A new generation of African women writers are taking on the task of narrating their histories and imagining their futures. For the Christian Science Monitor, Ryan Lenora Brown delves into the ways these writers are rewriting the historical epic. “This is a generation [of African writers] that isn’t just writing about colonialism and postcolonialism, or just looking at African governance and its failures,” says Petina Gappah, a Zimbabwean writer and author of the novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light. “We write history. We write romance. We write science fiction. In this generation we have gained the freedom to write about the things that American and European authors write about, which is to say anything we choose.”
It’s extremely difficult to keep up with all of the books being published each day, so many thanks to the New York Times for this list of the latest in science fiction and fantasy. Now seems like as good a time as any to remind you about our Great Second-Half of 2016 Book Preview since we still have a bit of time left in the year.
“Here’s a challenge for you: find a book jacket that features an image of a woman over 40.” Despite being one of the biggest consumers of books, The Guardian writes about the lack of middle-aged women on book jackets. Pair with: an essay on the sexy-backed, faceless-woman book cover trend.
“The second prophecy was even more intense than the first one, and introduced a lot of new rules I didn’t even know existed, but everyone else seemed to kind of already know about them. But you know what? We’re a misfit band of teens who will do anything for each other now, like stand up to that town bully who’s not even scary to us anymore, now that we’ve faced pure evil and lived.” An excerpt of Mallory Ortberg’s best-selling YA novel.
Clusty has unveiled a very cool Shakespeare search engine, allowing one to sift through all the bard’s works with the push of a button.The Washington Post is hosting live lunchtime chats with various authors over the next two weeks to coincide with the 2006 National Book Festival. The highlight: Geraldine Brooks, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The March on Thursday.Just announced: Another Hannibal book from Thomas Harris called Hannibal Rising, prompting Ed to call Harris “The Laziest Titler in the Publishing Industry.”
Four days ago, The New York Times exposed the practice of purchasing five-star reviews on Amazon. So far, few have offered solutions. A Reddit user explains how to properly read Amazon review graphs through the cloud of purchased hype. Erin Keane calls for independent writers to hold themselves to higher standards.
On Zadie Smith in the Guardian: The new novel arrived fully-formed: Zadie Smith woke up one morning, and On Beauty was all there, in her head. She wanted to write a long marriage – she’d just got married herself, was curious what 30 years of it would be like – and she had a plot. When she described it to her new husband, poet and novelist Nick Laird, however, he pointed out she was simply rewriting Howards End. But she has never been afraid of tribute, and [E.M.] Forster was a “first love”; she had a couple of serious wobbles but this did not put her off.The Guardian also gives the book a good review. On Beauty comes out September 13.Every once in a while I spot an interesting looking item in those ads at the top of the page. Today I saw one for Out of Eden: Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick. It looks like the sort of book you’d like if you like Jared Diamond’s books. It describes how different invasive species have managed to relocate to new parts of the globe.Tattoos and literature are becoming ever more enmeshed, it seems. Recent novels by Jill Ciment and John Irving dwell on tattoos, and now a Brooklyn writer, Shelley Jackson, “has been having volunteers tattooed with individual words of her 2,095-word short story (“Skin”) since 2003. Only 700 words remain to be tattooed.” Read about it here.Another online book-tracking and tagging application: Reader2
Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is now out in the U.S. Also new this week are John D’Agata’s much-discussed Lifespan of a Fact, Sarah Manguso’s The Guardians, Ellen Ullman’s By Blood and The Boiling Season by Christopher Hebert, who has an essay up on our site today. The new memoir by Anthony Shadid has seen its release date pushed up to this week. See our remembrance of Shadid. Finally, it’s Christmas for baseball fans: the 2012 Baseball Prospectus is out.