutzpah is notoriously hard to draw, so, yeah, I’d like to know what’s on these folks’ bedside tables.” Our own Hannah Gersen wrote about Occupy Wall Street and Bartleby, the Scrivener.
Out this week: Everything Love Is by Claire King; They Are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill; The Moravian Night by Peter Handke; All Joe Knight by Kevin Morris; Of All That Ends by Günter Grass; and A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
The 80th birthday of Philip Roth inspires a festschrift of sorts over at New York Magazine, with Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Schulz, James Franco (natch), and others weighing in on Roth's Best Book and other vexed questions. (For the record, it's Sabbath's Theater.)
"When you go to Narnia, your worries come with you. Narnia just becomes the place where you work them out and try to resolve them." Lev Grossman writes for The Atlantic about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and why fantasy isn't escapism. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki's review of Grossman's latest novel, The Magician's Land.