Year in Reading alumnus Alexandre Chee writes about the courage of being queer. As he puts it, “I am sure the 49 patrons who died at Pulse that night didn’t necessarily think of themselves as brave for being there. But they were.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author.
“That little book had such an impact. It changes the course of history. When you think about how sheer accident can change so much, it’s breathtaking.” A set of Luo-language books written by President Obama's father are up for auction until today, reports The New York Times. Written for the East African Literature Bureau,“the series uses the character Otieno, the Wise Man to offer advice on farming, healthy eating habits and other topics.” Pair with our own Janet Potter on reading presidential biographies.
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn't a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Villanelle Bot, a Twitter bot that composes poems in villanelle form, is publishing the automated poetry on their blog. The bot uses Twitter posts from random people, then stitches together all lines that end in certain words to form a full poem. You could also check out our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
"I was enrolled in a writing program to imagine a cultured life, not just to dream about the rewards of being a writer." Rigoberto González for Publisher's Weekly on why he attended and later returned to teach at a M.F.A. program.