“I can locate the remnants of two or three abandoned cars that haven’t moved in a year, a couple of defunct pay phones, several tire piles, and at least one trashed couch that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.” Rob Walker on playing Pokémon Go in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
“She told the students not to explain too much, that they could throw in expressions in Igbo or Yoruba or pidgin and trust the reader to get it. She told them that even if a story was autobiographical it should be shaped—that, for instance, although in life you could have ten close friends, in fiction you could not, because it was too confusing. She told them to avoid inflated language—’never purchase when you can buy.'” A delightful (and somewhat rare) long profile of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the New Yorker.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
With the help of the folks at Ploughshares and Medium, Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman is publishing a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure literary short story. To participate, read the first chapter (as well as the introduction) online, then tweet Bergman to tell her where the story should go from there.
Book Cover Roundup, Item #1: Each year The Millions publishes a high stakes face-off between the UK and US covers of books featured in The Morning News’ Tournament of Books (2014, 2013, 2012). Now, for Sarah Hemfrey’s research on book covers in the publishing industry, it’s your turn to be the judge. Item #2: if Harry Potter is more your style, that whole series is getting new cover designs, too.
It appears that our own Sonya Chung’s consideration of underappreciated Russian writer Sergei Dovlatov played a role in getting one of his stories published in a forthcoming issue of PEN America.