Why do the British tell the best children’s stories? Perhaps because their culture has remained in touch with its pagan folklore, whereas in the United States, more pragmatic tales of morality, Christian obedience, and bootstrap-lifting rose to prominence. Also, picture books: general good thing for children or roadmap to total the moral collapse of society?
“This is the odd space these Theory Generation novels inhabit, making them peculiar novels of ideas. Their writers have read enough Theory at a young enough age to be in continued thrall to its power; they do justice to the disorienting shock those texts once had, and perhaps still have. Yet they are old enough to ironize (tenderly or bitterly) that power.” Are you a member of the theory generation?
Literary critic Amitava Kumar has written a personal essay for the Chronicle on his experience reading from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India, where the work has banned for 23 years. Read The Millions coverage of the festival here.
The Republic of South Sudan has declared independence. Just three years ago, Dave Eggers published Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan (Voice of Witness). The Guardian has an excerpt. A year later, Jamal Mahjoub foresaw the secessionist fervor south of Darfur.
For Perry Link, it was embarrassing to read Eileen Chang for the first time, because her work revealed things about China it took him too long to learn on his own. In The New York Review of Books, he writes about how Naked Earth, which the magazine’s publishing arm is republishing in June, cut through the jargon of Chairman Mao’s regime. FYI, Jamie Fisher wrote an essay on the book for The Millions.
“Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world.” At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz’s interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.
Richard Adams might be the only prominent author to make his name with a novel in which all of the main characters were rabbits. In The Guardian, he talks with Alison Flood about his classic Watership Down, explaining that he first came up with the plot while telling his children a story on a car ride.