7/30/20 — Literary News Roundup

The 2020 Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced. As LitHub has pointed out, the list includes 8 debut novels in addition to some more expect nominees like Hillary Mantel’s conclusion to her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror & The Light. While 8 debut novels making the list is surprising, those still upset about the prize broadening from its original national parameters will likely be exasperated by the predominance of the USA in the nominee pool.

The New York Times list of new releases under the theme of “Novels of Suspense and Isolation” yields some potentially compelling new releases. Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark, Anna Downes The Safe Place, and Eve Chase’s The Daughters of Foxcote Manor compose the list. Also appearing in the New York Times is a review of Lauren Beukes Afterland, written by Stephen King.

New Directions has published a new translation of The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro by Fernando Pessoa. Most famous in the English-speaking world for his posthumously published lifework The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa wrote under a number of pseudonyms. “Albert Caeiro” is one of these, and it was under this name that Pessoa explored an earthy immediacy and simplicity of mind.

Zadie Smith has published a new collection of essays entitled Intimations. The book collects six essays written by Smith during the ongoing pandemic. As per TIME’s pull-quote: “Intimations captures the uneasiness of our modern moment as Smith reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic and relates it to issues of privilege and inequity. Her urgent voice tackles everything from what becomes important during isolation to the global response to George Floyd’s killing. The author asks questions, both timely and timeless, about how we respond to crisis and suffering.”

Rya Spaeth has published a review-cum-op-ed on Thomas Chatterton Williams’ memoir Self-Portrait in Black and White. Williams is, of course, one the principle architects of the recent Harper’s Open Letter that has become a minor cause célèbre over recent weeks despite its vacuity. Spaeth’s article is an excellent reflection on the shortsightedness of a man who seem determined to turn himself into a firebrand despite his belle-âme worldview.

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