“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children’s book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain’s self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
“That little book had such an impact. It changes the course of history. When you think about how sheer accident can change so much, it’s breathtaking.” A set of Luo-language books written by President Obama’s father are up for auction until today, reports The New York Times. Written for the East African Literature Bureau,“the series uses the character Otieno, the Wise Man to offer advice on farming, healthy eating habits and other topics.” Pair with our own Janet Potter on reading presidential biographies.
Back in April, our own Sonya Chung linked to an excerpt on Bloom of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, then featured on the cover of the Sunday Times Book Review. At Bookforum, Lisa Locascio reads the book, drawing comparisons to Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist.
An unpublished novel by ESPN the Magazine editor Paul Kix will be adapted into a movie by True Detective director Cary Fukunaga. The project is known as Noble Assassin, and it will concern a French aristocrat who trains with British Special Operations in hopes of one day returning to his native country to lead the World War II resistance.
At Bookforum, Rebecca Donner talks with former Granta editor John Freeman about his new book of interviews, How to Read a Novelist. Freeman says that he enjoys interviewing writers in their homes because it allows him to observe them more closely: “The writer thinks you’re taking notes about what he’s saying, but you’re really writing, ‘His head looks like a lion’s head.’”
New this week: Tupelo Hassman’s debut Girlchild, a pair of novels — Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek — by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.