At Guernica, in an interview with Madhuri Sastry, author Claire Messud discusses her recent essay collection, finding hope in art, and the value of ordinary lives. “Who’s gonna see the handkerchief, which is literally for blowing your nose, right? And yet, this beautiful embroidery. It’s because each life is important. You might never leave the town in which you were born. You might never know anything grand. You might never have money. But in these small details, your life is made meaningful and made beautiful,” she says. “I do feel that this sense of the value of an individual life, however small, is being lost. It isn’t about it being seen by others; its integrity is in itself. That was given, that is worth preserving. And I think fiction is a place where that happens. It’s one thing to read a novel about Laura Bush, or Melania, or whatever, but most of the novels we read are about ordinary people, living ordinary lives, and that’s quite another thing.” We featured Messud’s collection, Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, as a notable new title last month.
This week in book-related infographics: Waterstones has put together an illustrated formula for the ultimate bestseller, “a thriller tale of crime, bondage and wizardry.”
“Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political.” Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.
“My wife likes to drive. I like to read aloud. So, she takes me places, and I take her places. It’s a match made in heaven — or at least in a Honda.” In honor of World Read Aloud Day, book critic Ron Charles writes about his love of reading out loud for the Washington Post. Pair with: an essay about the importance of reading aloud as adults.
Five finalists have been named for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Year in Reading alum) Joan Silber’s Fools, and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party: Stories of Rescue. One winner will be selected on April 2, 2014, and a celebratory dinner will be held in its honor on May 10. You can read up on all of the finalists over here.