“In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering”….you’ll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It’s full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as “Alex said he ‘wanted to plant that flag in the culture,’ and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave”. Chee’s newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.
Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
Hari Kunzru wonders whether the recent surge of attention for Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai makes him the latest talisman for the young New York literary elite. Regardless, it’s worth revisiting Paul Morton’s interview with Krasznahorkai and Adam Z. Levy’s review of his latest novel, Sátántangó.
William Carlos Williams‘s birthday was this last week, and Adam Kirsch writes about the poet for New York Review of Books. Though he argues that “today it would be hard to find a reader of poetry who would not acknowledge William Carlos Williams as one of the major American modernists” Kirsch still has to face the question, “why is it, then, that almost fifty years after his death, the reputation of [Williams] still seems to be haunted by a ghost of uncertainty?”
Book Cover Roundup, Item #1: Each year The Millions publishes a high stakes face-off between the UK and US covers of books featured in The Morning News’ Tournament of Books (2014, 2013, 2012). Now, for Sarah Hemfrey’s research on book covers in the publishing industry, it’s your turn to be the judge. Item #2: if Harry Potter is more your style, that whole series is getting new cover designs, too.
My essay on Zadie Foster Franzenides and the current state of literary aesthetics is in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine.