In honor of our “seismologic day” yesterday, we looked at literature in which earthquakes played a major role. Natural disasters have always been a transformative force in fiction, a way of literally and metaphorically shaking things up. David Ulin of the L.A. Times selected nine books that “channel both our terror and awe” of earthquakes. We chose a few of our favorite shaky titles our own below. READ FULL STORY »
Tag: Jonathan Franzen (1-8 of 8)
beat out Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Personally, I applaud the board for awarding Egan’s highly original, immensely entertaining novel of interconnected stories (even though Franzen’s novel would have been a more than deserving winner as well). Goon Squad will be released in paperback Mar. 22.In what can only be seen as an upset, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad
Mick Taylor, former guitarist of the Rolling Stones, will pen a memoir about his time with the band.
Who says libraries are dead? Bolingbrook, Illinois got a three-story, $39.5 million state-of-the-art library stocked with flat-screens, self-checkout stations, an automated book sorter (what’s that?), and a cafe. A section called the Vortex, designed to attracted teens, is decked with plasma TVs and beanbag chairs. The library as a whole is meant to appeal more to young professionals. Suddenly Bolingbrook sounds like it’s worth a visit.
Nine years after a media storm erupted over comments Jonathan Franzen made in relation to his novel’s inclusion in Oprah’s Book Club, the Queen of All Media invited the author to her show today to discuss his new book, Freedom, as well as the kerfuffle now safely in their rearview mirror. You could have subtitled their discussion The Corrections; both Oprah and Franzen appeared eager to set the record straight about the sorta-feud. The two were a little tense during the minutes dedicated to going over that period in their shared history, with a commendably not-quite-contrite Franzen citing his unpreparedness with the soundbite-obsessed, controversy-hungry television media cycle as part of the reason why this particular molehill was turned into a mountain. “It was probably the big thing I learned from the experience, which was to have more respect for television,” he told Oprah. When asked about the impression of him as a “snob” he replied that he isn’t one at all, but rather a “Midwestern egalitarian.” Although, I’m not quite sure whether using the phrase “Midwestern egalitarian” actually helps or hurts him on this point.
Things were a little less awkward when they discussed the present day, hitting topics like Franzen’s 20-minute conversation with President Obama and his solitary writing process. For her part, Oprah was effusive in praising Freedom. What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Happy to see the reconciliation, even nine years after the fact?
December isn’t just a month for office party faux pas and last minute holiday shopping. It’s also “best of” list time! While you wait for EW’s best & worst issue (on sale 12/17), take a look at some of the other lists that have started rolling out.
Earlier this week The New York Times put their Top 10 books of the year online in advance of this weekend’s print edition. It has some usual suspects in fiction: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (showing up on just about everyone’s best of list this year), A Visit from the Goon Squad‘s Jennifer Egan (yay!), and Emma Donoghue’s Room in addition to Ann Beattie’s The New Yorker Stories and Selected Stories by William Trevor. In nonfiction, some of our other favorites like Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee made the cut, as did Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels, Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, and Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim. (Also be sure to check out the NYT’s “100 Notable Books of 2010″ which was published last week.)
Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 includes Franzen, Egan, and Wilkerson, but also adds Patti Smith’s Just Kids (National Book Award winner!) and Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist. Amazon editors rank their favorites, as does The Atlantic (with, intriguingly, no Franzen in sight!) and San Francisco Chronicle put Stieg Larsson’s trilogy on the list.
So what about you? What books would you put on your top ten list?
The day after the Man Booker Prize was handed out, the nominations for the National Book Award have been announced. The fiction shortlist comprises Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, Nicole Krauss’ Great House, Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That, Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule, and Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel. The Australian-born Carey has previously won the Man Booker and his latest novel was also a finalist for that prize, but it also qualifies for the National Book Award because the author also has U.S. citizenship. However, the most notable aspect of this list is an absence: Jonathan Franzen’s best-selling, critically acclaimed Freedom is nowhere to be seen. This is especially notable since his previous novel, The Corrections, won the award nine years ago.
