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The Millions Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Writers

I’ve written and erased at least 20 introductions to this year’s gift guide. I don’t know what to say except: we all really need a holiday this year. And with many of us staying close to home and avoiding family gatherings, a thoughtful gift may be more appreciated than ever before. So, here’s a guide with a little something for everyone. Although this...

Take a Tour of Octavia Butler’s Favorite Libraries

At the L.A. Times, take an interactive tour of Octavia Butler’s Los Angeles—in particular, discover the public libraries that the award-winning sci-fi writer referred to as her second home. “Butler was a voracious reader, checking out any title that remotely piqued her interest. ‘I taste books, taste knowledge and for that matter, taste life experiences...

Extinguishing the Self: On Robert Stone

1. Until the pandemic forced us into hiatus, I curated a reading series for emerging writers in New York City. For 13 years, we met monthly at KGB Bar, a literary venue in the East Village. The bar was rarely full, but it was always a chore to get people to quiet down; we encouraged readers to invite friends, family, and other writers. On the best...

Gravity and Grace and the Virus

In “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Walter Benjamin famously writes of history as one long catastrophe, an atmosphere we continue to breathe in. “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule…The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible...

Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Joukhadar, Celan, and van Heemstra

Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Zeyn Joukhadar, Paul Celan, and Marjolijn van Heemstra—that are publishing this week. Want to learn more about upcoming titles? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to help The Millions keep churning out great books coverage? Then become a member today. The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn...

Claire Messud on the Value of an Ordinary Life

At Guernica, in an interview with Madhuri Sastry, author Claire Messud discusses her recent essay collection, finding hope in art, and the value of ordinary lives. “Who’s gonna see the handkerchief, which is literally for blowing your nose, right? And yet, this beautiful embroidery. It’s because each life is important. You might never leave the town...

The Stories We Become: On William Cash’s ‘Restoration Heart’

Restoration Heart begins in 2009 with William Cash, the British journalist and publisher, hiding from the tabloids. He listens as a photographer and reporter banter outside his front door. Cash, frazzled and melancholy, huddles inside. His girlfriend’s photo appears “on the front page of the Sunday Mirror, alongside that of a well-known British politician,...

Past Made Present: On Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s ‘Photostats’

1.A year ago I revisited the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. I’m still convinced I first saw the play on a high school field trip in the mid ’90s, though I can’t find any documentation that it was staged at the University of Maryland. Still, I remember being profoundly moved by its beauty and gravity, the tragedy of so many lives...

Douglas Stuart on Writing in Secret

At The Guardian, this year’s six Booker Prize finalists describe the inspiration behind their books. Yesterday, the 2020 Prize was awarded to Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart, who explains that writing is both a source of comfort and a rejection of his childhood. “I grew up to be a textile designer. I had wanted to study English and to become a writer,...

The Narrative Drama Triangle: On Sayed Kashua’s ‘Track Changes’

The first few chapters of Sayed Kashua’s latest novel, Track Changes, didn’t impress me much. For those acquainted with the most common tropes of immigrant fiction, the setup is familiar: one day, our narrator receives a note that his father is dying. He leaves his wife and three children in the United States and flies back to his hometown of Tira in...

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