Recommended Reading: From The New Yorker, it’s Tessa Hadley on fiction as anthropology: “When I’m writing a story, its world is thin, unsatisfactory, untrue, until I start to find my way to those details, those ‘small cultural signifiers.’ As these accumulate on the page, the life in the piece thickens, the details breed, and the story begins to stir.”
The Walter Scott prize did an analysis of prize submissions since its eight years of existence-with 650 novels submitted-and found that "38% of its submissions were set in the 20th century, while 19% were set in the Victorian era, between 1837 and 1901." They also found many of the submissions focus on World Wars II and II and that the number of women historical fiction writers submitting their work has gone up."The [Walter Scott] Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth," the breakdown is fascinating.
After Herzog came out, Saul Bellow began the slow transformation from young Bellow into old Bellow, from the critically adored but little-known writer to the Nobel Prize winner whose views were solicited on every topic. In The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about a new biography of the author, which tackles his early career. Related: our own Emily St. John Mandel on Bellow’s novel The Bellarosa Connection.
"The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of 'imaginative power,' and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left." Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and "the imperial self" in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
"Tsundoku: the acquiring of reading materials followed by letting them pile up and subsequently never reading them." Do you buy books and let them languish? According to Ozy, there's a Japanese word for that. Might we encourage your tsundoku habit by encouraging you to look at this list of our favorite October releases?