Out this week: Hunger by Roxane Gay; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; The Accomplished Guest by Ann Beattie; So Much Blue by Percival Everett; Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal; The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton; and Blind Spot by Teju Cole. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“Your shipment of personal copies will never arrive. Your publisher will not be able to track their fate, nor replace them. A week will pass and you will wander into the animal shelter at a nearby strip mall and find a dog cage lined with the urine-soaked pages of your book. Your eyes will meet the eyes of the miniature schnauzer that resides in your shredded work. You’ll think: this is fate. But the adoption center won’t approve your application because you can’t claim any substantial income.” Electric Literature has compiled the “The Ten Ways Your Life Will Change After You Publish Your First Book,” so you can’t say you weren’t warned.
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
“Just because I’m a woman, don’t assume that I automatically empathize with a brooding 20-something Elizabeth-Bennett-type protagonist. (Trust me, I don’t.) This doesn’t mean I can’t design … a biography on Susan Sontag—or, for that matter, a spy novel, a political satire, or a memoir about a Japanese game show host set in outer space. I can do all of these things. Because it’s my job to design book covers.” Over at The Literary Hub, a cover designer wonders why she’s always offered a particular type of book.
Gary Indiana posits that “no current literary label appealingly describes the kind of narratives [Renata Adler’s] Speedboat and Pitch Dark are.” This might be true. However in the name of moving forward with discussion, perhaps we can all go with Matthew Spektor’s summation of Adler’s debut novel: “if it’s ‘like’ anything at all, a steeplechase of [dazzling] hurdles could be it.”
“A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity.” LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.