New this week: The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine; The Mortifications by Derek Palacio; Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple; The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke; The Trespasser by Tana French; The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang; and Nicotine by Nell Zink. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
“It can be difficult to talk about Uzbek without soaring into Orientalist flights. ‘O warbling beauty of the steppe!’ I started to write, like a 19th-century lady traveler.” Our own Lydia Kiesling is in the New York Times writing about studying Uzbek and speaking Turkish.
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh is a downright mesmerizing elegy to the eclectic singer-songwriter. Part idiot-savant, part deliberate curmudgeon , Vic Chesnutt (who Rolling Stone has called one of the greatest songwriters of all time) was notoriously difficult to spend a lot of time around. Hersh stopped by Electric Literature for an interview about the book and about losing her dear friend Vic. Bonus: for anyone unfamiliar with Chesnutt’s work, this video will get you close.
It’s a catchy idea: two rich Philadelphians, shut out of their family fortune, decide to gain new wealth by proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. It’s the plot of At the Water’s Edge, the new book by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen. Robert J. Wiersema reviewed the book in The Globe and Mail. Sample quote: “In most families, fleeing to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster would seem an odd thing to do in order to expiate a social faux pas and redeem the family honour, but the Hydes aren’t most families.”
It’s a quiet week for new books. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which famously became a blockbuster bestseller after being released as a paperback original, is now available in hardcover for the first time ever in the U.S., thanks to a new Modern Library Edition. Short story master Tessa Hadley has a new collection out, Married Love, (as a paperback original, coincidentally).