The first book of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle was published in Norway in 2009 and the final volume in 2011. The books have since sold half a million copies there, a number that represents something like one in ten Norwegians. Still, when the first volume of My Struggle was published in the United States last year, translated by Don Bartlett, it was thanks to a small non-profit in Brooklyn called Archipelago Books, which in turn relied upon the New York state government and charitable foundations to subsidize the effort. Narrated by the author, whose family and friends are the central characters, Mr. Knausgaard’s books recount his life in full, from the most banal memories to the most important events. Upon the publication of Book Two and a paperback reissue of Book One by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Mr. Knausgaard has won a very loyal English-speaking readership. It turns out that assembling IKEA furniture while contemplating the meaninglessness of our lives transcends the boundaries of nationality and language. As Mr. Knausgaard writes, “As is always the case with books that seem to be groundbreaking, they put into words what for me had been suspicions, feelings, hunches.” Read More
STEAL THE MENU: A MEMOIR OF FORTY YEARS IN FOOD
(Knopf, 242 pp., $25.95)
It’s hard to believe in these gourmet-mad times, but 40 years ago the U.S. had “no radicchio, no world-class restaurant, no foie gras, no Sichuan food.” So recalls lifelong food writer Raymond Sokolov in this entertaining memoir. Mr. Sokolov Read More
The New York Times Book Review is modernizing under the editorship of Pamela Paul, who was appointed to the positon in early April. The section announced three changes in a new column in this Sunday’s issue (it was posted online today). Starting this weekend, the e-book bestseller list, which first joined the printed list in early 2011, will be online only. Additionally, book prices will no longer be included for any books. Read More
On the Trail of the Next Great Crime Novel: After ‘Dragon Tattoo,’ Will Readers Flock to a More Exotic Noir?
Detective Fabio Montale is having a rough week. His best friends are dead, he keeps getting beaten up, and his city is descending into, as the title of the novel he stars in suggests, Total Chaos. But he still has time for a little bass. Fennel-stuffed and grilled, maybe, with a lasagna sauce and peppers, “gently fried.” Some friends are coming over for pastis and Lagavulin and gin rummy by the sea, and they expect the copper to cook.
“I was finally calming down,” Montale thinks. “Cooking had that effect on me. My mind could escape the twisted labyrinth of thought and concentrate on smells and tastes. And pleasure.”
In 2011, Janet Malcolm underwent the literary rite of a Paris Review interview. As part of its tradition, the magazine permits interview subjects to reread and revise their words: they have an impressive degree of control over their self-presentation, which presumably makes the whole exercise more appealing. Often the effect is of a long chat on a porch in the Berkshires between an elder statesman and a respectful apprentice, who nods sagely at the importance of rising early to write.
But most interview subjects have not spent their careers contemplating the treachery of the interview. Most interview subjects have not made their names dissecting flattering self-presentation. Most interview subjects are not Janet Malcolm.
There are readers who will never pick up a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (Knopf, 496 pp., $26.95), perhaps scared off by the premise—a Nigerian couple whose love for one another is dwarfed by their infatuation for Anglo and American culture—or from reading the blurb by Dave Eggers on the back cover (“Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently,” etc.). It does not scream “beach book.”
James C. Goodale, the so-called “father of reporters’ privilege” and the author of a new book called Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 255 pp., $20), was in his office at the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm, where he’s a partner, comparing Barack Obama to Richard M. Nixon.
“Nixon and Agnew were like Read More
Born in 1915, Saul Bellow published his first novel, Dangling Man, in 1944. He would go on to write 18 books of fiction (14 novels, four story collections) which between them would win him the Pulitzer Prize (Humboldt’s Gift, 1975), a record-setting three National Book Awards (The Adventures of Augie March, 1953; Herzog, Read More
André Aciman would seem a prototypical ambassador of learned neither-here-nor-thereness, an Alexandrian Jew whose output as a novelist of nostalgia rivals his stature as a scholar of Proust. But if his well-received 1994 memoir Out of Egypt stood apart as a personal-political lament, Harvard Square, a semiautobiographical work of fiction, deals with an altogether different sort of longing.
The New York Times is looking for some New York-based authors to feature in their “Sunday Routine” column, where “prominent New Yorkers recount their weekend rituals.” Nice to know that writers are still considered prominent New Yorkers!