In a conversation from Upstairs at the Strand, Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz and Hilton Als discuss masculinity, science fiction, realism and truth, and representations of Latino culture. Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions interview with Díaz.
Though the world may never know whether reading the greats makes you a better person, according to a recent study, those who take an active interest in the arts are more likely to be altruistic.
New writers need to trust themselves, Marilynne Robinson advises in an interview with Thessaly La Force for VICE. "The idea that you might do something radically brilliant—that assumption is very empowering and it has given the world a lot of really interesting things to look at," she said.
Bet you didn't know this Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the first "going postal" shootings in Oklahoma. I have a piece at The Morning News examining America's export of this peculiar brand of spree killings around the world, most recently to Oslo, Norway.
Out this week: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay; Autumn by Ali Smith; A Separation by Katie Kitamura; 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso; The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; and Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: "What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day - with a toothache that she can't afford to fix . . . - but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?" . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: "At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language." . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: "I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist."