“It’s a book about fathers that has few good ones on display. It’s a book about language that cannot decide among many. It’s a book about bargains in which no character makes a wise one.” On Aravind Adiga’s new novel Selection Day.
Recommended Reading: A piece of new fiction by Joanthan Safran Foer! Go check out "Maybe It Was the Distance" over at The New Yorker. Here's a review of Foer's Tree of Codes by Kevin Nguyen for The Millions which calls the format of the book, "a wonderful experiment in what a book can be, and also home to a mediocre novel."
If you're a professor or mentor, it's the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson's recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. "He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends." Even if the government didn't like Whitman's work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne's essay on the power of Whitman's poetry.
Ever since Pulphead, we can't get enough of John Jeremiah Sullivan, so we're happy to hear he's at work on his next book, The Prime Minister of Paradise. Sullivan will tell the story of Christian Priber, a German American who tried to establish a utopia in 18th century South Carolina. "This man, he really represented the height of the enlightenment at the time," Sullivan said during a recent interview at Notre Dame. No word on an official release date yet, but it's already being optioned for film by Scott Rudin.
New this week: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis; The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler; I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit; and Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
"Internet reading takes up my time without my setting that time aside for it, and fills me with images and thoughts that I don’t perceive going in, like radiation... In these online minutes or hours, I drift along with my mouth open, absorbing whatever’s floating by, never chewing or even swallowing, just letting it all seep pre-chewed into me": an elegant argument against reading about books before you read the books in question at Electric Literature. (But we hope you'll continue to read The Millions anyway.)