For Garden and Gun, poet Jericho Brown discusses how the push and pull of the South fuel his powerful work. The Louisiana-born writer looks back on his career, focusing on the ways the South repeatedly influences his poetry. “I’m interested in—what is that word? Posterity,” Brown says. “I’m almost ashamed to say it, but when I die, I want to die in the South and I want people to think of me, if anybody ever thinks of me, to think of me in contrast to and in context of this place. That’s important to me.”
“McDonald’s, I am here and I am hungry, feed me, let me eat it all and let me eat it now! Oh, what a hymn, what a hallelujah you sing to me, two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.” Michael Murray imagines “Jack Kerouac‘s Lost Restaurant Reviews” for Hazlitt and they are absolute joys.
“Many of the most powerful characters in our best-loved stories are orphaned, adopted, fostered, or found. At the same time, many of the most powerless citizens in our society are orphaned, adopted, or fostered children, and the marginalized adults that so many become. Why have so few of us even noticed this centuries-old disparity?” On literature’s most celebrated protagonists, from Oliver Twist to Anne of Green Gables.
Jon McGregor has won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, otherwise known as the richest literary prize in all the land*, for his novel Even the Dogs. To check out the rest of the pool, you can revisit our coverage of both the long and shortlist for the prize. (McGregor’s tweet about this whole affair was pretty grand, by the way.) [*Ed note: a reader in the comments below has disputed this claim.]
Mama Hope, a group that works with local African organizations “to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities,” has released a great promo featuring four young men who are tired of Hollywood’s African stereotypes. Their complaints are reminiscent of those enumerated in Binyavanga Wainaina’s classic essay “How to Write about Africa,” and also in Laura Seay’s great article from last week, “How Not to Write About Africa.”
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Out this week: The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee; Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li; Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez; Running by Cara Hoffman; The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan; Last Day On Earth by Eric Puchner; and The World to Come by Jim Shepard. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.