The Zambian novelist on using tropes to upend them, the power of mistakes, writing female desire, and more.
Featuring selections by Justin Taylor, Shelly Oria, Mary Walling Blackburn, Kevin Killian, Barry Schwabsky, John Freeman, and more.
“To credibly present ecstasy, pure ecstasy, is incredibly difficult. Once upon a time this wasn’t the case. This is what capitalism has done to us all—rendered earnestness—a thing of suspicion and contempt.”
The Wake—Paul Kingsnorth’s 2014 debut novel, which chronicles the life of an Anglo-Saxon during the Norman Conquest—has since gained a disturbing resonance with the recent surge and codification of nationalism that is Brexit.
The Spanish novelist confronts the monstrosity of James Earl Ray.
Partly inspired by the Greek surrealist Yorgos Makris’s 1944 manifesto, “Let’s Blow Up the Acropolis!,” Christos Chrissopoulos’s novella, The Parthenon Bomber, sets out to imagine just what might lead a young man to write himself into history by blowing up an ur-symbol of Western civilization.
Obscuring the past to get at truth in Paul La Farge’s The Night Ocean
Historical analogies between the Civil War period and our own time are plentiful in a conversation about the author’s much-anticipated first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.
It was with the printing press and Enlightenment science that history first demarcated itself from literature as a field of knowledge founded on scientific principles and archival methods.
A few years ago, I drafted two linked stories, one about Kurt Cobain and the other about Raymond Carver. Both grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Both had fathers who worked at a sawmill. Both were, in one way or another, working-class kids.
There are cities more present in the warp and weft of literature than others; that’s clear. The literary prestige of New York, Paris, or Mexico City is both undeniable and well-deserved: certain books, once read, transform forever the faces of those cities, superimposing a layer of fiction on their sidewalks and traffic signals.
”In a way, I am like some demented lawyer seeking only to get a hung jury—with the saving grace being that, when the truth is not obvious, people tend to do their most profound and significant thinking.”
“A writer worried about reception is cooking a dead book. A writer’s job is to produce the best possible book in absolute freedom, so the category ‘acceptable’ does not play in the process at all.”
The crisply constructed short stories for which David Means has become renowned are high and tight. His new—and first—novel, Hystopia, is something shaggier, departing, in its theoretical approach, from the New Yorker School of Fiction for the emerging field of narrative medicine, in which testimonies of trauma are inherently wooly and chaotic rather than refined and concise.
Jean Rombaud had the worst of all possible tasks on the morning of May 19, 1536: severing with a single blow the head of Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke and Queen of England, a young woman so beautiful she had turned the Strait of Dover into a veritable Atlantic.
He is Tom at the same time that he is too preposterous to be Tom.
Voice, vulnerability, and putting the intellect to bed.
Andrew Sean Greer on time travel and the living of life in his new novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.
It’s high noon in Bruneville. Not a cloud in the sky.