When you think “Franz Kafka,” it typically isn’t his sunny disposition that comes to mind. According to Reiner Stach, this new collection of ephemera, however, seeks to challenge the tired, old conception of Kafka-as-tortured neurotic. Here’s a Millions review of Stach’s twin biographies of Kafka, himself.
Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to make America less stupid about the Civil War. He recommends five books we should all read to gain a better understanding of American history during this war and assures us that "I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete." So no excuses, start here
There There by Tommy Orange is one of our most anticipated books of the year. It debuts next week and this week Orange receives the New York Times treatment along with a few other rising star indigenous writers in an excellent profile. "Mr. Orange is part of a new generation of acclaimed indigenous writers from the United States and Canada who are publishing groundbreaking, formally innovative poetry, fiction and prose, shattering old tropes and stereotypes about Native American literature, experience and identity. Their ranks include poets like Layli Long Soldier, Natalie Diaz, Joshua Whitehead and Tommy Pico, and the essayists and memoirists Elissa Washuta and Terese Marie Mailhot.
"I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot." Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers' Recommends series.
Following up her post about Judy Blume’s Forever, our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for PEN American Center’s ongoing series for Banned Books Month. It's a book, Kiesling writes, which serves as an "exhibition of a uniquely talented person at the zenith of his powers." (This isn’t the first time she’s discussed the book, by the way.)