“She told the students not to explain too much, that they could throw in expressions in Igbo or Yoruba or pidgin and trust the reader to get it. She told them that even if a story was autobiographical it should be shaped—that, for instance, although in life you could have ten close friends, in fiction you could not, because it was too confusing. She told them to avoid inflated language—’never purchase when you can buy.'” A delightful (and somewhat rare) long profile of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the New Yorker.
To kick off 2010, we at The Millions are thrilled to announce that Emily St. John Mandel has joined us as a regular contributor. Emily lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Last Night In Montreal, was recently published by Unbridled Books; her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, will be published by the same press in May 2010. Her pieces for The Millions are collected here. Welcome Emily!
A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
At the LRB’s blog, J. Robert Lennon pays tribute to Russell Edson, the playwright, novelist and prose poet who passed away last week. Lennon recounts that Edson was that rare favorite author who he learned about thanks to a cassette tape. (If you like the blog post, you could also read Lennon’s most recent novel.)
The 2012 finalists for the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Awards have been anounced. In the “Novel” category, they are Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. The Costa site has lists of the nominees in all categories.
There’s a reason Hemingway and Fitzgerald are usually thought of as being opposites on the masculinity spectrum. Hemingway, he of the grand works about boxing and bullfighting, is perhaps the patron saint of literary manhood, while Fitzgerald was often the definition of refinement. Yet their actual identities were a little more complicated than our images of them suggest. At The Paris Review Daily, a look at how they were thought of as “real men” — or not.