Flavorwire has compiled a list of the best literary criticism of the year, ranging from Rebecca Solnit on Lolita to Elena Ferrante on literary publicity. Also check out this year’s most notable Millions pieces, from our star-studded Year in Reading to a literary reader for Lent.
“I was absolutely horrified. Wouldn’t have known if not for a Russian reader who read both editions. Publisher in total breach of contract.” The Guardian reports that author VE Schwab was “devastated” to learn scenes from her fantasy series Shades of Magic have been excised from Russian translations for featuring queer characters. See also: a consideration of the commercial viability of LGBTQ lit.
“Every streetlight is a slightly different hue/of white the squares like the blank faces of robots/offer the Hondas and Toyotas idling in the lot something/like hope and yet I am thinking of all of the people on the planes/landing and taking off the twin miracles of arrival and departure/each of them singing ‘Take Me With You’ whether they know/the song or not they are all singing”. A poem written by Dean Rader on the day of Prince’s death.
“We all use a ‘persona’ or mask, to some degree, all the time,” writes poet Robert Pinsky as he challenges the notion—widely held in English classes throughout the world—that a poem’s “speaker” is necessarily separate from a poem’s author. The latest release from Pinsky, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, is Selected Poems, and you can hear him read some excerpts in this video.
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
“This question of presence seems crucial to Tillman’s project. Her position in a text is tricky—she operates both inside and outside of it, which allows her to thwart distanced critical authority and also perform the aesthetic slippages she admires in others’ work.” On Lynne Tillman’s new story collection.