Recommended Reading: Elisa Gabbert at Guernica on the relationship between ideas and language. “How can the name come after the concept if you need the name to understand the concept? This problem of circularity always made me resistant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong version, which states that our thoughts are bound by the restraints of our language.”
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.”
Celebrated author Jean Craighead George passed away this week at the age of 92. George published more than 100 books throughout her career, often focusing on the environment and the natural world, most famously in My Side of the Mountain and in her Newbery Medal-winner, Julie of the Wolves.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.
Cole Stryker‘s Epic Win for Anonymous hasn’t garnered him a lot of positive feedback from members of the infamous image board 4chan. It did, however, result in lots of pizzas being delivered to Housing Works’ Bookstore on the night of its launch party. The author later did an “Ask Me Anything” session with Reddit and explained the pizza delivery among other things. What do you think will happen now that two authors have announced a forthcoming book on Anonymous itself?