The Goldfinch, Multicultural Fantasy.

Joy Castro, whom I’ve profiled before (and whose memoir I thought was one of my favorite books I read in 2012), has written a thoughtful critique of The Goldfinch’s rather concerning record on everything non-white: Why would a novel set primarily in New York and Las Vegas exclude people of color from any roles that aren’t […]

Acacia Trees and Sunsets.

Great cover montage of how many novels taking place in Africa fall in the same cover tropes: sunsets and acacia trees. Although Half a Yellow Sun got that treatment, at least Adiche’s Americanah (a really excellent novel that everybody should read) at least got a different cover. Of course, Americanah mostly took place stateside.

Peter Matthiessen.

Peter Matthiessen has died. Now would be a great time to read this interview over at The Paris Review: INTERVIEWER Can you say which writers have influenced your work? MATTHIESSEN A terrible confession—none. Try as I might to claim some creditable literary lineage, I find no trace that I can recognize in my writing. I don’t […]

“March Madness for Book Nerds.”

My penultimate (for this year, I promise) post on the Tournament of Books: a great short commentary at the Chicago Reader by Aimee Levitt, quoting extensively from that great Lydia Kiesling judgment. Watch out, because the finals are coming up Friday (March 28). Yours truly gets a vote in the final. Mouth/lips: sealed.

Walser in disguise.

A nice—and fantastically timed, for me—piece on the new NYRB Classic edition of Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories at The Millions: The text opens with an introduction by Walser that begins: “The boy who wrote these essays passed away not long after he left school.” Then follows 20 essays on discrete topics all […]

Rooster and The Rooster.

I am intrigued by this new app, Rooster: Like your trusted friend who always has great recommendations, we take the guesswork out of choosing your next read. Each month, we pair our contemporary selection with a classic. Both are great on their own and together they’re even better, like a fine cheese with the perfectly […]

By the Book: Teju Cole.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight this recent By the Book feature—one of the great book-related features on the web—since it has one of the most talented writers working today, Teju Cole. While he generated a lot of interesting reading leads, he also has some insightful  comments on Twitter: It’s such a combative place […]

The Tenth Tournament of Books.

Today marks the first matchup of the Tenth Tournament of Books, also known as “literary bloodsport” or “ToBX.” Author Geraldine Brooks has to pick between Life After Life and Woke Up Lonely. Yours truly is judging one of the quarterfinals. It’s surreal to see my name up there with the rest of the judges.

“The Largesse of the Sea Maiden.”

Denis Johnson has a new story out in the New Yorker (subscription required) this week—and it’s a doozy. It’s one of those stories—at least for me—that leave me in a sort of stunned silence after reading. I’m not sure what I think, but being “stunned” is almost always a good thing. While the title leaves something to […]

“A shove back.”

Palooka Magazine editor Jonathan Starke, in an interview with HTMLGiant: This magazine was really founded as a shove back against what’s happening in the literary magazine world. We wanted work that was relevant, that felt like it was breaking new ground. We don’t care about what it should be, because it shouldn’t be anything except […]