In her new book, Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid used her own experience as a babysitter to explore the transactional relationship that exists when caring for someone’s child. Reid spoke to Concepción de León at The New York Times about the clashes of race and class that drive the action in her novel. “I definitely started from wanting to explore the awkwardness of transactional relationships,” Reid says, “but also bigger themes of ownership, from the small petty ones like ‘Oh, well, she’s our sitter’ or ‘I knew him, so he’s mine,’ to the awkward history of black women raising white children in this country. That just comes flooding back, no matter whether you like it or not, in certain interactions.”
Recommended Reading: Blake Morrison on the literature of England’s flood-prone east coast.
Following its interview with Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Bookforum published its review of the author’s debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase. As in many other books that take place in the post-Cold War age, the plot centers on a group of Ukrainian immigrants, fresh out of the former Soviet Union, who set up new lives in America. However, despite the subject matter, it’s a bit too reductive, Chloé Cooper-Jones writes, to classify the book as an immigrant novel. For more on the book, read Matthew Wolfson’s Millions review.
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
Franzen fans: Freedom, the long-awaited follow-up to The Corrections is now available for pre-order. The specs: 576 pages, August 31st 2010. “Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.”
Writing in The Guardian, Colm Tóibín explores the “inspiring, rivalrous, Oedipal” relationships between authors and their parents. The article’s been adapted from his forthcoming book, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families