Out this week: The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison; Prodigals by Greg Jackson; 99 Poems: New and Selected by Dana Gioia; Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett; Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves; and Slow Boat to China by Kim Chew Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster — the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.
“If the taglines used to market lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to the country’s mainstream—‘Love Wins,’ ‘It Gets Better,’ and ‘You Can Play’—have led to unprecedented levels of inclusion and visibility, it is precisely by shoving sex aside and presenting gay people and straight people as essentially the same at heart. In the process, as the outsider status attached to being gay disappears in more and more contexts, some of gay culture’s radical roots risk being expunged from memory.” On Jim Downs’s Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation.
Ian McEwan stopped by BBC’s Radio4 flagship news program to discuss, among other things, his love for John Williams’s Stoner. The novel, as Claire Cameron reported for us last month, is currently flying off the shelves in the Netherlands. However since McEwan gave Williams’s forgotten masterpiece a shout out, UK buyers have been snapping up four copies per minute.