First published in 1979, Octavia E. Butler‘s Kindred remains a touchstone of speculative fiction. For Ploughshares, Kat Solomon takes a closer look at how Butler uses time travel to reckon with the main character’s family history of slavery in the antebellum South. “Like much great speculative fiction,” Solomon writes, “the fantastic in Kindred functions as both an opportunity for the unfolding of an unusual story while also serving as a kind of foundational metaphor, in this case for the ways that the history of slavery continues to assert itself in the present.”
New this week: 4321 by Paul Auster; The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker; Mr. Iyer Goes to War by Ryan Lobo; The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld; and The Evenings by Gerard Reve. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
A controversial new book art exhibit is set to open at the Mansfield Library of the University of Montana on January 7th. The show, “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate,” comprises works by 100 artists all of which are made out 4000 books published by a white supremacist organization, The Church of the Creator, and sold to the Montana Human Rights Network by a disaffected member. Read the strange story of the genesis of the exhibition and see some of the works here.
Out this week: Labor of Love by Moira Weigel; Little Labors by Rivka Galchen; Unforbidden Pleasures by Adam Phillips; Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore; Letters to Kevin by Stephen Dixon; and The Fat Artist and Other Stories by Benjamin Hale. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
How was Charlotte Brontë at 8? According to her school reports, she “‘[wrote] indifferently’ and ‘[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments”. Of course, she went on to write Jane Eyre, and as The Guardian points out, many a famous writer received middling reports in school, so maybe there’s hope for other “indifferent’ writers.