What did we read in the Obama era? Christian Lorentzen has some answers. Apart from individual books like The Flamethrowers and The Art of Fielding, he comes up with some genres that have dominated the past eight years, including autofiction, works of trauma and fables of meritocracy. (You can probably guess where Leaving the Atocha Station ends up.)
At Guernica, Kirsten O’Regan delves into labiaplasty, a “relatively unregulated, frequently botched” and scarily popular new surgery. The oddest (and saddest) thing she learns about the procedure? Apparently a lot of young mothers urge their daughters to do it.
“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
B|ta’arof Magazine recently launched its inaugural issue. The publication arrives “in response to the absence of a printed space, in English, for social comment, reflection and shared experience among the Iranian community.” You can preview the first issue and read their calls for submissions on their website, and I also encourage you to read up on the magazine’s Persian namesake.
From The Guardian, a look at eighty years of book cover design by Faber and Faber.
“To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.” Digital pioneer and theorist Jaron Lanier fears that the Internet might be destroying not just literature, but also the middle class.
From one great publication to another: The Atlantic gushes over the “phenomenal” New York Review of Books.