Gayl Jones published her first novel, Corregidora, in 1975, which was hailed by writers like James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and John Updike—then she disappeared from the literary scene. Now she is releasing her first novel in 20 years, and at the Atlantic, Calvin Baker, takes a closer look at her fractured career. “The tentacles of slavery in the present day have grown into a principal concern of Black literature, and Jones’s early work was absorbed into this canon almost imperceptibly,” Baker writes. “Over time, her literary ambitions would evolve, as she published and then receded from the public eye, published and then receded. This spring, she self-published her first novel in 21 years—Palmares, a six-volume work about the last fugitive-slave settlement in Brazil. In mid-June, Beacon Press bought the rights to the book, with plans to release it in September 2021. In the sprawling narrative, set in the 17th century, Jones’s feats of linguistic and historical invention are on ample display.”
Lev Grossman offers some first thoughts on Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, the David Foster Wallace biography written by D.T. Max due out in September. More interestingly, Grossman wonders whether we’re nearing the death of hysterical realism, that manic, maximalist genre James Wood defined in his review of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.
“Bigger than the Zuckerberg Bump, bigger even than the Colbert Bump or the Oprah Bump—arguably the most historic bump in English publishing is the Sam Weller Bump.” A look at the surprising and overwhelming success of Dicken‘s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, from The Paris Review.
Over at The Review Review, Chuck Augello provides a useful guide for writers trying to determine where they should submit their work. He covers several aspects of the process: Identifying Potential Markets, Circulation, Evaluating the Journal, Evaluation Criteria, and Simultaneous Submissions. None are more important than the last, though: Do the Work.
The Paris Review and the 92nd Street Y have long collaborated on a series of onstage conversations with prominent authors. Now, these talks are going to be made available online as part of 92Y’s Poetry Center Online, and also on the Review’s website. Kicking off the first round of videos are talks with Garrison Keillor, Iris Murdoch, and William Styron. Look out in the coming months for more audio with the likes of Maya Angelou, Jamaica Kincaid, and Allen Ginsberg. (Bonus: 92Y has been adding heaps of content to its digital archive all month.)