“When is it plagiarism, when is it homage? Especially in creative writing, I get tripped up on this distinction. A trick for writer’s block: write an imitation, steal moves, learn by mimicry. For my own poem-writing, I turn to other texts all the time. I pull language, take a word I like, sometimes fragments of phrases and twist them. I get inspired, I want to model after poems I fell madly for.” On discovering another writer’s plagiarism.
Following last year’s Pulitzer Prize, which Donna Tartt won for her first novel in eleven years, it means something when a critic draws a favorable comparison between The Goldfinch and a new book. For Laura Miller, though, it’s a natural reaction to the latest from Sarah Waters, which seems poised to “scratch the same big-novel itch” as Tartt’s novel did last year. (FYI, Sarah Waters wrote a Year in Reading entry for The Millions.)
Out this week: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier; Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi; The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal; The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens; Evensong by Kate Southwood; Behind the Moon by Madison Smartt Bell; and Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
"In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking." The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
Book reviews are great and all, but even we sometimes feel they're missing something. Enter Kevin Thomas, whose HORN! illustrated reviews for The Rumpus are beautiful and informative in under 9 panels. Compare his pieces on Roxane Gay's An Untamed State or Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams to our reviews here and here, and be sure to check out the just-published HORN! The Collected Reviews.
Alas, the Tournament of Books is over for my bracket as it was revealed that the "Zombie Round" brought Against the Day and Absurdistan back into the competition. With my finalists now officially out of the competition my bracket is dead, and it looks like I'll finish in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, fresh off the Oprah selection shocker (more on that in my next post), I'm think The Road is a lock to win this thing.Book Chronicle has organized an award for litblogs. In my post about book blogs being snubbed by the major blog awards, I argued that book blogs didn't need to recognized in this way to legitimize them. Still, I do appreciate Book Chronicle nominating The Millions for their award.Harry Potter obsessives can now have a look at the cover for the final book in the series.The Paris Review has given its $10,000 Plimpton Prize for Fiction to Benjamin Percy, for his story "Refresh, Refresh," which is excerpted on magazine's Web site.Tom Bissell reviews Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at Wet Asphalt.