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Top Book Blogs 04/2014

[Guardian Books Blog] Patricia Highsmith's criminal neglect
Film adaptations mean she's not unknown, but her tense and unsettling thrillers deserve a much wider readershipIt looks as though we're about to see a resurgence of interest in American crime writer Patricia Highsmith and frankly, it's about time. This month brings the re-release of her book The Two

[The Millions] Tuesday New Release Day: Coover; Donoghue; Huneven; Glass; Coupland; Osborne; Waldman
New this week: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Frog Music by Emma Donoghue; Off Course by Michelle Huneven; And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass; Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland; The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne; and Love & Treasure by Ayelet

[The Millions] Afghanistan’s Secret Feminism, Through Verse
Underneath W.H. Auden’s dictum that “poetry makes nothing happen” is a familiar anxiety: perhaps poetry has no effect, and means nothing outside of its own closed circuit. As a counterpoint, we might consider Zarmina Muska: a teenage girl from Afghanistan, Muska set herself on fire in 2010

[Guardian Books Blog] Lady Chatterley's ale lover naming a literary pub
DH Lawrence's home town has named a new inn after his most famous novel. What would you like to read on a pub sign?The DH Lawrence Society is an august institution based in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, the former coalmining town where Lawrence was born in 1885. So when it teamed up with the local

[Salon Books] The despicable rise of conservative pranksters: Race-baiting & conspiracy theories in the age of Obama
The history of political pranks is littered with lefty characters. Conservatives, on the other hand, do not gravitate toward irreverent hijinks. One exception is James O’Keefe, a right-wing prankster who uses hidden cameras to stage encounters with his ideological enemies. At the same time that

[Guardian Books Blog] Khaled Hosseini live Q&A
On Wednesday 2 April at 4pm, the author of The Kite Runner and UN refugee agency ambassador will be live online. Post your questions on anything from the refugee crises affecting Syria, South Sudan and other countries to the wider challenges facing people displaced by humanitarian crisis and

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Science and society
Combating bad science

[Guardian Books Blog] Khaled Hosseini live Q&A
On Wednesday 2 April at 4pm, the best-selling author of the Kite Runner and UN refugee agency ambassador will be live online. Do you have a question about the refugee crises in Syria, Somalia or South Sudan? Are you eager to understand more about the challenges facing people displaced by

[The Millions] Post-Lit
Though Kim Gordon is mostly known for her time in Sonic Youth, she’s also an artist and writer, one who’s racked up art projects and publications over the course of the past forty years. At Full-Stop, Hestia Peppe reviews Is It My Body?, a new collection of Gordon’s essays and other written

[Guardian Books Blog] Kawergosk refugee camp's hope in the face of tragedy
The displaced Syrians I met in northern Iraq know the farthest extremes suffering, but are coping with great dignityLive webchat with Khaled Hosseini, Wednesday 2 April at 4pmI set the The Kite Runner against a backdrop of the troubled history of Afghanistan over the last three decades. The story of

[The Millions] Not a Good Influence
Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea — as close

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Cristen Hemingway Jaynes and John Hemingway discuss their family's legacy

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: A genius awareness
We need to keep talking

[The Millions] Song of Myself
At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell delves into the history of the self-interview, which you can find many examples of over at The Nervous Breakdown. Mark cites examples of self-interviews by prominent writers, including Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Year in Reading alum John

[The Millions] On New Afghan Writing: An Interview with Adam Klein
Left to Right: Contributors: Helai Rahim; Hoshang Sulaimanzada; Fazilhaq Hashimi; Ali Shah Hasanzada; Adam Klein; Khalid Ahmad Atif Fiction writer Adam Klein first conceived the story collection, The Gifts of the State: An Anthology of New Afghan Writing, while living in Kabul teaching writing

[Guardian Books Blog] Tips, links and suggestions: What are you reading this week?
Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them Welcome to this week's blog. We begin with the unexpected. DotGumbi sent us this cheeky shot of her reading a fan fiction mash-up of Jurassic Park and Pulp Fiction.Reading a bonkers mash-up.Sent via GuardianWitness By

[The Millions] Playing the Victim
The Empathy Exams, a new collection of essays by Leslie Jamison, gets its title from a piece about medical acting that was published in The Believer. On the Harper’s blog, you can read an interview with Jamison, who calls her collection “a refusal to choose between these approaches —

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Economic damnation in Europe
No exit from the euro-rescuing trap?

[The Millions] The Chosen Ones
“The second prophecy was even more intense than the first one, and introduced a lot of new rules I didn’t even know existed, but everyone else seemed to kind of already know about them. But you know what? We’re a misfit band of teens who will do anything for each other now, like stand up to

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: An April Fool’s recap; Jonah Lehrer opens up (for free!)
Jonah Lehrer, who resigned from the New Yorker in 2012 after it was revealed that he had made up quotes, has virtuously turned down a speaking fee for a talk he’ll give this week at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. According to William Payne, head of UMD’s School of Fine Arts, Lehrer plans

[The Millions] Lost In The Sierras: On Michelle Huneven’s Off Course
The epigraph of Michelle Huneven’s fourth novel, Off Course, reads like a warning: If a woman in her late twenties hasn’t found an absorbing occupation, and if, restless or adventurous, she begins to drift, she flirts with peril; for this is a vulnerable age, when demons present, singly and in

[The Millions] April Books: A Reading List for Rebirth and Taxes
Even before it became officially so in the United States, April has long been the poet’s month. “April” (or “Aprill”) is the third word of one of the first great poems in the English language, The Canterbury Tales, and the first word in The Waste Land, which does its

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Marxism holds new appeal
The relevance of Marxist academics

[The Millions] Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys Arrives
After some initial mystery leading up to publication, Michael Lewis’s new book Flash Boys is here and its subject is high-speed trading (sometimes called “high-frequency trading) that uses supercomputers and complex trading algorithms to attempt to generate profits through brute force.

