At the Paris Review, Yiyun Li revisits Tolstoy‘s War and Peace and reflects on the many ways it continues to resonate throughout generations. “Books that I feel drawn to and reread, War and Peace among them, are full of uncommon sense and common nonsense,” she writes. “(Uncommon nonsense makes exhilarating literature, too, in Lewis Carroll’s case, but uncommon nonsense does better to stay uncommon: in less skillful hands, it becomes caprice or parody.) One imagines that Tolstoy did not seek to write about uncommon sense. He simply presented the world, and the world, looked at closely, is often extraordinary.”
In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
C author Tom McCarthy takes on The Pale King in the New York Times Book Review this week. Separately, though the hard cover of The Pale King shipped and appeared on shelves ahead of the announced April 15 release date, the Kindle version only became available yesterday, right on schedule.
The finalists are set and the judges have been selected, so that means that The Morning News’s Tournament of Books is officially underway. As a special bonus to Millions readers, one of this year’s deciders is our own Lydia Kiesling. Also? One of the books that made the final cut is none other than the one I told you to read a month ago.