“Ocean Vuong is that rare architect of accommodation, giving the most precarious situations or embarrassing of grievances of our culture a sound environment in which they can thrive. As he kisses and tucks the parents in their beds, he sets out from the wreckage of his past towards a hard-won horizon of blunder and wonderment.” Jeff Nguyen reviews Vuong’s newest poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
David Foster Wallace wrote the best bitter takedown (PDF) of the cruise ship industry ever, but he only had to endure a 7-night vacation. Imagine his horror, then, if he had been forced to spend significant time on The World, a $20,000+/month ship that continuously circumnavigates the world and has permanent passengers in its 165 private residences. For a more detailed glimpse at life on board the ship, check out Anthony Bourdain’s Gourmet piece on his 2003 visit.
In theory, the author of a great novel is invisible to the reader, letting her stories and characters speak for themselves. In practice, however, it can help for an author to make herself known, as explained by Tim Parks in this essay. Sample quote: “We have the impression that if someone ever did find the full story of his life, we would immediately recognize the person we had in mind.”
In an effort to get consumers to think more consciously about the “human cost” of commercial sugar production, artist Kara Walker has installed “Subtlety,” a large-scale public sculpture in Brooklyn’s iconic Domino Sugar Factory. Meanwhile, Edwidge Danticat explores contemporary labor conditions in the Dominican Republic’s cane fields.
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukhergee, which was just shortlisted for the 2014 Booker Prize, will be released in the US at the beginning of October. If you just can’t wait another two weeks, an excerpt is now available online. For more about the 2014 Booker Prize, read our coverage of the longlist announcements here.