“He was surely the greatest literary editor there has ever been – brilliant, autocratic, endlessly curious and possessed of an extraordinary fund of knowledge about a vast range of subjects. True, he was not always easy to deal with, but when has the best ever been easy?” John Banville on the late Robert Silvers.
“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.
Former Brat Packer Molly Ringwald makes her literary debut with When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories this week. Also out this week, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by comedy writer turned novelist Maria Semple, The St. Zita Society by Edgar Award-winner Ruth Rendell, and, in non-fiction, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall.
From the book I'm reading right now: "My mother's output, starred and pseudonymous, appeared regularly in one of those little, irregular periodicals so limited in readership that they might be called incestuous. Subscription was by invitation only, and contributors would go into a rage over a misplaced comma and brood for days if their poems were understood."
“Usually, with a novel, you start with no idea what to do because your job is to create convincing characters and then they just run around getting crazy. The problem with writing a memoir, obviously, is you can’t do that because you sort of know what’s going to happen. Because you’re the character.” – Gary Shteyngart
A while back, Frank Ocean alluded to the possibility of one day writing a novel. Asked by Guardian interviewer Rebecca Nicholson about his immediate plans following the success of his last album, Channel Orange, the musician replied, “I might just write a novel next.” The response seemed unserious. But now, in Jeff Himmelman’s long profile of Ocean for The New York Times Magazine, it appears the idea may have a bit more traction. “It’s fiction,” says Ocean. “And it’s about brothers.”
Out this week: The Early Stories of Truman Capote; Slade House by David Mitchell; After Alice by Gregory Maguire; Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell; The British Lion by Tony Schumacher; We Five by Mark Dunn; and a book of quotations by Cheryl Strayed. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.