The British are Coming: Quercus Books arrives on US shores, debuting with Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex, a gripping and extremely intelligent thriller that will fully engage, mercilessly shock, and unexpectedly surprise its readers from its first page to its last.
The Song is You, by Arthur Phillips, is a book about music and love – the grand, sweeping stuff. So you might be surprised at how controlled the writing is. Not that I was expecting the book to play a cloying tune when I opened it, like one of those oversized Hallmark cards, but I did somehow expect it to be more… well, musical. The 2006 movie Once is an example – one I thought of often while reading this – of how music can surge viscerally through a love story and vice versa, though of course a film has certain advantages in evoking song that a book does not.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Strout, whose Olive Kitteridge, a collection of linked stories (billed as a “novel in stories”) about a curmudgeonly retired schoolteacher in Maine, has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Finalists included Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves and Christine Schutt’s All Souls. You can read an excerpt from Olive Kitteridge here and the NY Times review here.
Travis Holland talks with fiction master Tobias Wolff about the pleasures and anxieties of influence, the changing societal role of writer-celebrities, and the reasons Wolff has “always been attracted to the incisiveness, velocity, exactitude, precision of the short story.”
In this masterful debut novel, Hannah Tinti beguiles without the slightest trace of the maudlin. Readers will fall in love with Ren, a one-handed orphan boy who works for grave-robbers and longs for a family, and with North Umbrage–a 19th-century New England town where widows press their ears to the earth to listen for their husbands, trapped long ago in a mine collapse.
Warm congratulations to Hannah Tinti! Check out the story here. Bonus: Hannah is guest-teaching my fiction workshop tomorrow. As a longtime fan of her work (and a One Story subscriber) I am thrilled to formally meet her and introduce her to my students. And a review of the dazzling The Good Thief is forthcoming (this weekend or next week) on FWR.
Congratulations to Peter Matthiessen, whose novel Shadow Country just captured the 2008 NBA in Fiction. In this interview (conducted after his book was named a finalist), Mattheissen describes his writing process and shares why he thinks fiction matters. Interviewer Bret Anthony Johnston asked the author what the “engine” behind his novel was: BAJ: For some writers, the engine that powers their fiction is character. For others, it’s language. For others still, the engine might loosely be called “theme.” Do you identify with any of those? What sparked the initial idea for you? PM: Very important as those are, the seed […]
Ever wonder how someone could wake up every morning next to George W. Bush and think, “Hey, I love that guy!”? Yeah, me too. Which is exactly why I couldn’t wait to read American Wife, in which Curtis Sittenfeld imagines the life of Laura Bush.
In Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, the most sharply drawn, most enticing character is contemporary Beijing itself, its “cramped side streets where the walls were like the scales of fish–tall shelves tightly packed with pirated discs.” The city and the promise behind it sparkle in Guo’s descriptions, which are sharp, fresh, and free of clichéd exoticism.
This beautiful novel by one of my favorite short-story writers follows the adventures of 22-year-old Lillian Leyb, a recent survivor of a Russian pogrom, from New York’s Lower East Side to Seattle to the remotest parts of Alaska, where she hopes to get a boat to Siberia. (The story is set in the 1920s.) After her husband and parents were murdered before her eyes and her small daughter lost in the fray (and sought for some time), Lillian emmigrated, hoping to escape her haunted past and carve out a life for herself in New York. But just as Lillian’s getting […]