Out this week: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti; Compass by Mathias Enard; The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck; Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews; and the Later Essays of Susan Sontag. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
David Risher founded the nonprofit Worldreader program in 2009 to distribute Kindles to children in the developing world. His aim was to increase literacy. Today the program has shared over 200,000 e-books with children in Ghana and Kenya, and Risher and his colleagues hope to allocate 10,000 reading devices by 2013.
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
What makes a sentence sad? At The Missouri Review blog, Aaron Gilbreath explores just why certain sentences are depressing — from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner to James Joyce’s “Eveline.” “Their emotional impact doesn’t stem solely from the combination of words. The impact often results from the circumstances of readers’ lives.” Pair with: Sam Martone’s metafictional short story about his grandmothers’ deaths, “A Second Attempt,” at Pithead Chapel.
For Perry Link, it was embarrassing to read Eileen Chang for the first time, because her work revealed things about China it took him too long to learn on his own. In The New York Review of Books, he writes about how Naked Earth, which the magazine’s publishing arm is republishing in June, cut through the jargon of Chairman Mao’s regime. FYI, Jamie Fisher wrote an essay on the book for The Millions.