“I wanted to be really careful about not pretending to write The Transracial Adoptee’s Experience, because (1) there is no such thing, it’s going to be different for everyone, and (2) I feel strongly that those stories should be told by the adoptees themselves, if they choose to share them,” Year in Reading alum Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, in conversation with Nicole Chung.
Some heavy hitters out this week: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan; Dear Life, Alice Munro's latest collection; Woes of the True Policeman by Roberto Bolaño; The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín; and Far From the Tree, Andrew Solomon's massive follow-up to The Noonday Demon. Also out are My Ideal Bookshelf, in which figures from Judd Apatow to Jennifer Egan share about which books shaped them; Jon Meacham's biography of Jefferson; 40 years of poems by Louise Glück; a new issue of McSweeney's food mag Lucky Peach; debut The Heat of the Sun by David Rain, and She Loves Me Not, a new collection of stories by Ron Hansen.
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.") See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
“Writers are not often great lovers but pathological inventors of explanations. Sex induces a kind of cowardice in them, a fear of experimentation, of being vulnerable, of stepping naked onto the stage to examine all the presumptions that pass without question when everyone still has their pants on.” Michael Thomsen makes the case that dating writers is a bad idea.
“A name serves as a gateway to knowing someone, and usually the person with the aberrant name must create the opportunities. One way is to change her name.” S. Isabel Choi writes on why she chose to go by Isabel in high school. Pair with a piece on growing up with a Paraguayan name in the U.S.