[Guardian Books Blog] April's Reading group: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Selecting a single play from so many works of genius was always going to be tricky, and it was a busy vote, but this one should go down a stormDeciding this month's Reading Group choice by vote wasn't one of my greatest ideas. I didn't take account of how hard it is to choose between Shakespeare's

[The Millions] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Film Them
If eight Harry Potter movies weren’t enough, we can expect three new Warner Brothers films about J.K. Rowling’s spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The trilogy will feature the magical zoologist Newt Scamander as he goes on adventures in New York 70 years prior to the

[The Millions] The Opposite of #AmWriting
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and

[NYT] Karen Joy Fowler Wins PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize
Ms. Fowler won the $15,000 prize for her novel "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves."

[Book Forum] VIDEO: William S. Burroughs: 100 Years

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: It's never too early to wonder
Living life by the book

[The Millions] Beckett’s Bones
80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will

[The Millions] Karen Joy Fowler wins 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award
Karen Joy Fowler has won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for her novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. A celebratory dinner will be held in her honor on May 10.

[The Millions] Waffle House Accuracy
If your characters go on a road trip, do you have to take one, too? When Mary Miller wrote The Last Days of California about a family driving from Alabama to California to meet the rapture, she hadn’t even been to the desert herself. To ensure it was accurate, though, she mapped important

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The Caribbean from a distance
Indigenous South Americans, Africans and Europeans all left a little bit of themselves in the Caribbean basin

[The Millions] Pulling an Updike
Authors are known to mine material from their personal relationships for their writing, but John Updike found inspiration from his interviews. After journalist William Ecenbarger wrote a profile of Updike in 1983, he found himself the subject of an Updike short story. Pair with: Our review of

[Salon Books] Karen Russell: “I like that I still get to be young!”
Even huge success in the literary world, it turns out, won't help you sleep at night.Karen Russell, the MacArthur "genius grant" recipient and Pulitzer nominee, has just released a novella, "Sleep Donation," via web platform the Atavist. It's set in a dystopian world in which crippling insomnia can

[Salon Books] Lessons from Stephen King and “Valley of the Dolls”: Reading 100 years of bestsellers
When Matthew Kahn, a creative writing student at California State University at Northridge, learned from one of his professors that the bestselling book of 1926 was "The Private Life of Helen of Troy" by John Erskine, he was struck. The class wasn't reading it, but the book they were reading, "The

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: Categorical Imperative
A German portrait photographer's attempt to capture his country and its archetypes

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Ted Cruz’s $1.5 million book deal…
Texas senator and Tea Partier Ted Cruz has sold a book to HarperCollins for close to $1.5 million. Cruz has yet to write the book, but apparently it will be “part memoir and part Cruz’s view of how to get Washington to work again as well as his vision of the future for the country.” ...

[Lit Saloon] Urs Widmer (1938-2014)
       Swiss author Urs Widmer has passed away; see for example the mention in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.        For more about Widmer, see Deviation from the Norm, or the Realistic Fantast: A look at the work of writer Urs

[Lit Saloon] Ted Hughes estate
       As, for example, reported by Richard Lea in The Guardian, Ted Hughes estate withdraws biographer's access, as they've decided Jonathan Bate can't quote from the copyrighted estate-papers; as a consequence, Faber will not be publishing the planned book (but

[Lit Saloon] Talking to Ourselves review
       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Andrés Neuman's Talking to Ourselves, published by Pushkin Press in the UK and due out shortly from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US.        Neuman is

[Lit Saloon] April online issues
       Among the April issues of online periodicals now available is Words without Borders', with Writing from South Korea (plus some 'Poets of Protest'), and the April issue of Open Letters Monthly.        Print publication the

[Lit Saloon] German Book Prize, preliminary figures
       They've announced that there are 167 novels in the running for this year's German Book Prize, the biggest German book- (as opposed to author-)prize; in unaccountable Man Booker fashion, however, they don't reveal what the books are (why not ? why not ? why

[Lit Saloon] Reason in a Dark Time review
       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dale Jamieson explaining Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed - and What It Means for Our Future, in Reason in a Dark Time, just out from Oxford University Press.

[Lit Saloon] Sheikh Zayed Book Awards
       They've announced the winners of the well-endowed (each category-winner receives the equivalent of ca. US$200,000) Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, and the literature (i.e. fiction) prize went to بعد القهوة

[Lit Saloon] Birgit Vanderbeke Q & A
       In the Irish Times they have a Q & A with Birgit Vanderbeke, whose The Mussel Feast has been longlisted for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (see also the Peirene Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

[Lit Saloon] Classics in ... Indonesia
       In the Jakarta Post Gindho Rizano has an opinion piece arguing: Wanted in the bookstores: Literary canon, pointing out: Now browse through our regular local bookstores; you will find contemporary local books and translated bestsellers. However, classics are

[Lit Saloon] 'African' literature
       In The Standard the Bookworm-column wonders: is the Caine Prize stifling African literature ? -- that being the Caine Prize for African Writing, the leading African story-prize.        Some reasonable points here (to which

[Guardian Books Blog] Books that make you cry: share your weepiest moments
Whether desolate or stirring, what are the lines in literature that turn on your tear ductsThere's a new anthology out shortly, called Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. Now, poems provide easy pickings in the sob stakes Dover Beach, Ode to Immortality, Donal Og, The River Merchant's Wife. But what

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