Yesterday marked eight years since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti and a few days ago Trump put the country back in the news (but not in an reflective or uplifting way). Looking to learn more about Haiti sans racist rhetoric? The New York Times has “three books by Haitian writers that provide insight into the country’s history of struggle and resistance.” Find the list here.
“From this bleak backdrop unspools West Of Sunset, Stewart O’Nan’s sparkling and frequently delightful fictionalized take on those years. It’s a setting that’s near impossible for culture buffs to resist; for a certain subset of nerd, this is a sort of literary Avengers, collecting Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker alongside O’Nan’s delicate and sensitive portrayals of Fitzgerald and wife Zelda, to say nothing of Humphrey Bogart and a cameo by Katharine Hepburn, eating soup.”
New this week: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Hermann Koch; I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin; The Book of Unknown Americans by Year in Reading alum Cristina Henríquez; In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds; The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh; The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Helen O’Neill; and two new books, Paper Lantern and Ecstatic Cahoots, by Stuart Dybek.
As we noted here recently about the rise and fall of Motown, the real issue was money — who earned it, who kept it, who never saw it. Now Barrett Strong, who co-wrote and sang the Detroit label’s first hit in 1959, “Money (That’s What I Want),” tells The New York Times that he never saw a penny of royalties for a song that became a classic and generated millions of dollars for the label. Strong’s story is the story of Motown boiled down to its bitter, ironic essence.
An English student at the University of Texas has unearthed previously unpublished writing from Jupiter Hammon, the first published African-American poet. Some of Hammon’s work – which dates back to 1760 – can be found online courtesy of The Poetry Foundation: “A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death” and “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.”
Open City, which is published by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, is awarding $5,000 grants to “talented Asian American emerging writers looking to hone their creative nonfiction skills by engaging directly with contemporary New York.” The application deadline is April 8.
Congratulations to Millions staffer Edan Lepucki, who sold her debut novel California to Little, Brown at auction this week. The novel, which Edan refers to as “Novel #2” in her article “What Happens When a Book Doesn’t Sell,” will follow a young married couple grappling with a post-apocalyptic world. Consider us extra relieved given Edan’s proclamation in that article: “And this new book, it will be published. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll just die.”