To celebrate its 10th birthday, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winning YA novel, is being reissued. The special anniversary edition features a new introduction by Jacqueline Woodson, family photographs, a new afterward, and an excerpt from the book's upcoming sequel, Rowdy, Rowdy, Rowdy. Also worth your time is Woodson's 2016 year in reading.
In the wake of her 2016 Presidential loss, Hillary Clinton's best-selling book What Happened sparked the question: "Would you rather be president of the United States or a No. 1 best-selling author?" The Washington Post asked several authors including Cheryl Strayed, Erik Larson, and Joyce Carol Oates for their thoughts. See also our interview with Strayed from our archives.
Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says "almost blackmail" readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
Riane Konc reviews the app Blinkist: "Blinkist is decidedly not a substitute for reading books. It may be a substitute for reading books that no one actually needs to read in the first place, books that only contained 15 minutes worth of an idea but had to be stretched out to 200 pages for the publishers." The app summarizes over 2000 nonfiction books in 15 minutes: read Konc's review and see if you should give it a shot.
"I wanted to be really careful about not pretending to write The Transracial Adoptee’s Experience, because (1) there is no such thing, it’s going to be different for everyone, and (2) I feel strongly that those stories should be told by the adoptees themselves, if they choose to share them," Year in Reading alum Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, in conversation with Nicole Chung.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports "[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were 'found poems' constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed." Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
“The purpose of this initiative, and this book, is to show everybody the actual definition of impeachment as set down by the Founding Fathers, and ask whether it applies to anything that is going on now.” Melville House books has discounted copies of A Citizen's Guide to Impeachment, which can be sent to a member of Congress of the buyer's choice. In the meantime, maybe you'd like to get to know the other presidents?
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl's widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert's fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
A memoir by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne shows a writer frustrated at how his creation undermined his adult literary cred. Republished 70 years after it went out of print, It's Too Late Now reveals a trapped Milne wishing for more control over his own narrative: “I wanted to escape from [children’s books] as I had once wanted to escape from Punch; as I have always wanted to escape. In vain. England expects the writer, like the cobbler, to stick to his last.”
Out this week: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss; Katalin Street by Magda Szabó; Letters to Memory by Karen Tei Yamashita; Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke; Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún; A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe; After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun; and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.