If Moby Lives is right, the literary beef that erupted when Oprah selected Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections for her book club and he rejected the (in his mind, dubious) honor is about to get a curious denouement. Speculation is that Freedom is poised to become another Oprah selection. And your author suspects that Franzen will be more welcoming this time around. (Oprah sticker haters should probably buy their copies of Freedom now, just to be safe.) Update: The AP confirms and so it begins again.
Natural history is not just a grab bag; it’s not neutral, and it’s important that in fiction it not be allowed to become a playground where white people, characters, and authors can retreat into an allegorical fantasy land, as it has functioned in real life for hundreds of years with extreme consequences.
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This was the year I played catch-up. My failing as a reader has always been my near-total ignorance of contemporary authors (say, those that emerged in my own lifetime). That all changed this year thanks to some wonderful recommendations from my Millions cohorts. In no time at all I was transfixed by Alvaro Mutis (The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll) and captivated by Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex). I delved further into Ryszard Kapuscinski (Imperium), feasted on a trio of novels from the wonderful William Boyd (Brazzaville Beach, Blue Afternoon, Armadillo), and finally read Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), Edward P. Jones (The Known World), and T.C. Boyle (The Tortilla Curtain). Most if not all of these have been written about by either Max or Emre so I'll just echo them and say READ THESE.To this list I'd like to add one of my own. I was blown away, earlier this year, by the young Thai-American writer Rattawut Lapcharoensap and his short story collection Sightseeing. Set in Thailand, the seven stories present a vivid and engaging depiction of families and friends and day-to-day life. The locale is exotic, the sounds and smells permeate the pages, but the relationships are familiar, universal. It was a treat to read. [See also: Andrew's review of Sightseeing]
The 2014 National Book Award winners were announced tonight in New York City. The big prize for Fiction went to Redeployment by Phil Klay, whose stories of Iraq and Afghanistan have help lead a wave of fiction reckoning with a over a decade of war in the Middle East and America's involvement in it. The Nonfiction award went to Evan Osnos for his exploration of today's China, Age of Ambition. We took a look at the nonfiction longlist last month and wondered why nonfiction - the sort that seems to win prizes - tends to be so male dominated. The Poetry award was won by Louise Glück for Faithful and Virtuous Night. In 2013, we wrote about Glück's "words and wisdom." The winner in the Young People's Literature category was Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming. Bonus Links: Earlier in the year we dove into both the Shortlist and the Longlist to share excerpts and reviews where available.
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Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a play every day during Trump's first 100 days as president which will be published next year as 100 Plays for the First Hundred Days. She talks to American Theatre about why she decided to undertake such a project, how difficult the process was and the importance of showing up and being present. Includes excerpts from the book.