“[S]ometimes, one of the best ways to better understand racism is to just pick up a book.” As part of a recent tweet about his availability for racial consultation, Colson Whitehead recommended an evergreen Huffington Post piece entitled “16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read“, a list that includes Claudia Rankine‘s Citizen, T. Geronimo Johnson‘s Welcome to Braggsville, and The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which we reviewed here. We hope he’s collecting referral fees.
“Why do we love our writing teachers so much? I think it’s because they come along when we need them most, when we are young and vulnerable and are tentatively approaching this craft that our culture doesn’t have much respect for, but which we are beginning to love. They have so much power. They could mock us, disregard us, use us to prop themselves up. But our teachers, if they are good, instead do something almost holy, which we never forget: they take us seriously.” George Saunders offers a timeline of his writing education over at The New Yorker.
Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries (recently reincarnated as HBO’s True Blood), talks with Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen Press and Bookstore for her interview series “The Criminal Calendar.” See the first of six YouTube installments here. Harris, like her most famous heroine, offers a mix of canny intuition and folksy charm. Asked about the bisexuality of one very old vampire in “the Sookie-verse” she answers Peters, “I figure if you live that long, you might as well diversify. Wouldn’t you get bored, you would think–you’d be willing to try anything if you live that long.”
In 2013, Mo Yan became China’s first resident Nobel Laureate in Literature, which prompted a huge swell of interest in his books in the West. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews Frog, his latest novel to get an English translation. Sample quote: “Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, says everything he needs to about the Cultural Revolution with a scene in which Tadpole and other schoolboys eat coal and claim to find it delicious.” You could also read Alan Levinovitz on modern Chinese literature.