Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that “scares you shitless.” In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.
“I usually let the thunderous conclusions of love scenes pass without comment, with the exception of one tussle so histrionic that to deny its participants a [JOINT CLIMAXES] seemed downright petty.” Our own Matt Seidel discusses his work as a freelancer for a captioning and transcription company at The Morning News.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” NPR reminds us of this great quote from Haruki Murakami before rounding up its five favorite books in translation for 2016, including Yoko Tawada‘s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (originally published in German) and The Clouds by Juan José Saer. And from our archives: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
Want to catch up on John Updike in a single summer?Dick Cavett reminisces about the time Updike and John Cheever appeared on his talk show… together.Clancy Martin on his failed attempt to become the world’s largest maker of Fauxbergé eggs and how he evaded the Russian police.Ward Sutton literalizes the idea of the cartoonish critique at the Barnes & Noble Review. First up: T.C. Boyle’s The Women.Street artists smell a conspiracy around the recent arrest of “Hope”-monger Shepard Fairey, the artist formerly known as Giant.On the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran, our friend Porochista Khakpour looks back.WNYC presents streaming audio (mp3 link) of Zadie Smith’s NYPL talk on then-President-elect Obama.Fresh Air’s Maureen Corrigan raves about Yu Hua’s Brothers.More heads roll in the publishing industry.How close did we come to economic apocalypse?Glamorous publishing people: “No, there is no glamour left in publishing.”Food for your ears: “The Dinner Party Download is a fast and funny ‘booster shot’ of unconventional news, cuisine and culture to help you win this weekend’s dinner party.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum was a recent guest.Amid stimulus package largess, arts getting left out in the cold.Epilogue, a new mag that marries short writings, art, and music.File under: links you probably don’t need to click on
We’ve recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. “And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs.”
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.