Last month, while traveling through Des Moines, Iowa, President Barack Obama had the chance to interview one of his favorite authors: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. The first part of the conversation was just published in the NYRB and the second part will appear in the next issue. Obama, who is a big fan of Robinson, had recently quoted her in his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Table 4 Writers Foundation, which was established in the honor of Elaine Kaufman, will award $2,000 grants for never-before-published works of fiction and non-fiction. The deadline for submissions is October 15. (h/t Bill Morris, who has written about the foundation and grant program before.)
“It comprises 10 short stories written by Iraqis, all of whom were guided by a simple yet fertile premise: What might Iraq look like a century from now?” The Atlantic review’s Tor’s anthology Iraq + 100 (originally published last year by Comma Press in England), which was released stateside last month—in an attempt to bring visibility to an underrepresented group of writers in America. Read The Millions’ review of the “ambitious short story collection” from March.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.