The Russian Ministry of Culture has come under fire recently after accusations were levied by the Russian Writers’ Union of some 500 books having been removed from libraries by authorities in the Komi republic–and another fifty allegedly incinerated in the process. Most of these were textbooks published with money from the Soros Fund, run by hedge fund billionaire and very vocal Putin critic George Soros. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture has denied the accusations, stating that “if any books are declared ‘extremist’ through a court proceeding, they are put into the special list of the ministry of justice and immediately withdrawn from libraries. However, even in this case books are not destroyed, they are just not lent out to readers.”
“Could I write a novel about fugues in the form of a fugue?” Margot Singer wonders in The Paris Review, remembering the process of writing her first novel and considering other authors – Joyce, Nabokov, Woolf – who have tried to compose words musically. See also: our own Jacob Lambert on whether to write with background music on.
Mavis Gallant, who passed away a year ago this February, published a total of a hundred and sixteen short stories in The New Yorker, which puts her on par with short story factories like John Cheever and John Updike. Yet by the time she died, she was penniless and alone, a fact which worried the few people in Paris who knew her well. In The Walrus, David MacFarlane examines what her writing meant to him. Pair with: Laurel Berger on her own fascination with the author.
Lots of new releases this week, among them a new paperback edition of Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out: Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus; The Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah; On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee; The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar; The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd; The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani; and Little Failure by Year in Reading alum Gary Shteyngart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.