The Millions is thrilled to welcome a new staff writer, Ismail Muhammad, whose first piece for the site publishes today. (You may have seen Ismail’s work at Zyzzyva and the Los Angeles Review of Books previously.) He splits his time between Los Angeles and Oakland, where he’s currently working on a dissertation and a novel. Find him on Twitter @trapmotives and Instagram @trapmotifs.
“The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. And on almost equal terms; for it is one of the qualities of this kind of writing that the thing that makes people read it never goes out of style.” Raymond Chandler’s 1950 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder” is a real gem.
Out this week: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay; Autumn by Ali Smith; A Separation by Katie Kitamura; 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso; The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; and Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Over in the New Statesmen, Ed Smith makes the case for increasing your productivity by making sure to get your R&R. He mentions Bertrand Russel’s In Praise of Idleness, which is my go to piece for arguing with myself against being too busy to argue with myself. Or would be, if only I could find the time.
The final installment of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, The Story of the Lost Child, hits shelves next week. Emma Adler at Electric Literature has compiled a helpful Ferrante Study Guide if you’re feeling a bit lost. Cora Currier’s Millions essay on “reading Italy” through Elena Ferrante’s body of work is an ideal complementary read.