“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith‘s remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether “multiculturalism” is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith’s latest novel, Swing Time, here.
Looking for a new literary podcast to fill your downtime? David Naimon’s “Between the Covers” author interview series may do the trick. The series, which appears regularly on Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 FM, is available for free on iTunes. Past guests have included Karen Russell, George Saunders, China Miéville and Junot Díaz. Forthcoming episodes will feature the likes of NoViolet Bulawayo and Jami Attenberg.
If you're tired of only getting catalogs and bills in your mailbox, ask your friends to mail their tweets. For a month, Giles Turnbull corresponded with 15 of his Twitter followers by mail. "Tweeting by post made me appreciate the online and the offline. Brevity is a good thing, but there’s no reason we should only be brief on Twitter," Turnbull writes for The Morning News. Pair with: Our roundup of literary Twitter's first tweets.
Craig Fehrman reviews Keith O'Brien’s Outside Shot, a book which follows the 2009-10 boys’ basketball team at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky. O’Brien’s book is much in the mold of Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, writes Fehrman, in that it’s concerned with a “troubled town, precarious season, political resonance” – but it’s also a book that falters under the legacy of its predecessor.
What are those crazy kids from Vampire Weekend saying in their new single, "Cousins"? It's a little disappointing, as the beleaguered translators of lyrics at We Listen For You reveal.
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it "makes people uncomfortable." The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association's "Frequently Challenged Book" list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.