Ling Ma’s 2018 novel, Severance, is popping up on everyone’s pandemic TBR pile, due to parallels between the fictitious “Shen Fever” and the current-day coronavirus. For the Ringer, Jane Hu looks at why this novel resonates so deeply with our contemporary situation. “While I do not begrudge anyone the catharsis of readerly projection—especially during these bizarre times—that doesn’t mean that ‘Severance: it’s just like us’ hot takes are missing the point,” Hu writes. “For as the pandemic precipitates spikes in xenophobic sentiments, any over-identification with Ma’s novel based primarily on its ethnic coordinates […] should give us pause. That its author, a Chinese American immigrant, has refrained from all media requests is perhaps telling.”
Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century, has said that he drew inspiration from the social-criticism novels of Austen, Dickens, and Balzac. According to the LA Review of Books, the new Gilded Age that Piketty critiques has generated–and will continue to generate–social novels of its own.
Three cheers to the return of storied magazines! This month, The Baffler and Collier’s made triumphant returns after lulls of 2 and 55 years, respectively. Meanwhile, over at Johns Hopkins Magazine, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains why “literary magazines still matter.” And, if you know anyone with some extra cash, they could become the next owner of Variety.