At the Believer, Raven Leilani, author of Luster, discusses her desire to write Black women who actively resist conforming to society’s preconceptions about them. “I wanted to afford a Black woman the latitude to be fallible,” she says. “I wanted to write against the idea that there is a particular way to comport yourself to earn the right to empathy. Black women are especially subject to this expectation, and I think to have to expertly navigate racist and sexist terrain to survive and be denied the right to a human response is to deny that person dignity. It’s a recipe for a repressed, combustible person. I’ve been there, and I’m still unlearning that reflexive curation as we speak, so it was a relief to write a Black woman who leads with her id. It was a relief to write toward her want and rage without apology, which is, unfortunately, what some people might find unlikeable.”
New this week: The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine; The Mortifications by Derek Palacio; Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple; The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke; The Trespasser by Tana French; The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang; and Nicotine by Nell Zink. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, David Shapiro remarks on the current popularity of the marathon reading, or “a format of communal public performance that has more in common with the filibuster than the conventional literary reading.” Previously, Jeff Price wrote a piece on our site concerning the particular camaraderie that arises among participants and audience members during marathon readings. (As a bonus: I share a David Foster Wallace anecdote in the comments for that piece.)