Out this week: A new edition of Ayiti by Roxane Gay; Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata; A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza; Good Trouble by Joseph O’Neill; The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare; The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek; Fight No More by Lydia Millet; and Father’s on the Phone with the Flies by Herta Müller.
“If Earth overheats and crops and fuel become scarce, guess what? I know good bartering supplies include tampons, mercury fillings, eyeglasses. One particularly anxious day I read instructions on how to cook on my woodstove—so in the early days of environmental apocalypse and culture collapse, my family will enjoy bygone potatoes roasted over hot coals and underdone loaves of bread.” Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman prepares herself for the apocalypse.
It’s high time we acknowledge the mastery of the short story by some really fantastic American women. At LitHub, Bridget Read makes a compelling case for such writers as Lucia Berlin and Jamaica Kincaid as veritable dons of the genre. This piece pairs nicely with a recent Millions essay by Adam Boffa on terseness, Twitter, and Lydia Davis.
New this week: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld; In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey; Casebook by Mona Simpson; The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay; Vernon Downs by Jaime Clarke; and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. For more on these titles and other new releases, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Back in April, our own Sonya Chung linked to an excerpt on Bloom of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, then featured on the cover of the Sunday Times Book Review. At Bookforum, Lisa Locascio reads the book, drawing comparisons to Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist.
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]