Remember when Esquire released their not-so-great list of eighty books every man should read? Well, they have amended their list to eighty books every person should read, asking advice from “eight female literary powerhouses” including Roxane Gay, Michiko Kakutani and Lauren Groff. Our own Janet Potter recommends twenty-eight books you should read if you want to.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)
Our own Janet Potter has teamed with Michael Shaub to launch The Book Report, an online weekly literary talk show. The first episode, which focuses on David Pearce‘s Red or Dead, is now available on YouTube. Pair their video with Mark Lane‘s Millions review of Pearce’s novel.
At The New Yorker, Sarah Miller humorously learns why only positive book reviews might be a bad thing. “If St. Petersburg is the Little Engine That Could of city names, then the main character, Raskolnikov, is the Little Engine That Could of elderly pawnbroker murderers,” she writes in her review of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
Masha Gessen will be the first writer to publish a book about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Previously the author demonstrated her knowledge of Chechnya in her 2012 book The Man Without a Face. Gessen, who is also working on a book about embattled punk group Pussy Riot, will reportedly leave her directorship at Moscow Radio Liberty in order to report on both projects full time.