Are you familiar with JT LeRoy (or rather, Savannah Knoop … or wait, Laura Albert), perpetrator of one of the greatest literary hoaxes in recent memory? Author: The JT LeRoy Story is a new documentary by Jeff Feuerzeig that asks questions about whether or not existence is predicated on real-world physicality — LeRoy’s books exist, so doesn’t LeRoy exist by association?
Let’s take a moment to be jealous of other countries, shall we? In Iceland, “one in ten [residents] will publish something in their lifetime.” Norway’s government “buys 1,000 copies of every book a Norwegian author publishes. It provides a $19,000 annual subsidy to every author.” In Argentina, “the city of Buenos Aires now gives pensions to published writers.”
Does modern China need its own literary sub-genre? On trying to understand China’s “ultra-unreal” reality: “If Magic Realism was the way in which Latin American authors presented their view of their reality, then Ultra-Unreal Realism should be our name for the literature through which the Chinese regard their reality. The Chinese word ‘chaohuan’ (ultra-unreal) is something of a play on the word ‘mohuan’ (magic), as in ‘mohuan xianshizhuyi’ (magic realism)— ‘mohuan’ is ‘magical unreal,’ and ‘chaohuan’ is ‘surpassing the unreal.’”
Out this week: The Nix by Nathan Hill; Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe; The Legend of Jesse Smoke by Robert Bausch; and Sex and Death, a new story anthology including pieces by Kevin Barry, Wells Tower and Yiyun Li. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.