Sara Nović writes for The Believer about the deaf protagonist of Stephen King’s The Stand. As she explains it, “This is the plight of the average deaf character: to be plagued by the hearing author’s own discomfort with the idea of silence.” Pair with Lydia Kiesling’s Millions essay on King.
“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.
Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan Farmer responds to the recent pieces in the New York Times that ask poets to debate the question “does poetry matter?” As Farmer points out, ” it’s a bit like asking a bunch of religious figures if religion matters,” but the conversation is worth following and pairs well with our own recent pieces on poetry’s power and popularity.
Ever got the feeling that literary life used to be a lot more glamorous? Well, thanks to this review, we now have some proof that it was. In The Times Literary Supplement, a review of Antonia Fraser’s new memoir, which includes her memories of meeting the Queen and dancing with T.S. Eliot. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has named author Lesley Nneka Arimah its 2017 Artist of the Year. They note, “Arimah is at the forefront of a growing number of young authors, primarily immigrants and writers of color — in the Twin Cities, as well as across the country — who are writing some of the most original and interesting fiction and poetry being published today.” Arimah is the author of the short story collection What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, a 2017 Year in Reading favorite. She was also honored as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35” and named as a finalist for the John Leonard Prize. Congratulations!
In 1958, the Indian writer Yashpal published the first installment of This Is Not that Dawn, an eleven-hundred-page novel and feminist epic written in Hindi. The book presages many of the biggest controversies affecting India today. At Page-Turner, Karan Mahajan reads the novel, explaining why he believes it to be “the greatest long novel about India.” Related: Mythilo G. Rao pays a visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival.