Once a decade, Granta publishes a special “Best of Young American Novelists” issue featuring work from American fiction writers under the age of forty. The latest list includes Millions staffer and City on Fire author Garth Risk Hallberg, as well as Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Claire Vaye Watkins, to name just a few. The issue will hit shelves on May 4th.
Robert Perišic’s Our Man in Iraq made it onto the first installment of our Great 2013 Book Preview. A few weeks ago, Perišic sat down for an interview with John Feffer about ongoing changes in the author’s native Croatia, which recently acceded to the EU as its 28th member state.
Back in 2013, Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Millions about an old sci-fi novel that correctly predicted the future. Since then, he’s embarked on an ambitious project that expands on his interest in sci-fi, exploring how the most radical sci-fi writers of the sixties paved the way for much of modern fiction. As he puts it, “I focus on this era in the history of sci-fi because it laid the groundwork for one of the most important developments in current-day fiction.”
Meet Ant-Roach, an inflatable clackety six-legged robot with a protruding proboscis whose goal is to demonstrate the high strength-to-weight ratios of inflatable platforms. Can we say kid’s birthday parties?
When Electric Literature tells me that Jonathan Lee has “unleashed a literary bombshell of a novel,” I set aside my skepticism of the hyperbolic and give it a look. Lee’s High Dive “asks us to look at the plethora of thought and self-indulgence—that beautiful minutia—that flourishes in an unharmed life, and to consider how much generous freedom there is in nonviolence.”
A while back, our own Mark O’Connell argued that Flann O’Brien, in The Poor Mouth, was the funniest writer who ever lived. Now, in an essay, Erin Somersin says the title should go to Mordecai Richler instead. She writes about the Canadian author’s unique sense of humor in a piece for the Ploughshares blog.
Amazon has given its entire front page over to a “letter” from CEO Jeff Bezos touting Dan Brown’s forthcoming gnostic thriller The Lost Symbol. It’s a mix of hyperbole and “thrilling” intrigue. My favorite excerpts: “This is one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time.” “The book remains so deeply under wraps that we’ve agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry.” Bezos goes on to promise that Amazon will deliver Kindle owners the book “wirelessly while [they] sleep.”
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.