Almost 90 years after it was written, Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay is getting a chance to reach wider audiences thanks to Penguin Classics. The book’s plot seems contemporary by today’s standards, as it delves into issues of queerness and cultural displacement. For The New York Times, Talya Zax explore’s McKay’s place in the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the book’s long path to publication. “McKay belonged both to that subculture and to the movement’s mainstream. His 1928 novel Home to Harlem was the first American best seller by a black writer. But despite being seen as one of the Renaissance’s guiding lights, McKay — Jamaican, bisexual, a Marxist who grew disenchanted with communism before the rest of his cohort — also brought an outsider’s critical gaze to the movement.”
Peter Hedges, author of the novel and screenplay for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, as well as Dan in Real Life, and Pieces of April, is set to adapt and direct his latest novel, The Heights. Set in Brooklyn Heights amid its wealthy, over-zealous, stay-at-home mommy set, the novel follows a happy, slightly down-at-the-heel couple as their marriage is tested by the arrival of another woman. (All of the wit of Tom Perrotta’s Little Children, but not quite so dark and cynical.)
Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
You may have heard that Kazuo Ishiguro recently published his first novel in more than ten years. The Buried Giant, which takes place in Arthurian England, is a departure for Ishiguro, a work of overt fantasy. At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell provides his take on the book. You could also read our own Lydia Kiesling’s review.