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I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

In the spirit of Edward Abbey, Hunter Thompson, and Joy Williams, Watkins has forged a desert tale of howling pain and a chaotic quest for healing mythic in its summoning of female power in a realm of double-wides, loaded dice, broken glass, and hot springs. Read more

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On the Avant-Garde Literary Genius of Donald Barthelme

He never pretended to greatness, and he made fun of those who did. His fallback, his signature, is always humor. For all his avant-gardism, and occasional difficulty, he is a very funny writer, even a jokey one at times. He’s more entertaining to read, and requires less heavylifting, than many of the postmoderns, and he enjoyed more popular success than just about any of them. Read more

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The Vixen by Francine Prose

Prose ingeniously takes on publishing, the fallout of WWII, and McCarthyism in a gloriously astute, skewering, and hilarious bildungsroman. One of this bravura performance’s many piquant delights is Prose’s clever use of Simon’s fluency in ancient sagas as he struggles to comprehend just how malignant the scheme he’s bogged down in truly is. Mordant, incisive, and tenderhearted, Prose presents an intricately realized tale of a treacherous, democracy-threatening time of lies, demagoguery, and prejudice that is as wildly exhilarating as the Cyclone, Simon’s beloved Coney Island roller coaster. Read more

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For Literary Novelists the Past Is Pressing

For the past two decades, the novels celebrated for defining our time have almost always been books set within our time, from Jonathan Franzen’s voluminous social comedies to Sally Rooney’s smartly self-knowing novels and the seam of contemporary autofiction that has run between them. Historical fiction, by contrast, has not been in fashion. Or, rather, it has been seen as its own fusty fashion, relentlessly uncontemporary and easy to caricature, filled with mothballed characters who wear costumes rather than clothes, use words like “Prithee!” while having modern-day thoughts, and occasionally encounter villains immediately recognizable by their yellow teeth or suspicious smell. Read more

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The Forgotten Genius of Leo Perutz

Borges listed him among the great mystery writers of the age; Robert Musil claimed he had invented his own genre; Italo Calvino, Graham Greene, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ian Fleming counted theselves as fans — and yet Leo Perutz has been almost entirely forgotten within the English-speaking world. Read more

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International Booker prize shortlist led by books ‘pushing the boundaries’ of fiction

The International Booker goes to “the finest fiction from around the world” that has been translated into English. Six books are now in the running for the £50,000 award, which is split equally between author and translator, all of them displaying “an extraordinary amount of ingenuity and originality”, said chair of judges Lucy Hughes-Hallett. Read more