Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin’s family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children’s books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer’s guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
What did we read in the Obama era? Christian Lorentzen has some answers. Apart from individual books like The Flamethrowers and The Art of Fielding, he comes up with some genres that have dominated the past eight years, including autofiction, works of trauma and fables of meritocracy. (You can probably guess where Leaving the Atocha Station ends up.)
At the Paris Review Daily, a post on what bloggers owe Montaigne: “There seems no end to the appeal of the essayist’s basic idea: that you can write spontaneously and ramblingly about yourself and your interests, and that the world will love you for it.” (via Book Bench)
Recommended Reading: Louise Erdrich’s new short story in The New Yorker, “The Big Cat,” which is about snoring among other things. “The women in my wife’s family all snored, and when we visited for the holidays every winter I got no sleep.” Deborah Treisman also interviewed Erdrich about the story. “I like the idea that this story reads like a fairy tale, but there is no moral at all, unless it’s Beware of Snoring Cats. Nothing I write ever has a moral.”
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
The “Millennials are ruining everything” think piece has become a bit of a trope at this point, so it’s refreshing when you find one that says something new. This piece on the serious danger of losing serious readers to their cellphone screens is well worth the read.