Out this week: The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies; Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch; Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy; The Revolutionaries Try Again by Mauro Javier Cardenas; Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler; Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil; Words on the Move by John McWhorter; The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carré; Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly; The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs; Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild; and Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Need some more Jeanette Winterson in your life? The New Statesman is here with a short story. Titled “Gnomon,” it centers on a medieval blacksmith, Stephen, who’s asked to create his town’s first mechanical clock. Sample quote: “Time is irregular. One hour is not the same length as another.”
Ordinarily I would caution against reading a novel’s first draft, however in the case of Finnegans Wake, perhaps all rules should be tossed out the window. With this one, it seems as though any and all supplemental material might help unlock the finished product’s mysteries. Case in point: the entire first draft of Joyce’s most perplexing novel. (Of course, when all else fails, there’s always Michael Chabon to save the day.)
Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about “the evolution of the novel.”)
History’s 10 best prison breaks.A Paid Content column argues that the true genius of the Kindle is that it breaks the trend toward multi-tasking……But there is still a huge amount of confusion surrounding the Kindle’s DRM policies.AbeBooks aggregates some summer reading lists.VQR compiles a brief reading list for those following the post-election protests in Iran.Bay Area readers: Conversational Reading is taking a page from The Millions playbook and hosting a San Francisco indie bookstore walking tour. Sounds fun!
Is Alejandro Zambra the new great Latin American writer? James Wood thinks he is. In the latest New Yorker, he describes how Zambra’s new story collection alerted him to the writer’s oeuvre, going on to analyze all three of the writer’s novels in English. You could also read our 2011 interview with Zambra.
“Nigeria did fracture once, however, and it is this story that Chinua Achebe, a giant of African letters, tells. His memoir of the moment describes when the country, yoked together artificially by British colonizers, split apart at a cost of more than a million lives.” The New York Times Book Review on the writer’s There Was A Country.