Jorge Louis Borges’s suggestions for the thirty-three books to begin his famed Library of Babel includes works by Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, and even Borges himself–and, maddeningly, no women. Nothing against Borges, but you may want to spend some time with our own slightly more diverse Year in Reading series for a bit more variety.
“What does it look like to be the child of war? A product of war? What does it look like to be a queer child from a very traditional Confucian family? How does one feel to pay homage to a family but to also, in a way, betray those familial values?” Kaveh Akbar interviews Ocean Vuong about linguistic identity, syntax, and the American gaze for Divedapper.
Ever since the Man Booker prize was opened up to American writers, there’s been a renewed debate about America’s contributions to the literary scene. Many people have wondered who past Bookers would have gone to had American authors been eligible. At The Guardian, a roundtable including Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris, Curtis Sittenfeld, Edna O’Brien and Martin Amis pick American books they think would have won if they’d had the chance. You could also read Joanna Scutts on the history of the prize, or check out the most recent Booker shortlist.
Rule number one in journalism: Don't call the person you are interviewing a fucking asshole. James Frey of A Millions Little Pieces discloses what he believes is the future of the written word. (via)
"What a horrible silent noisy people they are ... My feeling toward those mice is flat-out fear. It has to do with the unexpected, unbidden, unavoidable, virtually silent, persistent, ulteriorly motivated appearance of these animals.” It looks like Franz Kafka really didn't like mice. Reiner Stach, author of the definitive two-part biography of Kafka (The Decisive Years and The Years of Insight) has released a new book of Kafka ephemera called Is That Kafka? 99 Finds full of fascinating facts that never found a place in the biographies at large. This Millions review of Stach's biographies might also suit your Kafka fancy.
"Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill." The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked--and tied, moreover, to mental illness--based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer's Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the "touch of madness" from our own archives.