One downside to being an internationally acclaimed author is that people care an awful lot about digging into your past. Haruki Murakami has found this out the hard way, as a librarian from Kobe High School (which Murakami attended during his younger years) has made public a list of books checked out by then-budding author. For more “Murakami meets library,” here’s a review of his own The Strange Library.
Penelope Fitzgerald has been getting a lot of attention lately, largely due to Hermione Lee‘s newest biography. In an article for the Paris Review, Bridget Read considers the impact a better understanding of Fitzgerald’s life could have on her modern reputation, and argues that “it is not extraordinary that she became a prize-winning novelist, though you may have heard otherwise. … It is vital to emphasize that Fitzgerald’s novels were not achieved in spite of her domestic life; they were borne directly out of it. Her work is radical in that it suggests that, in fact, a feminine experience, a liminal experience, might be better equipped than a male one to address the contradictions of human existence taken up by the greatest literature.”
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
New this week: A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem; The Fall Guy by James Lasdun; No Knives in the Kitchens of This City by Khaled Khalifa; Mister Monkey by Francine Prose; The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa; Truevine by Beth Macy; Love for Sale by David Hajdu; and The Loved Ones by our own Sonya Chung. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.