On The Books: New Ian McEwan novel 'The Children Act'

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Image Credit: Alex Bailey

Ian McEwan, the award-winning author of Atonement, has announced a new novel called The Children Act to be published on September 9, 2014. McEwan has written 15 books, including Amsterdam, which won the Man Booker Prize, Solar, The Child in Time and The Comfort of Strangers. His most recent novel, Sweet Tooth, about a beautiful intelligence agent during the Cold War whose undercover persona begins to unravel as she falls for a writer, came out in 2012. No word yet on what The Children Act will be about, other than that it will be “emotionally wrenching.” This coming from the man who wrote Atonement, so prepare to be very wrenched.

Philip Roth will be awarded the first annual Yaddo Medal from the Yaddo artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY. Founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask (a man who supported Edison when he was inventing the lightbulb), the colony hosts around 200 artists a year who would like to spend 2-6 weeks on their 400-acre ranch. Roth himself has resided at the colony seven times since 1964. I appreciate Yaddo going out on a limb and awarding their first medal to such an unsung hero like Phil Roth. [New York Times]

Kurt Vonnegut was quite the sketch artist. You may have seen some of his drawings in his books, or recognize his self-portrait scribble that doubled as his signature. But don’t miss the slideshow of his work that the New Yorker put together. Vonnegut felt that drawing was the window through which he could jump out of when his writing became too much to bear. “My own means of making a living is essentially clerical, and hence tedious and constipating.… The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza.”

Tin House has a deep Q&A with playwright Craig Lucas, whose play Ode to Joy is as the Cherry Lane Theater until April 19th. Lucas is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a two time Tony-nominee, who wrote Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, and The Light in the Piazza. In describing the theme of the new play, he wrote: “Joy, motherfuckers. Joy.” The man truly has a way with words. We should all buy tickets. [Tin House]

Parul Sehgal has an essay on “What Muriel Spark Saw” in the New Yorker. A Scottish novelist who was a contemporary of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Spark’s novels are being rereleased in America. One of her famous quotes is “I aim to startle as well as please,” a motto to live by. Sehgal writes: “She loved lightning. It wasn’t her favorite weapon—fire was, or knives. But lightning has a brutal, beautiful efficiency, and she used it to good effect, once frying alive a pair of lovers.” So I’m buying everything she ever wrote.

Join NPR for National Poetry Month and help write their collaborative Twitter poem. See their website for details! [NPR]

 

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