Joy Williams wears sunglasses day and night. She does not own a computer and she corresponds by postcard. She can be irascible in interviews (one poor interviewer admitted he “cringe[d]” to publish the interview uncut because of her little digs at him). A real live kook, she is widely admired by
“I’ve written a number of essays the past few years,” Dodie Bellamy writes in her new book, When the Sick Rule the World, “and I keep vowing to quit.” We know her essay-quitting hasn’t been going well, not only because we’re reading about it in a Dodie Bellamy essay, but also because these
Novels set in a medieval past are often fleeing the realities of the present, whether they take refuge in dragon-battling heroism (The Hobbit) or fantastical sensationalism (George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire). This, of course, doesn’t mean that the authors of such books are stuck in the
In philosopher Simon Critchley’s Borges-ian novella Memory Theater, the narrator, who happens to be named Simon Critchley, discovers the papers of one Michel Haar, “a close friend and former philosophy teacher” who has recently died in a sanatorium after taking early retirement from the Sorbonne.
As the press notes (for once) correctly emphasize, Joshua Cohen is the perfect age to write a novel about the Facebook era, having lived approximately an even number of years on either side of the pre-Web/post-Web divide. He gets "kids these days" and partakes of their Net-fueled narcissism, owning it in a way that earlier writers never could, but he has the erudition and historical grounding of a much older man, equally at home with Python code, Yiddish poets, porn sites, and prehistorical fertility sculptures.
Rodney Dangerfield once had a joke that began, “I said to a bartender, ‘Make me a zombie.’” The bartender’s response: “God beat me to it.” In Aleksandar Hemon’s new novel, The Making of Zombie Wars, there are plenty of people who have been made into the walking dead without their knowing it. As for
Powered by Yiddish, neologisms, ten-dollar words, and jive talk, Oreo, Fran Ross’s scabrous, shrewd satire of race, religion, and sex that’s nested within a reimagining of Theseus’s odyssey, often threatens to jump out of the reader’s hands with its irrepressible logophilia. This is a novel
Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel asks for a kind of immersion at odds with the practices of contemporary attention-deficit culture. A Little Life is epic in scope, riveting on every page, and frequently stomach-churning in its explorations of pain and loss. The novel takes up the stories of four
Ottessa Moshfegh’s narrators exhibit a curious combination of extreme moral nihilism and a desperate need for violent, unforgettable experiences. Eileen, her new and best novel, is a love story told by a young woman who doesn’t understand love and who is leaving behind the only man she really loves,
Claudia Rankine, who won the MacArthur "Genius" grant today, explored the "anatomy of American racism in the new millennium" in Citizen, "a slender, musical book that arrives with the force of a thunderclap."