Patti Smith’s searing memoir Just Kids made it among the finalists for nonfiction, keeping company with previous National Book Award winner John W. Dower’s Cultures of War, among others. Here is the full list of finalists:
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Nicole Krauss, Great House
Lionel Shriver, So Much for That
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel
Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy
Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar
Patti Smith, Just Kids
John W. Dower, Culures of War
Justin Spring, Secret Historian
Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City
Terrance Hayes, Lighthead
James Richardson, By the Numbers
C.D. Wright, One with Others
Monica Youn, Ignatz
Young People’s Literature
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird
Laura McNeal, Dark Water
Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown
Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer
Almost a full year after her last pick, and just in time to decidedly not choose the new Jonathan Franzen, Oprah Winfrey will soon be announcing the next inductee into that all-powerful pantheon of literature: Oprah’s Book Club. Now, there are two possible routes: She could pick a new work, like she did with, say, A Million Little Pieces, or she could go for the reconstituted classic like she did with Love in the Time of Cholera or East of Eden. Personally, I hope she does the former, if only to avoid the slightly saddening prospect of a sticker that reads “Crime and Punishment: As Seen on Oprah!”
According to the AP, the Queen of All Media—including books—will announce her latest Book Club pick live on-air on September 17, exactly 14 years after she announced her first choice, The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Since this is going to be the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, it’s unclear how much longer the club will continue, and this may even end up the last pick ever. What do you think Shelf-Lifers? Any ideas as to what you think Oprah might choose? Any books you hope she does?
“Here’s an idea,” Linda Holmes says in an op-ed piece on NPR. “If you’re going to try to report on the fact that a couple of women who write books have tried to start a discussions of whether the mega-response to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is symptomatic of a too-narrow view of interesting fiction, it might be a good idea to stay away from the formless and dismissive term ‘chick lit’ in discussing them.” As she says, all too often womens’ books about family and relationship are dismissed as “chick lit.” But men who write novels about the same kinds of subjects are accorded much more respect.
The “chick lit” debate has been raging for some time now, of course. This time around it was stoked by Jodi Picoult, who — upon reading the New York Times‘ rave review of Freedom – tweeted, “NYT raved about Franzen’s new book. Is anyone shocked? Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren’t white male literary darlings.” Jennifer Weiner then joined the fray (tweeting under the hashtag “franzenfreude”); the Times responded snarkily that anyone who thought she was right “should meet in front of Jennifer’s TV during “Oprah.” (Why is that? Because women sit around in the afternoon and eat bonbons and watch Oprah?) Weiner told Huffpo, “Do I think I should be getting all of the attention that Jonathan ‘Genius’ Franzen gets? Nope. Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby? Absolutely.”
There’s a couple of issues here. I’ve weighed in on most of them before. As far as the Times goes, Weiner and Picoult are correct: The newspaper absolutely does have a bias towards white male authors (if you doubt this, go do some counting yourself). Look and see how many men in the last year got both daily and Sunday reviews — and then compare how many women were accorded that honor. Check the number of mentions Gary Shteyngart has gotten in the last month, and then do the same for Mona Simpson, a novelist of equal literary acclaim. (Their most recent works came out at roughly the same time this summer.) Simpson did get a profile, it’s true. Of course, it ran in the Style section, not the Arts section.
The chick lit issue is equally bothersome. It’s never failed to irritate me that the smart, funny, achingly real Good in Bed should be dismissed as “chick lit,” with all its dismissive, derogatory implications. This isn’t a novel about sex and shopping. Would we demean brash, action-packed adventure novels by calling them “dick lit”? No, we would not. (Although if the “chick lit” tag persists, maybe we should.)
All right, everyone: Weigh in, please. Do you think there’s a bias — in the Times or elsewhere — against women writers? What do you think of the “chick lit” debate?
- 'Fast & Furious' vs. 'Hangover' for No. 1
- 'Simpsons': Visit Springfield (in Orlando)
- CBS: Full trailers for new fall shows
- Mary J. Blige faces $3.4M federal tax lien
- 'Intervention' canceled by A&E
- Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Trek' shower?!
- 'SNL': Best host of 2012-13? YOU say it's...
- 'X-Men': Evan Peters in as Quiksilver