“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Out this week: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz; Sun in Days by Meghan O’Rourke; The Good People by Hannah Kent; The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery; and The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
This fall, Marilynne Robinson will mark her return to a fictional plains town in Iowa with the publication of Lila, the third novel in her Gilead series. Expect the novel to be featured in our forthcoming Great Book Preview, but if you can’t wait until then, you’ve got to check out FSG’s exclusive excerpt from the book.
At NPR’s blog, Meg Wolitzer chooses five summer books that deserve more attention from readers. If you’re a Millions regular, though, you may find her selections a wee bit familiar, seeing as we reviewed Jessica Soffer’s book, interviewed This Is Running For Your Life author Michelle Orange and published The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards author Kristopher Jansma.
David Foster Wallace stranded on a desert island.Another reason to love Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley: his refreshingly enthusiastic take on “slacker fiction” and All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen, who, admittedly, “scarcely qualifies as a slacker.”Paul Auster was a protesting, fence-tearing, rioting crazy ’68er, too, it turns out.The phenomenal Burkhard Bilger supplements his New Yorker piece on folk-music field recordings with some audio.Malcolm Gladwell’s seemingly endless string of public appearances continues. This one is, intriguingly, a public “book discussion” with the Washington, D.C. chief of police.With some speculating that CBS News is about to close up shop and that Katie Couric is on her way out, rumors are already swirling about the obligatory memoir.Jonathan Franzen answers the question “Do you regret your run-in with Oprah?” in a “Big Think” video. Aficionados of Franzen mannerisms may also enjoy the other fifteen or so Franzen videos that Big Think has available.
“This year, AmazonCrossing plans to publish ‘77 titles from 15 countries and 12 languages’ in the United States, which will almost certainly dwarf the output of Dalkey and its ilk. And, with this new $10 million commitment, the number of works in translation published by AmazonCrossing should continue to soar. Which means that AmazonCrossing will almost certainly be the largest publisher of translated literature in the United States for at least the next five years.” At The New Republic, find out how Amazon became the largest publisher of translated works. Our own Michael Bourne breaks the news that Amazon has purchased the English language.