“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
“When author Kamila Shamsie challenged the book industry to publish only women in 2018 to help address a gender imbalance in literature, just one publisher took up the challenge.” And Other Stories, an English publisher who publish translations and English language books, has decided to only publish women writers in 2018, according to the BBC. Pair with: an essay by our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee about the visibility and privacy of women writers.
Water coolers across the nation were abuzz this week with news of the James Cameron-backed and billionaire-led initiative to begin mining resources from the asteroid belt. It’s the stuff of science fiction, and it may seem hard to believe, but the company’s actually already begun hiring prospective space miners!
For The Brooklyn Rail, John Ashbery answers some questions about writing in French, crushes on boys, and the presence of “it.” As he puts it, “I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun ‘it’ without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me.”
Recommended Reading: This Atlantic article on the life of Henning Mankell, author of the Kurt Wallander series. The author said, “When I write, I always try to reflect the reality we live in, a reality that is becoming rougher and more violent. This violence and its impact on people around it is what I try to reflect in Wallander. But reality always surpasses the poem.”