Is it another Beyoncé/Lemonade thinkpiece? Yes. Is it also more than that and worth your time to read? Yes. Terryn Hall at The Rumpus on Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and being a black woman in the South: “Although Beyoncé is not ‘literary’ in a traditional sense, she’s using her power to usher in new black poetic (Warsan Shire) musical (Ibeyi, Chloe and Halley Bailey) and modeling (Jourdan Dunn, Zendaya) talent in a manner similar to that of the literary patrons of yesteryear.”
“The call isn’t for a literature to, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has described, stop people from hitting us. [...] But for a multiplicity of presence. A mingling, if not an acceptance, of a duality of presence. The right to be average. For the black guys in our literary fiction, if nowhere else, to be given the benefit of the doubt.” Over at the Ploughshares blog, Bryan Washington makes a case for inclusion in literary fiction.
“Percy’s victory set off a controversy that involved the most powerful man in publishing, a famous journalist eager to take credit for the award, and a cub reporter who would go on to become one of the most celebrated writers of our time.” Benjamin Hedin delves into the mysteries of a controversial award.
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
“I had dreams about tornadoes. I dreamed of houses collapsing, people searching through rubble for dead bodies. Most of these dreams involved watching a large tornado in a field as it moved directly toward me. Like the scene early in the film The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy looks out the window and sees the tornado approaching, that sense of doom is always present in my dreams.” At the Paris Review Daily, Brandon Hobson reflects on a lifelong fear of bad weather.
Out this week: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin; Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler; The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson; This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets; Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe; and Smoke by Dan Vyleta. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.